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Bakuchiol: the natural retinol alternative that won’t leave you red-faced

January 30th 2019 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment


Love the idea of retinol, but not a fan of its side-effects? This plant-based ingredient could be for you

Retinol - it’s regarded as one of the most effective ingredients around for slowing the ageing process. It isn’t for everyone though. Side-effects include sensitivity, inflammation, dryness and for some, peeling. Which is why bakuchiol, a gentler plant-based alternative, has seen a peak in popularity as of late amongst brands and fans of Pinterest (searches for it are up a staggering 275 per cent).

Pronounced ba-koo-heel, it’s derived from the babchi plant and has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine due to its soothing and healing properties. It’s one of those rare finds though that seems to have stood the test of time - and could still give other ingredients a run for their money. According to a recent study published by the British Journal of Dermatology, it’s not just as good as retinol when it comes to tackling the effects of sun damage, but it’s also better tolerated. “It's the only botanical extract thus far that's shown real, clinically-proven results similar to that of retinol - stimulating collagen production, strengthening the skin's foundation, and minimising the appearance of lines and wrinkles, without the risk of irritation,” Dimitra Davidson, President of Indeed Labs tells me.

What’s more, it can help in reducing acne and hyperpigmentation and unlike retinol, it doesn’t increase photosensitivity, meaning that it’s safe for daytime use too (that’s not to say though that you shouldn’t wear an SPF on top of it still).

Not only is it a much more far-reaching alternative to retinol when it comes to skin types, but it’s also more practical too. As a result, more and more brands are incorporating the ingredient into their products. One such example is Ole Henriksen’s Glow Cycle Serum, which along with bakuchiol, also contains exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and hibiscus flower extract to target lines and uneven skin tone and texture in one fell swoop.

Sadly, it’s only available in the US at this point in time. However, there are a number of other bakuchiol products within reach on UK shores too. Here are five set for big things. Despite bakuchiol’s high tolerability, we’d recommend patch testing them first if you have particularly sensitive skin.

Indeed Labs Bakuchiol Reface Pads, £19.99 for 30 pads


These portable pre-soaked pads are the newest addition to the bakuchiol bunch and are a great choice for the time-short. They’re brimming with benefits - they also contain calming allantoin to help lock in moisture, and niacinamide (vitamin B3) to strengthen skin barrier.

Buy it now

Omorovicza Miracle Facial Oil, £80 for 30ml


Fine lines, elasticity and firmness - this rich but non-greasy elixir hits a bevy of beauty bases. As well as bakuchiol, it also contains antioxidant-rich kelp extract and rosehip and sweet almond oils to leave skin soft and supple.

Buy it now

Oskia Super 16 Advanced Nutri-Active Collagen Serum, £88 for 30ml


If you prefer a serum though, this fast-absorbing option from Oskia’s for you. Bakuchiol is combined with 15 other hard-workers such as hydrating hyaluronic acid and chicory extract, firming lupin seed and essential fatty acids, to help skin weather environmental and lifestyle assaults.

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BYBI Bakuchiol Booster, £12 for 15ml


Add a couple of drops of this to your serum or moisturiser to instantly soup up your skincare. As well as 1% bakuchiol, it contains 99% squalane oil to keep dryness as bay.

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Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum, £88 for 30ml


This powerful serum brightens and moisturises while you sleep thanks to the gentle sloughing effects of mandelic acid (an AHA made from almonds) combined with bakuchiol, niacinamide, moisturising organic rosehip oil and hyaluronic acid. Skin doesn't feel tight but looks bright after a few nights' use.

Buy it now

Read more: What your skin pH should be - and why it matters

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