Bakuchiol vs Retinol: Which is better? Expert Insight

Both bakuchiol and retinol are ingredients used in skincare formulas to address signs of aging, namely helping to minimize the look of fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots.

Bakuchiol is a newer cosmetic ingredient compared to retinol, which has a history of use in skincare that spans many decades. However, as many people know, not everyone can tolerate the side effects of retinol, which is what makes bakuchiol so compelling.

Clinical studies show that bakuchiol can deliver similar results as retinol, without the negative side effects, making it a great option for those who are unable to use retinol but desire the same results.

Keep reading to learn how bakuchiol vs retinol compares and which is going to be best for your unique skin needs.

What Is Bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol, pronounced “buh-koo-chee-all”, is a retinol alternative derived from the seeds of the babchi plant.

Bakuchiol is quickly becoming a popular ingredient in the skincare industry due to its numerous skin benefits that range from tackling signs of aging to providing antioxidant protection.

Bakuchiol has been clinically tested and is considered a true retinol alternative due to the fact that it delivers similar results without the irritation, photosensitivity or general concerns associated with traditional retinol products.


How Does Bakuchiol Work?

Bakuchiol gets its rejuvenating powers from the seeds of the babchi plant. However, they have to go through a purification process to be safe for skincare application as they contain phototoxic compounds.

After this purification process, bakuchiol is added to serums and creams at a recommended percentage of 0.5-1%.

Bakuchiol contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating properties, making it a multi-functional cosmetic active.

A study using .5% bakuchiol over 12 weeks demonstrated a significant reduction in wrinkle depth and hyperpigmentation. Another study using 1% bakuchiol showed a 57% reduction in acne over 6 weeks.


Who Should Consider Bakuchiol Over Retinol?

If you consider your skin sensitive or have had a negative reaction to retinol in the past, then bakuchiol may be a great option for you.

In addition, if you spend a lot of time in the sun, bakuchiol is non-photosensitizing unlike retinol, making it a safer option.


Bakuchiol Vs Retinol Comparison


Bakuchiol vs Retinol Benefits



A randomized, double-blind study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, was conducted over a 12-week period with 44 subjects who used either a 0.5% bakuchiol cream or a 0.5% retinol cream twice daily, demonstrated that bakuchiol improved signs of aging, similar to retinol.

The results showed that both ingredients reduced wrinkle depth by 20% after 12 weeks. However, bakuchiol reduced hyperpigmentation by 59% compared to only a 44% reduction in subjects using retinol.

It’s worth noting, outside of this study, depending on the strength and type of retinol, some retinols are able to deliver results that rival bakuchiol, but with side-effects.


Skin Types

Bakuchiol is generally tolerated by most skin types, including sensitive. Retinol on the other hand can be a bit trickier for sensitive skin types due to its side effects.


Side Effects

Bakuchiol is not known to have any side effects, making it a great option for anyone looking for a gentler alternative.

Retinol on the other hand, is known to cause redness, irritation, dryness, peeling and increased sensitivity to the sun. It is also not safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


The Verdict

When comparing bakuchiol vs retinol, they both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Retinol has been extensively studied and has been around for many decades. Bakuchiol on the other hand, is a newer ingredient with less studies.

Depending on the type of retinol, it may be more effective at addressing signs of aging than bakuchiol. However, bakuchiol is able to deliver similar results without the irritation and sun sensitivity, making it an ideal solution for some.

So, it really boils down to your unique skin needs and goals.

Bakuchiol Natural Retinol Alternative

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Looking For Retinol-like Results, Without Irritation?

Shopping For A Bakuchiol Serum? Here’s Our Expert Advice:


Choose Protective Packaging

Look for a bakuchiol serum that’s in light-protective glass packaging, such as an amber, violet or black glass bottle. Choose a bottle with a pump instead of a dropper, as droppers introduce air and bacteria with each use.


Look For A Correctly Formulated Product

Many companies try to trick consumers into thinking that more is better by using a high percentage of an active, even if it’s not recommended by the manufacturer of the ingredient.

This is commonly done with Vitamin C serums, even though after a certain percentage the benefits don’t increase, but sensitivity does.

More is not better when it comes to bakuchiol. The manufacture of bakuchiol does not recommend going above 1% as the benefits do not increase and the risk for a negative reaction does.


Avoid Formulas With Irritating Fragrance And Photosensitizing Essential Oils

Added fragrance/perfume and photosensitizing essential oils have no benefits to your skin, and for many, can cause allergic reactions and irritated skin.

Essential oils such as lemon, grapefruit and bergamot (think citrus) can make skin sensitive to the sun — making you more susceptible to skin damage — which is why we recommend avoiding them.


Bakuchiol Vs Retinol Frequently Asked Questions


Is Bakuchiol As Effective As Retinol?

Studies show that bakuchiol is able to deliver similar results to retinol, but without the irritation, flaking and increased sun sensitivity associated with regular retinol use.


Can You Use Bakuchiol With Retinol?

Yes, bakuchiol and retinol can be combined to maximize your results.


Can I Use Bakuchiol Every Day?

Yes, bakuchiol is gentle enough to use daily.


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Disclaimer: This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Root Science nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any skincare, nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program. The views and products expressed are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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