Bakuchiol -- A Gentle Alternative To Retinol Is Scientifically Proven To Really Work!

Bakuchiol -- A Gentle Alternative To Retinol Is Scientifically Proven To Really Work!

Every now and then I stumble onto skin care articles that talk about anti-ageing, and there it is -- Retinol. The supposed key to anti-ageing. Retinol does work -- this version of Vitamin A reduces fine lines, spots, and encourages a faster cell turnover. Yet it has some big disadvantages -- the skin is more sensitive to UV rays, it is thinner and more sensitive and loses some of it's barrier function. It can irritate the skin temporarily, and in some cases it can can cause heavy damage to sensitive skin -- retinoid dermatitis. Most organic and natural cosmetic certifications have not approved retinol, nor is it approved for pregnant or nursing women, nor should you use it if you are trying to get pregnant, as it is a know reproductive toxicant.

I personally chose not to use retinol and instead choose other anti-ageing cosmetic ingredients that are less risky. Many ingredients are called "the natural alternative to retinol", however when I searched deeper it turns out that their anti-ageing effects don't come close to those of  retinol.

Except one.

Bakuchiol is a substance extracted from Psoralea corylifolia aka the Babchi plant, which has traditionally been used in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Its Sanskrit name Kushtanashini means destroyer of afflictions -- studies have shown it has a lot of medical potential, so it seems to be apt!

What Bakuchiol can do:

This study shows that bakuchiol is just as effective as retinol in diminishing wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, but much gentler. It also stimulates the production of collagen, helps against acne (source), makes the skin more elastic and firm (study), and smooths pores.
There are a couple of differences with retinol:  unlike retinol bakuchiol is photo-stable which means that it remains active in bright sunlight and is safe to use during the day. It doesn't decrease the size of oil glands. And it's vegan (retinol sometimes isn't).

Products with Bakuchiol:

Bakuchi can be used in a concentration of up to 1%, and this concentration is also the most effective. So when choosing a product with bakuchiol, do check out how many percent of Bakuchi is actually in the product. Many don't mention this important detail, which probably means that there is a much smaller amount of bakuchiol in it.
A lot of products with bakuchiol are very expensive, I'm talking around 50-150€. I do think it's only because bakuchiol is new and hyped at the moment, and that soon it will trickle down.

That said, I did hunt for a couple of products that won't kill your wallet. The BYBI Beauty Bakuchiol Booster is made of 1% bakuchiol and 99% squalene, it isn't expensive but it seems to sell out days after it's back in stock. I am extremely pleased with the results I have had with it so far, but will write a proper review when I've used it a bit longer.

Some other products that contain bakuchiol and fulfil my criteria of being affordable and not containing ingredients that I wouldn't feel comfortable using (silicones, dubious preservatives, ingredients known to be toxic, etc):
Pacifica's Future Youth Crystal Ball Serum
Erboristica Purysens Pelle Mista e Impura,
Eboristica Purysens Crema Viso Riequilibrante Anti-Eta,
Esito Natural Night Face Cream
Esito Natural Face Serum. 
If you know of any more let me know in the comments! PS I found that going through the hashtag #bakuchiol on instagram is a good way of keeping up with new products that contain bakuchiol.

Bakuchiol DIY? 

There are also Babchi oil and Babchi powder available. These seem both to be very effective against Vitiligo and Psoriasis. However they have to be heavily diluted otherwise they can cause chemical burns. So this is definitely not something you can slather on your face. However EverBlossoms has a recipe for a DIY Babchi serum. This user mixes 10% Babchi oil with 90% squalane. 
I couldn't find out how many % of the active ingredient bakuchiol does oil from the Babchi plant contain. Maybe there is a chemist among you with access to the newest studies, or knows what terms to search for? 
What I did find out is that (unlike pure bakuchiol) the entire Babchi plant does contain substances that make the skin sensitive to sunlight. It should be used in combination with sunscreen, and never during the day or in the middle of the summer.

So have you tried anything with bakuchiol yet? This ingredient is going to have a permanent place in my anti-aging routine, in addition to Vit C. Which other anti-ageing ingredients do you swear on?

Photo credit: Jayesh Pail

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