If you haven’t heard of retinol, it’s a vitamin A derivative that can brighten skin and even tackle acne, among other benefits. Sounds great? But when it comes to retinol, there are two camps: Hell Yes, and Never Again.

While the ingredient has the most proven track record when it comes to boosting skin cell renewal, stimulating collagen production (which in turn plumps fines lines) and tackling hyperpigmentation, it is often accompanied by irritated, dry, inflamed and, in some cases, peeling skin. Plus, you can’t use it if you’re pregnant (it increases the baby’s risk of birth defects) and most people with sensitive skin cannot use it at all, as it tends to induce irritation. 


Which is exactly why bakuchiol— touted as the natural alternative to retinol—is the buzziest new skincare ingredient. Read on to find out why you need to include this into your skincare routine.

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What is bakuchiol?  

Extracted from bakuchi (or babchi, as it is known in India) plant seeds, it is a chemical compound that has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties and is known to help stimulate collagen—the main benefit that has made it a promising replacement of retinol.

So how is it different from retinol?

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that there was no statistical difference between the compounds when it came to reducing wrinkles and treating hyperpigmentation.

While it performs similar functions as retinol—boosting collagen production and fighting lines and wrinkles, it does not cause redness, dryness, peeling and sun sensitivity that some people experience with retinol. Since it is not photo-sensitising, it can also be used in the day. And because it is so gentle, and even soothing on the skin, it can also be used by those who have sensitive skin as well as those who are pregnant. TL;DR: bakuchiol has all the benefits of retinol, sans the irritation.

The ideal age to start using the retinol alternative

Skin cell turnover naturally slows down in your late 20s so it’s a good idea to add backuchiol to your skincare routine around the age of 27. Any earlier and you run the risk of over stimulating the skin disrupting the skin’s natural balance. 

The best way to incorporate bakuchiol into your skincare routine

Use it as you would retinol. You can use it on clean skin on its own. If you find retinol too irritating to your skin, it’s best to layer it under a night cream. And you can use it both at night and in the day. But as with adding any new skincare item to your routine, start with a patch test to see if it causes any irritation. And always use sunscreen over it. 

What results can you expect?

After incorporating bakuchiol into your skincare routine, you can expect to see your skin looking plumper and brighter with a natural glow to it. With continued use, skin tone would look more even, and skin texture would be smoother and firmer. You can also expect to notice reduced lines and wrinkles.

Now that you know bakuchiol is a gentle, non-irritating, vegan alternative to retinol, here are some bakuchiol-infused products that you can consider adding to your skincare routine. 

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