Bakuchiol - a natural retinol alternative

Posted by Emily van Oosterom on

In recent years, there has been an increased interest in natural and plant-based alternatives to synthetic actives in skincare products, and bakuchiol is one such ingredient that has gained popularity. Bakuchiol is a natural compound derived from the seeds of the babchi plant (Psoralea corylifolia) and has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It is considered a functional analogue of retinol and has been found to have similar benefits in terms of skin rejuvenation, without the associated side effects. 

Production of Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol is extracted from the seeds of the babchi plant using a process called supercritical CO2 extraction. This process involves using carbon dioxide in its supercritical state to extract the desired compounds from the plant material. Supercritical CO2 extraction is considered a more environmentally friendly and safer method of extraction than traditional solvent-based methods, as it uses non-toxic, non-flammable, and renewable carbon dioxide as the solvent. After extraction, the bakuchiol is purified and then used in skincare formulations.

Benefits and Mechanisms of Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol has been found to have several benefits for the skin, including anti-aging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to stimulate collagen production, which helps to improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Bakuchiol also has antioxidant properties, which help to protect the skin from free radical damage and oxidative stress. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to soothe irritated skin and reduce redness.

The mechanism of action of bakuchiol is similar to that of retinol, as both compounds stimulate the production of collagen and increase cell turnover. However, unlike retinol, bakuchiol does not cause skin irritation, sensitivity, or dryness, which are common side effects associated with retinol use. Bakuchiol has also been found to be a potent inhibitor of the enzyme elastase, which is responsible for the breakdown of elastin in the skin. This property makes bakuchiol useful in preventing and reducing the appearance of photoaging and skin damage caused by UV radiation.

Safety of Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol has been found to be safe for use in skincare products, with no reported adverse effects. It is considered to be non-irritating, non-sensitising, and non-phototoxic, which makes it suitable for use in sensitive and reactive skin types. Additionally, bakuchiol is not photosensitising, which means that it can be used during the day without the need for additional sun protection, unlike retinol.



  1. Chaudhuri, R. K., & Bojanowski, K. (2014). Bakuchiol: A retinol-like functional compound revealed by gene expression profiling and clinically proven to have anti-aging effects. International journal of cosmetic science, 36(3), 221-230.
  2. Mukherjee, S., Date, A., Patravale, V., Korting, H. C., Roeder, A., & Weindl, G. (2006). Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clinical interventions in aging, 1(4), 327-348.
  3. Soleymani, T., Lanoue, J., & Rahman, Z. (2018). A practical approach to chemical peels: a review of fundamentals and step-by-step algorithmic protocol for treatment. Journal of cutaneous medicine and surgery, 22(2), 207-222.



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