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

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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).

What is bakuchiol?

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  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  says.

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).

Is bakuchiol safe for use in pregnancy?

"Bakuchiol is believed to be safe for use during pregnancy, but if you are pregnant please always carefully check labels and full ingredients lists to ensure that there is no other reason the product might not be suitable during this time," says consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk .

MORE GLOSS: How to look after your skin during pregnancy

What's the difference between retinol and bakuchiol?

Not only is it a much more far-reaching alternative to retinol when it comes to skin types, but it’s also more practical. 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.

Here's our pick of the best bakuchiol products out there - keep in mind though, despite bakuchiol’s high tolerability, we’d recommend patch testing them first if you have particularly sensitive skin .

Beauty Bay SkinHit Clarifying Serum, £6.50

For a purse-friendly way to see if Bakuchiol is right for you, you can't go wrong with Beauty Bay's Clarifying Serum. It contains bakuchiol for blemish control and to combat pigmentation, as well as oatmeal to moisturise and restore the skin.

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Indeed Labs Bakuchiol Reface Pads, £19.99 for 30 pads

These portable pre-soaked pads 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 the skin barrier.

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Omorovicza Miracle Facial Oil, £82 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.

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Oskia Super 16 Advanced Nutri-Active Collagen Serum, £87 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 one per cent bakuchiol, it contains 99 per cent  squalane  oil to keep dryness as bay.

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Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum, £95 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.

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REN Bio Retinoid Anti-Ageing Cream, £45 for 50ml

If you want to go head-first into using bakuchiol this is the one for you - you can apply it both day and night, just make sure to rub it into your hands first before applying to your face, as it's quite a thick consistency. For dry skin prone to sensitivity this is a gentle way to smooth and even your skin tone.

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Herbivore Bakuchiol Serum, £45 for 29ml

We first fell in love with Herbivore when we tried the Coconut Milk Bath Soak  and we've been converts ever since. This gel-textured water-based formula contains four per cent bakuchiol to lessen fine lines and hyperpigmentation, while one per cent polyhydroxy acid exfoliates the surface of your skin to gently even the texture.

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The Inkey List Bakuchiol, £9.99 for 30ml

For bakuchiol on a budget, you can't go wrong with The Inkey List. It holds host to squalene as well for an extra hit of hydration, creating a gentle yet effective alternative to retinol.

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This Works My Wrinkles Tired Eyes Eye Cream, £45 for 20ml

Our bedrooms are already full of This Works products (we don't even consider bedding down until we've liberally spritzed Sleep Plus+ ), so what's one more addition to our nighttime routine from the brand? This eye cream sees an advanced retinoid complex and bakuchiol team up to brighten, smooth and hydrate the eye area.

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Time Bomb ABC Serum, £48 for 30ml

This serum takes its name from the vitamins it holds host to, with vitamins A, B and C all included in the formula. That's not all though; it also includes bakuchiol (obviously), as well as hyaluronic acid and squalane too - quite the powerhouse!

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Revolution Skincare 1 per cent Bakuchiol Serum, £9.95 for 30ml

Another great option for anyone who wants to try bakuchiol without dropping a lot of money. This vegan correcting serum works to reduce fine lines and pigmentation, whilst improving the elasticity and firmness of the skin – all without any irritation.

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