A few years ago, retinol was all the rage thanks to its ability to rapidly increase cell turnover and minimize fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and acne. Then came the complaints. In high dosages, retinol can cause skin irritation, flaking, stinging and breakouts.
Now, bakuchiol, a natural chemical compound that has been discovered to have anticancer activity in pre-clinical models due to its structural similarity with resveratrol, has been publicized as nature's retinol. The ingredient, found in the seeds and leaves of the Asian plant Psoralea corylifolia, has been shown to act almost the same as the vitamin A derivative but without the irritating and drying side effects.
According to Dr. Melanie Palm, a dermatologist, bakuchiol, which differs chemically from retinols and retinoids, has been proven to have the same anti-aging properties as retinol. Bakuchiol, which improves skin texture, photo-aging, and wrinkles, also revitalizes collagen in the skin. In addition, the compound generates less dryness, redness and irritation compared to retinols, which makes it ideal for subjects with dry or rosacea-prone skin.
"Retinol is perhaps the best-studied ingredient we have to fight fine lines and wrinkles," says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. "However, many people cannot tolerate it, because it's known to cause skin irritation and sensitivity to the sun."
It is also isn’t weakened by light and oxidative stress, therefore, it may also work in conjuction with retinols for better results. Dr. Palm recommends using a serum or cream with bakuchiol in the evening since the increased skin absorption, temperature, circulation, and reparative mechanisms that take effect at night help with skin rejuvenation.
The ingredient is present in several popular skincare products, like Ren's Bio Retinoid Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate Oil, Biossance's Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum, and ISDIN's Melatonik, a melatonin-infused 3-in-1 night serum. In addition, it is used by Indeed Laboratories, BYBI, and Omorovicza.
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Ole Henriksen uses the ingredient in his new Transform Plus Retin-ALT duo. "Bakuchiol is clinically proven to rebuild new collagen, to reduce lines and wrinkles, to even skin tone and fade hyperpigmentation," Henriksen says. "It reduces the look of open pores, resurfaces, smooths skin, firms, and promotes elasticity." The compound is also present in Henriksen’s Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum and Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Crème.
Bakuchiol, which has a calming effect on the skin, can be used safely during pregnancy — unlike retinol and other retinoids, which doctors recommend avoiding. Finally, bakuchiol is the same shade as the pale-purple flowers of the babchi plant, which makes it pleasing to the eye.