It seems like every day there's a new beauty buzzword to know, but the latest one is definitely worth paying attention to. It's called bakuchiol (that's buh-koo-chee-all), and it's a retinol alternative that's 100% natural.
WHAT IS BAKUCHIOL?
Bakuchiol is derived from the seeds of the purple plant called psoralea corylifolia. “It’s been used for centuries in ayurvedic medicine and other herbal treatments to treat many issues including psoriasis, vitiligo, and inflammation,” says double board-certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, M.D. However, this popular skincare ingredient isn’t purple when applied to your face — it’s typically a yellow or yellow-brown hue in liquid form.
So how does this incredibly gentle yet effective ingredient work? “It encourages cell turnover, resulting in new, younger skin cells beneath. The exfoliation tricks the skin into thinking it’s wounded, resulting in increased collagen production,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Purvisha Patel, M.D.
IS BAKUCHIOL AS GOOD AS RETINOL?
DeRosa says bakuchiol offers all of the same benefits as conventional retinol, including visibly improving fine lines and wrinkles, reducing hyperpigmentation, improving elasticity, as well as being a potent antioxidant.
The Boston-based doctor has more great news for our sensitive skin readers: Bakuchiol is entirely plant-based, so you won't experience the irritation, flaking, and scaling that is commonly seen with retinol use. Patel adds it's pregnancy-safe, too, and can be applied to the whole body without irritating skin.
Another plus? Retinol products make skin more sensitive to sun exposure, so it's best to limit them to evening use, and then follow up with a strong facial sunscreen in the morning. Bakuchiol, on the other hand, can be used at any time. And with skin-smoothing and anti-aging properties, who wouldn’t want it to be part of both their a.m. and p.m. routines?
We recommend adding a layer of bakuchiol after cleansing your face and using a facial toner but before moisturizer. There are multiple forms to choose from, thanks to more and more brands getting on board with the ingredient, so you can get your fix with serums or even individual face pads.
Long story short: If you have sensitive skin and still want the power of an active ingredient in your skincare routine, then bakuchiol is a must-have. If you need a little guidance, we're here to help. Check out some of the best-selling, top-rated bakuchiol-infused skincare products. Each of these earned glowing online reviews and received a thumbs up from our resident beauty editor, Nicole Saunders, for their impressive formulas.
The Best Bakuchiol Skincare Products
Best OverallCLINICAL 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment Paula's Choice amazon.com $56.00
- Non-greasy feel
- Not ideal for sensitive skin
- Rating: 4.6-star average from more than 240 Amazon reviews
- Also contains: Retinol and peptides
If your skin can handle it, why not incorporate both retinol and bakuchiol into your routine? This serum from Paula's Choice features both anti-aging heavy-hitters to create a powerful formula that won't make your skin freak out. It's also formulated with peptides to soothe and hydrate your precious pores.
- Matte finish
- Light and fresh scent
- Mini size sold out
- Rating: 4.5-star average from more than 350 Sephora reviews
- Also contains: Hyaluronic acid and ceramides
Take care of hydration and fine lines all at once with this moisturizer from Alpyn Beauty. It contains a skin-loving cocktail of bakuchiol, vitamin C, and glycolic acid to perk up your complexion. It's also packed with squalane and ceramides to give your skin a boost of hydration.
The Ultra Silky Serum
- Visibly plumps skin
- Reviewers don't like the pump
- Rating: 4-star average from more than 630 Sephora reviews
- Also contains: Hyaluronic acid and squalane
This hydrating serum from Biossance is packed with bakuchiol, squalane, and hyaluronic acid, a true trifecta of ingredients for happy skin. It works overtime to address fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage without irritating your skin, making it a great pick for sensitive skin types.
Best Acne PadsBakuchiol Reface Pads Indeed Labs ulta.com $19.99
- Prevents itching
- Sold out on Amazon
- Rating: 4.5-star average from more than 350 Sephora reviews
- Also contains: Niacinamide and allantoin
Smooth away lines with these convenient bakuchiol pads. On top of being infused with our favorite all-natural retinol alternative, they also contain niacinamide, an anti-inflammatory ingredient that controls sebum production. There's also allantoin to help fade dark spots and smooth dry, flaky skin. Swipe these face pads on if you're dealing with pesky fine lines and acne.
Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Moisturizer The INKEY List sephora.com $11.49
- Lightweight hydration
- Not moisturizing enough for dry skin
- Rating: 4.1-star average from 320 Sephora reviews
- Also contains: Squalane and sacha inchi oil
In need of a bakuchiol boost on a budget? Then allow us to introduce you to this moisturizer from the editor-favorite skincare brand, The INKEY List. For just under $10, this moisturizer seals your complexion with a blend of the retinol-alternative, omega-3-packed sacha inchi oil and squalane to refresh and revitalize your skin. It also has a Clean at Sephora seal of approval.
Best Overnight TreatmentGoodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Crème OLEHENRIKSEN sephora.com $58.00
- Vegan formula
- Might be too much slip for oily skin
- Rating: 3.9-star average from more than 510 Sephora reviews
- Also contains: Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and edelweiss stem cells
Don't you wish improving your skin were as easy as falling asleep? Well, this bakuchiol-infused overnight cream from OLEHENRIKSEN can help with that. It's also packed with alpha-hydroxy glycolic and lactic acids to exfoliate your skin overnight.
- Restores elasticity and firmness
- Provides antioxidant defense
- Sells out fast
- Rating: 4.5-star average from nearly 90 Nordstrom reviews
- Also contains: Winged kelp extract, Hungarian water, sea buckthorn berry, rosehip and sweet almond oils
Your skin is begging for this bakuchiol-infused oil from Omorvicza. It features a blend of botanically derived oils that hydrate your skin like a cream, yet absorb into the skin instantly like a serum. It's a little pricey, but it'll last for months, since a little goes a long way.
The Fan Favorite
- Visible results in three days
- Reviewers don't love the bottle dropper
- Rating: 4.1-star average from nearly 480 Sephora reviews
- Also contains: Olive leaf and centella asiatica leaf extracts
With nearly 480 rave reviews at Sephora, this has to be one of the most highly praised bakuchiol serums on the market. Its skin-boosting powers can be attributed to a fusion of olive-leaf extract and the popular retinol alternative, which help hydrate and soothe your skin while reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Best Firming Treatment
Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum Beautycounter beautycounter.com $87.00
- Guards against environmental damage
- Strong scnet
- Rating: 4.5-star average from nearly 3,600 BeautyCounter reviews
- Also contains: Retinatural complex, tripeptide, and amino acids
Sagging skin got your complexion down? Though this Beautycounter serum won't give you the same results as a face lift, it's a great place to start. Amino acids and tripeptide add to the benefits of bakuchiol by firming skin and protecting against environmental stressors that cause dullness and signs of aging.
- Brightens and protects skin Cons
- Best for oily and combination skin
- Rating: 4.6-star average from nearly 60 Credo reviews
- Also contains: Hyaluronic acid
Is it a moisturizer or a serum? It's both! This hybrid skincare product has a slushy-like texture that absorbs instantly into your skin, and it's also filled with hydrating hyaluronic acid. You'll love that this serum-moisturizer lets you skip a step in your skincare routine.