Why Bakuchiol is Picking Up Steam as an Anti-Aging Super-Ingredient

One of the single families of ingredients you can get in a skincare regimen are retinoids, a class of Vitamin A-derived ingredients which have the ability to improve collagen production and actively reverse existing signs of aging (while slowing the progression of those same signs). This includes fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, rough skin, and more.

There are a handful of different types of retinoids—from lower-grade over-the-counter options (we tend to call these retinols, even though there is some gray area with that term), as well as prescription-grade tretinoin (which can amplify the benefits of the Vitamin A, but with side effects for many). Luckily, there is a natural alternative to retinoids, and one with very little side effects at that: Bakuchiol. While it doesn’t possess Vitamin A, bakuchiol’s benefits look awfully similar to retinoids’.

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    In short, bakuchiol is an oil extracted from an herb called babchi, which is native to China, India, South Africa, and across the Himalayas. You pronounce it like “bah-COO-chyeel”. 

    “[Like retinoids,] bakuchiol works to stimulate collagen production and diminish the appearance of signs of aging,” says board-certified NYC cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green. And also similar to retinoids, you’ll need to use bakuchiol for a few months (typically 90-ish days) before seeing these profound results. That’s a couple skin cell turnover cycles’ worth of time, see, which allows for those long-term changes to take shape. And you’ll also want to continue using the ingredient in order to maintain those benefits.

    “Bakuchiol can be used when you notice signs of aging or want to increase the rate of cell turnover on the skin,” explains Green. She does warn that anyone who expects the same results as a prescription-grade tretinoin should tailor expectations, though: While studies prove the impressive efficacy of those top-shelf retinoids, bakuchiol is more akin to the lower-grade retinoids that one finds in OTC formulas. And that’s not a bad thing—in fact, it could be music to your ears, especially if you use a host of ingredients to target signs of aging, or have particularly sensitive skin.

    Read on for the other key skin benefits provided by bakuchiol (many of which fall under that “anti-aging” umbrella).

    Bakuchiol Benefits for Skin

    1. Smooths and firms skin

    Because bakuchiol’s benefits mimic those of Vitamin A, it most notably reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles (as well as other signs of aging), by promoting collagen production and improving skin elasticity. This also helps with skin’s resilience, which decreases as we age, hence leading to longer wound healing or an increase in hyperpigmentation. (More complexion benefits are listed below.)

    2. Thwarts toxins

    As an antioxidant, bakuchiol can help protect the skin from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. This may contribute to preventing premature aging and damage from environmental factors. In addition to reducing wear from things like city pollution, UV rays, and the everyday exposure we experience from blue-light devices, antioxidants can also reduce the impact of internal stress on one’s appearance. In short, it provides reliance and defense.

    3. Improves skin texture

    Regular use of bakuchiol may contribute to smoother skin texture. Like retinoids, bakuchiol can also expedite and regulate cellular turnover, leading to a more even complexion and reduced roughness. (It can even reduce the need for exfoliants in one’s regimen, an added benefit for anyone with sensitive skin or who likes to minimize their products by maximizing those same products’ benefits.)

    4. Anti-inflammatory properties

    Bakuchiol also has promise as an anti-inflammatory ingredient, which adds to its appeal for anyone with sensitive skin or inflammatory skin conditions. And this also means it can calm redness and irritation. Furthermore, bakuchiol won’t dehydrate skin, making it optimal for anyone who finds retinoids too drying (or whose skin is too naturally parched for such a potentially aggressive active ingredient).

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