Bakuchiol: Is it Really Nature’s Answer to Retinol? 

Ever since bakuchiol appeared on the beauty scene, it’s been touted as a “natural retinol” and a “plant-derived retinol alternative” that dramatically revitalizes skin. But is bakuchiol really nature’s answer to Retin-A? And does it really serve up the same skin benefits as retinol (firmer skin, more even tone, and fewer fine lines and wrinkles) without the side effects? Here’s everything you need to know about bakuchiol.

What is bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is a plant extract derived from the leaves and seeds of Psoralea corylifolia, a leafy plant traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Since its discovery back in the 60s, bakuchiol has been shown to have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

What does it do?

Research has also shown that bakuchiol actually works a lot like retinol on the skin, stimulating cellular turnover and collagen to boost elasticity, unclog pores, and fade dark spots. In a recent study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, a 0.5% bakuchiol cream was just as effective as a 0.5% retinol cream in diminishing wrinkles and hyperpigmentation—but with much less irritation.

Is bakuchiol a retinoid?

Technically, no. Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A, and bakuchiol isn’t related. But bakuchiol does seem to work in a similar way on the skin at a cellular level. Unlike retinoids, which are often associated with irritation—think stinging, redness, skin sensitivity, and peeling—bakuchiol has a calming and soothing effect on the skin, making it a good option for those with sensitive skin who can’t tolerate retinoids.

The best of bakuchiol skincare

Curious about adding bakuchiol into your beauty routine? Ahead are some bakuchiol oils and serums that the Beautylish team loves. (Word to the wise: Because of bakuchiol’s exfoliating properties, it’s best to apply it at night and use SPF during the day.)

Good Molecules Bakuchiol Oil Blend for Dry Skin

This wallet-friendly blend of chia and rosehip seed oils with bakuchiol is formulated to bring back dry and dehydrated skin’s bounce.

Good Molecules Bakuchiol Oil Blend for Oily Skin

Fast-absorbing baobab and rosehip seed oils plus bakuchiol make this lightweight facial oil a top pick for those with oily or combination skin.

PSA SKIN Midnight Courage: Rosehip & Bakuchiol Night Oil

In addition to bakuchiol, this facial oil contains a less irritating retinoid that works in tandem to reduce dark spots and fine lines and brighten uneven tone.

Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum

Wake up to brighter, firmer skin with this power-packed overnight serum. The ingredient list features a skincare dream team of AHAs, BHAs, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, peptides, and bakuchiol.

boscia Cherry Blossom and Bakuchiol Resurfacing Lip Repair

Formulated specifically for the lip area, this leave-on treatment plumps, smooths, and resurfaces with lactic acid and bakuchiol.

Omorovicza Miracle Facial Oil

Massage in this luxurious blend of bakuchiol, sea buckthorn oil, and seaweed extract at night, wake up to deeply replenished skin in the morning.

PSA Skin Liquid Clarity: BHA & Bakuchiol Blemish Recovery Booster

A unique booster formulated with blemish-prone skin in mind. Salicylic acid, bakuchiol, and zinc PCA work to clear pores, calm acne, and fade hyperpigmentation.