Bakuchiol, a Plant-based Alternative for Retinol?

Publish DateDec 28, 2021

Retinol is 
one of the most trusted ingredients used for years for dismissing wrinkles, fine lines, and dull skin. It ia vitamin A derivative and the third strongest form of retinoid. It promotes skin cell renewal and stimulates collagen production. About 12 weeks of religious use can result in smoother, firmer, and all-around more youthful-looking skin.

However, while it favors many, retinol is not very friendly with all skin types. It can be harsh, cause or aggravate underlying issues. It can prove to be dangerous in some cases rather than beneficial. Side effects such as burning, scaling are common complaints from people who have dabbled with retinol in their skincare.  

The erratic performance of retinol on various skin types has given rise to the popularity of an alternative, bakuchiol. Bakuchiol is a plant-based vitamin A derivate popular for collagen boosting properties and has come to be known as a skincare ingredient that can replace retinol.

It is an oil extracted from the native plant babchi and provides almost all the benefits of retinol. Collagen is present in our skin, but as we grow older, our skin tends to produce less amount of collagen, which results in fine lines and wrinkles. Bakuchiol does not necessarily produce collagen but triggers skin cell repair for rejuvenation. Collagen is one of the most vital components of smooth, youthful-looking skin. Bakuchiol is definitely an active ingredient, but unlike other actives, it does not pose any threat with sun exposure. It does not leave the skin sensitive to the UV raysit provides sun protection.  

Is bakuchiol beneficial? 

The up-and-coming bakuchiol is a plant extract that’s claimed to have been used in Chinese and Indian restorative medicine for years. 

It works through the same receptors that retinol uses, which is why many refer to it as a natural retinol alternative. The glaring similarity in the results is why bakuchiol is giving retinol a run for its money. 

The benefits from Bakuchiol are:  

  • Improves skin texture 

  • Improves skin tone 

  • Boosts hydration levels 

  • Reduces hyperpigmentation and sun damage 

  • Reduces acne flare-ups and breakouts 

Other reasons that Bakuchiol owes its growing popularity are, it’s a natural alternative to retinol, it is not as irritating
, and also, it’s a great option for anyone who wants to shop clean or is a vegan. It’s also a great alternative for people who suffer from skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or others. 

To get the full picture, let’s review the differences between bakuchiol vs. retinol.

of the major differences is that while bakuchiol is always vegan and plant-based, the same can’t be said for all retinoids. Some retinol products are harvested from produce, such as squash, carrots, and cantaloupe. Unfortunately, other retinoids can be made from animal byproducts, which makes bakuchiol more appealing to vegans and vegetarians.

The reason we can even compare these two is because the function of bakuchiol to retinol is quite similar. They’re both great ingredients for addressing signs of aging in the skin – this includes enlarged pores, fine lines, age spots and blemishes, and of course, wrinkles. Tried, tested, and true, retinol has always been a top-tier product to maintain or achieve a glowing, ageless complexion. 

Taking a quick look at 
potency, effectiveness, and skin sensitivity, bakuchiol is definitely less powerful than retinol, and results might take longer to show. However, it’s great for all skin types, including sensitive skinRetinol has been researched for years through which it is possible to prove its effectiveness and associated risks.

In terms of benefits, these two compare well – however, retinol 
can edge bakuchiol if only results are considered. 

Now we know
: bakuchiol is a plant based-alternative and suitable for a wider variety of skin types, but overall likely to be less effective. This still does not deter its growing demand within skincare aficionados. 

How to determine which option is best for you? 

Sensitive Skin – Acneic Skin – Reactive Skin 

If your skin falls into the category of sensitive or reactive, it’s better to be safe and start off with the gentler option. Not only does this provide anti-aging benefits in an inclusive way for sensitive skin types, but bakuchiol will help address the enlarged pores that can sometimes contribute to acne and breakouts. 


Bakuchiol makes for the better vegan option because it’s always plant-based. Though there are plant-based retinol options, bakuchiol is a fully natural plant-based option that anyone can use. 

Acneic Skin

The feeling of finally getting to the bottom of our blemishes and breakouts is priceless, but this discovery often results in a skin care product revamp. If removing acne scars is a huge goal, retinol is an effective option. 

-Time Testers

If you are a first-time tester, start with the gentler option.  When we aren’t sure how our skin may react with the product, starting with bakuchiol will help test out how impactful these products can be. After a few months of consistency, swapping out bakuchiol for a robust retinol treatment will help revitalize the skin and efficiently address any leftover indications of premature aging or hyperpigmentation. 

Seasonal Skin Care

Retinol results in sun sensitivity. Keeping that in mind, it is advised to start with retinol in fall/winter seasons while spending less time outdoors. A sunscreen is, however, always recommended, winter or summer.  

The choice between retinol or bakuchiol simply boils down to one’s own skincare needs and opinions. If sensitive skin type, it doesn’t hurt to use bakuchiol. For those with more resilient skin types, you can use a mix of both. Some skin types adapt very easily, and it can be a good opportunity to alter your routines often to get the best results. All ingredients need to be used as supplements, and not one is superior to the other. It’s just a matter of what is needed.


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Author: Somrita Ganchoudhuri

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