A natural antioxidant and anti-ageing ingredient found in the seeds and leaves of the plant Psoralea corylifolia. This plant, also known as babchi, is native to and grows throughout India, where it plays a role in Ayurvedic medicine, and is also found in China (where it’s used in Chinese natural medicine) as well as parts of Africa. Ongoing in vitro (Petri dish) and in vivo (on skin) research has shown that bakuchiol seems to have skin-restoring ability when applied twice daily, and that it may also have a brightening effect on skin. Research has also shown this plant ingredient has soothing and anti-wrinkle properties as well as helping to visibly improve skin colour and tone.

Bakuchiol is often touted as an alternative to retinol minus the sensitising effects some people experience from retinol. The association between bakuchiol and retinol is because many of its benefits seem to mimic what retinol does; however, it’s important to distinguish that bakuchiol is not identical to retinol. It’s not an equivalent replacement any more than a blueberry is the nutritional equivalent of an apple.

Science has revealed that bakuchiol interacts with many of the same areas in skin as retinol, sometimes by taking the same pathway, other times by going a different route but still leading to the same results, such as diminished wrinkles, improved elasticity, and smoother skin. In either case, we’re confident that bakuchiol is a promising, beneficial ingredients whose actions can complement and enhance what retinol does for skin.

Research has confirmed that bakuchiol works best in concentrations between 0.5-2%. Amounts lower than that have not been shown to provide retinol-like benefits.

References for this information:

Pharmacological Research, March 2019, pages 208-213

British Journal of Dermatology, February 2019, pages 253-254

Oncotarget, March 2016, pages 14,616-14,627

International Journal of Cosmetic Science, June 2014, issue 3, pages 221-230

Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, Volume 74, Issue 7, 2010, pages 1504-1506

The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2010, pages 105-114

Pharmacognosy Review, January-June 2010, pages 68-76

Back to Ingredient Dictionary

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!