The Buzz About Bakuchiol: Here's Everything You Need to Know About the Retinol Alternative

Deanna Pai
Better Homes & Gardens

Meet the year's most promising skincare star: bakuchiol (buhkoo-chee-awl). The hard-to-pronounce but easy-to-love ingredient comes from babchi plant seeds and has long been a staple in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Hailed as a botanical alternative to retinol, this skincare ingredient offers similar results to the anti-aging staple without irritation. Here's what you need to know about bakuchiol.

What is Bakuchiol?

Lately, bakuchiol is showing up in anti-aging products like serums and creams because it shares similar properties as the popular vitamin A derivative retinol. That's high praise considering retinol's clinically proven track record. "Retinol is the gold standard for boosting cell turnover and collagen production and fading discoloration," says New York City-based dermatologist Melissa K. Levin, M.D.

What Does Bakuchiol Do?

Like retinol, bakuchiol targets the genes and proteins that spur collagen production and enhance cell turnover deep within the skin. The results: softened wrinkles, improved texture, and more even skin tone.

Bakuchiol vs. Retinol

So why consider one over the other? Bakuchiol has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in reparative antioxidants, so it's very gentle, Levin says. If your skin is too sensitive for retinol (dryness, redness, flaking, and sun sensitivity are common side effects) or you follow a green beauty routine, treatment with bakuchiol might be a better fit.

How to Use It

Apply bakuchiol as a serum, in a cream, or with a single-use wipe, morning and night. Here are four editor-approved bakuchiol products to add to your skincare routine.

Face Pads

These gentle face pads reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, and reveal smoother and softer skin. They're safe to use morning and night and work well with dry, oily, and combination complexions. They're free of phthalates, sulfates, parabens, and fragrances, so they're safe for sensitive skin.

Buy It: Indeed Laboratories Bakuchiol Reface Pads, $19.99, Ulta

Eye Cream

Say goodbye to tired-looking eyes with this cream. It reduces puffiness, crow's feet, and fine lines to make you look younger. After just four weeks, 91% of users said their eye area became brighter, and 97% said the under-eye area felt deeply hydrated.

Buy It: Beautycounter Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream, $69, Beautycounter

Night Cream

Let this rich cream work while you get your beauty sleep. It targets fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots to reveal glowy, youthful-looking skin. It's gentle, yet effective, and safe for all skin types.

Buy It: OleHenriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-Alt Sleeping Créme, $55, Sephora

Daily Serum

If you're craving firmer skin, add this serum into your morning routine. It improves the texture of the skin and gives your face a boost of hydration thanks to vitamin E.

Buy It: Burt's Bees Renewal Intensive Firming Serum, $20, Target

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