When it comes to ingredients that literally do it all, retinol tops the list. From ageing and acne to pigmentation, oiliness, texture and even dryness, the vitamin A derivative is used topically to treat almost every skin concern under the sun, turning back time while it’s at it. But, although it may sound like all your skincare prayers have been answered, before you go slathering on retinol like there’s no tomorrow, it’s not all good news. Retinol is a potent powerhouse that can wreak havoc on sensitive skins and conditions such as rosacea and eczema, causing redness, flakiness and serious irritation instead of gorgeously glowing skin. But what if we told you that there was a vegan, all-natural alternative that promises to do everything retinol does, only with no sensitivity or irritating side effects? Enter: Bakuchiol. 

What is Bakuchiol?
“Bakuchiol is a wonderful active that we’ve been using for over 6 years. It is derived from Indian Babchi seeds, which have been traditionally used for centuries to heal cuts,” explains Georgie Cleeve, founder of Oskia skincare. “It actively stimulates the three key processes associated with retinol but without the sensitivity associated with it”. Plus, it can be used on even the most sensitive of skins. As David Delport, Product expert and ambassador for REN explains, “Because it’s not retinol, a retinoid, or even vitamin A, anyone can use it, including sensitive skin, rosacea-prone skin and those suffering from eczema.”

The Beauty Benefits of Bakuchiol
So, what exactly does bakuchiol do? To put it simply, “It stimulates collagen, reduces pigmentation release and lowers inflammation. It’s perfect for visibly aged skin, or as a preventative as it contains high levels of natural antioxidants”, says Delport. But does it actually rival its vitamin A counterpart? According to the experts, it’s just as effective. “There are many independent studies that show it has the same effect on collagen-producing gene expression via the RXR/RAR receptor system, yet without the irritation and side effects”, Delport explains.

But there is one minor difference, and – unlike retinol – bakuchiol won’t remove dead cells. “What it doesn’t do is exfoliate or speed up the desquamation process like retinol, which as a negative point makes it milder, but as a positive, completely eradicates any sensitivities or inflammation,” says Cleeve.

How to use Bakuchiol
“Start by using a few drops at night, either on its own, or layered under a night moisturiser. You want to make sure it is the first thing that goes onto your skin after cleansing”, advises Delport. “Although it won’t make you photosensitive per se, you should always wear an SPF the next day as not to undo the damage repaired by incorporating Bakuchiol into your routine.  Most clients don’t find any irritation or redness when using Bukuchiol, but if you do, build the product into your routine by using every few nights and work up to every night. I’ve been using it for around 10 years and my skin hasn’t changed much in that time – I will be 40 this year. I’m convinced that this is the product that has preserved me!” 

Be sure to invest in a serum too, as according to Cleeve, that way it “it penetrates quickly and thoroughly into the skin cells without any barriers.”.

So, on that note, shop our edit of the best bakuchiol beauty buys below.


The Super Serum

Oskia Super 16 Serum, £90
As its name suggests, Oskia’s Super 16 Serum is crammed full of 16 super ingredients to deliver key nutrients and bio-actives to the skin. These include bakuchiol (of course) to boost the production of collagen and elastin whilst fighting against future damage, hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture, sea fennel and vitamin C to brighten and counteract pigmentation, and the brand’s signature MSM to fortify the skin’s protective barrier. Add to that its gorgeous, rosy scent, and you’ll soon be hooked.


The Peeper Perfector

This Works My Wrinkles Tired Eyes, £45
The skin around our eyes is much thinner and more sensitive than the rest of the face, and – to make matters worse – it also happens to be the first area that women neglect when it comes to anti-ageing. The good news is, this potent peeper perfecter from This Works really does, well, work. While you sleep it loads skin up with bakuchiol, Persian silk tree extract and hyaluronic acid to increase cell turnover, reduce puffiness and dark circles and deeply moisturise. Sleeping Beauty eat your heart out.


The Clever Cream

REN Bio Retinoid Anti-Ageing Cream, £45
“When we pioneered this ingredient, we wanted to bring a ‘retinol like’ result to every consumer, even those with sensitive skin”, says Delport, who (like us) swears by REN’s Bakuchiol-packed anti-ageing cream. The proof is in the pudding, so they say, and with impressive results that show its clinically proven to increase collagen production by 24%, reduce pigmentation by 50% and reduce inflammation by 35% in just 28-days, we need say no more.


The All-Rounder Oil

Omorovicza Miracle Facial Oil, £82
Omorovicza’s Miracle Facial Oil is just that – a miracle in a bottle. A rich blend of nourishing oils, including sea buckthorn berry, sweet almond and rosehip, it provides antioxidant protection and helps strengthen the skin’s barrier. There’s also kelp extract to enhance elasticity and firmness, bakuchiol to treat fine lines and wrinkles and increase collagen production, and mineral-rich, healing Hungarian water.


The Lip Lover

111Skin Meso Infusion Lip Duo, £40
Want a plumper pout, smoother smile and soft, hydrated lips? Of course, you do, which is why 111Skin’s dreamy lip duo should be on your shopping list. A two-in-one magic wand for your mouth, it comprises a bakuchiol infused serum mask to smooth out fine lines and lock in moisture and a volume-boosting balm that boosts collagen production. Can you say pucker up?

words by Frankie Rozwadowska