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Bakuchiol Oil Skin Benefits and Uses: Is It a Retinol Alternative?

Medically reviewed by:
 Dr. Lucy Chen, MD – Board-Certified Dermatologist

Dr. Lucy Chen, MD – Board-Certified Dermatologist

Dr. Lucy Chen, MD, is a highly regarded board-certified dermatologist with a wealth of expertise in skin health, surgical dermatology, and cosmetic dermatology. She is known for her commitment to patient care and her dedication to advancing the field of dermatology. Her journey is marked by academic excellence, specialized training, and a genuine dedication to […]

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By: Christina Davies
Updated on: April 05, 2024
what is bakuchiol oil, tolerate retinol

Bakuchiol oil, pronounced bah-koo-chee-owl, is a naturally derived skincare ingredient recently gaining popularity in the beauty and cosmetic industry. Extracted from the seeds of the Psoralea Corylifolia plant, native to Eastern Asia, this oil has a long history of traditional use in various medicinal practices due to its remarkable benefits for the skin.

As the demand for natural and sustainable skincare solutions continues to rise, bakuchiol has emerged as a star ingredient, often touted as a safe and effective alternative to synthetic compounds. With its versatile properties and gentle nature, pure bakuchiol oil has captured the attention of skincare enthusiasts and beauty experts, promising to revolutionize how we approach anti-aging, skin brightening, and overall skin health.

History and Origins

Bakuchiol’s history can be traced back to traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, where it was valued for its rejuvenating and healing properties. However, it wasn’t until recent scientific studies that its potential as a natural alternative to retinol, a popular anti-aging ingredient, came to light.

Bakuchiol oil has been a part of Eastern medicine for many years. In ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic practices, the Psoralea Corylifolia plant, also known as the babchi oil plant, was used for its medicinal properties. The seeds of this plant were crushed to extract an oil that was then utilized to treat various skin conditions and promote skin health.

Over the years, modern science has shown an increased interest in plant-based skincare ingredients, leading to the discovery of bakuchiol’s unique properties.

“The recent hype about bakuchiol is definitely promising as it’s proven to have unique anti-aging and anti-inflammatory capabilities,” says Dr. Lucy Chen. “Though it has no structural molecular similarities to retinol, bakuchiol can act like a retinol at the cellular level.”

Research studies have highlighted its potential as an effective alternative to retinol, a widely used compound known for its anti-aging benefits. Unlike retinol, which can cause skin irritation and sensitivity in some individuals, bakuchiol is considered a gentler option, making it suitable for sensitive skin.

The Benefits of Bakuchiol Oil

1) Anti-Aging Properties

One of the most celebrated benefits of bakuchiol oil is its potent anti-aging properties. As we age, our skin experiences a decline in collagen production, leading to the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. Bakuchiol combats these signs of aging by stimulating collagen synthesis, thus promoting firmer, smoother, and more elastic skin. This natural collagen-boosting effect results in a plump and youthful complexion, effectively reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time.

2) Skin Brightening Effects

In addition to its anti-aging prowess, bakuchiol oil also exhibits skin-brightening abilities. Uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots are common concerns that can dull the complexion. Bakuchiol’s natural compounds inhibit melanin production, creating a more even skin tone and a radiant complexion. Regular use of bakuchiol products can help fade dark spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation, restoring the skin’s natural luminosity.

3) Antioxidant Abilities

As a potent antioxidant, bakuchiol oil is pivotal in defending the skin against harmful free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage the skin’s cells, leading to premature aging, collagen breakdown, and skin dullness. By neutralizing these free radicals, bakuchiol protects the skin from oxidative stress, which can positively affect the skin’s overall health and appearance.

4) Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Another standout feature of bakuchiol oil is its anti-inflammatory properties, making it highly effective in calming redness and soothing irritated skin. This characteristic is particularly beneficial for individuals with sensitive or acne-prone skin, as it can help reduce inflammation and promote a healthier complexion. Bakuchiol oil fosters a comfortable and balanced skin environment by alleviating redness and irritation.

5) Hydration and Moisturization

Hydration is fundamental to maintaining healthy skin, and bakuchiol oil also excels in this area. By supporting the skin’s natural barrier function, bakuchiol helps prevent water loss and aids in retaining moisture within the skin. As a result, the skin appears more plump, supple, and moisturized, reducing the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles and enhancing overall skin texture.

6) Collagen Protection

In addition to stimulating collagen production, bakuchiol oil plays a protective role in preserving the existing collagen in the skin. Collagen is a crucial protein that maintains the skin’s structure and elasticity. By shielding the skin cells and collagen fibers from damage caused by environmental stressors and free radicals, bakuchiol ensures that the skin retains its firmness and resilience.

7) Non-Irritating Alternative to Retinol

While highly effective, Retinol can be too harsh for some individuals, leading to irritation, redness, and flakiness, especially for sensitive skin. Bakuchiol offers a gentler alternative to retinol without compromising its anti-aging benefits.

“A small study of 44 patients from the British Journal of Dermatology showed bakuchiol helping to smooth lines and wrinkles and improve hyperpigmentation, with less flaking and stinging, compared to retinol,” says Dr. Chen.

It can be used by individuals with skin sensitivity or previously experienced adverse reactions to retinol or those seeking a milder skincare option.

8) Acne Management

Beyond its anti-aging properties, bakuchiol oil shows promise in managing acne-prone skin. Its anti-inflammatory nature helps reduce redness and swelling associated with acne breakouts, while its antibacterial properties target and combat the bacteria responsible for causing acne. As a result, bakuchiol supports a clearer and more balanced complexion.

9) Antimicrobial Effects

Bakuchiol’s antimicrobial effects extend beyond acne management. It can help protect the skin from harmful pathogens and microbes, reducing the likelihood of skin infections and maintaining overall skin health. This benefit further underscores the versatility of bakuchiol in addressing various other skin care concerns.

10) Wound Healing

Bakuchiol oil’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties also contribute to its potential in wound healing. It can aid in soothing irritated skin and supporting the natural healing process of minor wounds, cuts, and abrasions. It is a valuable addition to skincare products aimed at post-inflammatory healing.

11) Sun Damage Repair

Bakuchiol oil has demonstrated the ability to counteract some of the damaging effects of sun exposure. Prolonged sun exposure can lead to photoaging, resulting in wrinkles, sunspots, and loss of skin elasticity. Bakuchiol’s antioxidant properties help neutralize free radicals induced by UV radiation, repairing sun-damaged skin and preventing further harm.

12) Enhancing Skin Elasticity

Besides collagen stimulation, bakuchiol also supports the production of elastin, another essential protein responsible for skin elasticity. Improved elasticity contributes to firmer and more youthful-looking skin, reducing the appearance of sagging and promoting a more sculpted facial contour.

13) Pore Minimization

Bakuchiol’s skin-smoothing effects include minimizing the appearance of enlarged pores and creating a more refined and even skin texture. Reduced pore-size skin firmness can help achieve a smoother canvas for makeup application and contribute to a flawless complexion.

14) Suitable for Sensitive Skin

As mentioned, bakuchiol is well-tolerated by sensitive skin types due to its non-irritating nature. Individuals who have experienced adverse reactions to other skincare ingredients may find bakuchiol a gentle and effective option for their unique needs.

15) Redness Reduction

In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, bakuchiol can help reduce redness and blotchiness associated with skin conditions like rosacea, leading to a calmer and more even-toned complexion.

16) Antioxidant Synergy

Bakuchiol can work synergistically with other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, enhancing their effectiveness in neutralizing free radicals and providing a more robust defense against oxidative stress. This antioxidant synergy can further amplify the benefits of bakuchiol serum in skincare formulations by combining bakuchiol with other potent antioxidants.

How to Use Bakuchiol Oil

what is bakuchiol oil, tolerate retinol

Before incorporating bakuchiol oil into your skincare routine, perform a patch test to ensure you are not allergic to the oil. Once cleared, follow these steps:

Patch Test

Apply a small amount of bakuchiol oil to a discreet area on your arm and wait 24 hours. You can use it on similar skin benefits your face if there are no adverse reactions.

Incorporating Bakuchiol Oil Into Your Skincare Routine

Use bakuchiol oil in the evening after cleansing and toning for the best results. Gently massage a few drops onto your face and neck, then use a moisturizer. Remember to wear sunscreen during the day, as bakuchiol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

While bakuchiol is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience mild irritation or redness. If this occurs, reduce the frequency of use or discontinue the product. Pregnant or nursing individuals should consult their healthcare provider before using bakuchiol oil.

How Bakuchiol Differs from Retinol

Bakuchiol oil and retinol are skincare ingredients known for their anti-aging properties, but they differ in their origin, composition, and effects on human skin.

Retinol is a synthetic derivative of Vitamin A and has been a staple in the skincare industry for decades. It is widely praised for its ability to stimulate collagen production, promote cell turnover, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. However, retinol can be harsh, especially for sensitive skin types. Some individuals may experience redness, dryness, and irritation when using retinol products.

On the other hand, bakuchiol is a natural compound derived from the seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia plant. It has a long history of use in traditional medicine, particularly in Eastern cultures, for its healing and rejuvenating properties. In recent years, bakuchiol has gained popularity as a gentle alternative to retinol due to its similar anti-aging effects without the potential side effects of irritation and sensitivity.

One of the primary reasons that bakuchiol and retinol are considered gentler on the skin is their non-irritating nature. Unlike retinol, which can cause the skin to become red, flaky, and sensitive, bakuchiol is better tolerated by individuals with delicate or reactive skin. This makes it an excellent option for those seeking anti-aging benefits without the risk of irritation.

Fast Facts

DefinitionBakuchiol Oil is a natural plant extract derived from the Babchi plant (Psoralea corylifolia). It is often referred to as a natural alternative to retinol.
Cosmetic UseBakuchiol Oil is commonly used in skincare products for its potential anti-aging, antioxidant, and soothing properties. It aims to improve skin texture and tone.
Impact on Skin TypesGenerally suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It is less likely to irritate compared to retinol.
Potential BenefitsReduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, Promotes collagen production, Improves skin elasticity, Provides antioxidant protection and May help with acne-prone skin.
DrawbacksResults may be milder compared to retinol for some individuals and It may not work as rapidly as retinol in skin cell turnover.
Recommended UsageStart with 1-2 times per week and gradually increase to daily usage as tolerated.
Compatibility with Other IngredientsGenerally well-tolerated and can be used with most other skincare ingredients.
FrequencyUse once or twice daily, morning and/or night, depending on personal preference and skin tolerance.
Precautions/RecommendPerform a patch test before using to check for any adverse reactions, Avoid using other potent retinoids or exfoliating products to prevent excessive irritation and Always use sunscreen during the day as Bakuchiol may increase sun sensitivity.
Who Should UseSuitable for individuals looking for a natural alternative to retinol or those with sensitive skin prone to retinol irritation.
Works Well WithHyaluronic Acid for added hydration and Niacinamide to enhance skin texture and tone.
Don’t Use WithOther potent retinoids (Retin-A, tretinoin, etc.) and Strong exfoliants (AHA, BHA, etc.)


Q1: Is Bakuchiol Oil Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

Pregnant individuals should consult their healthcare provider before using bakuchiol oil to ensure it’s safe.

Q2: Can Bakuchiol Oil Replace Retinol in Skincare?

Bakuchiol can be a beneficial retinol alternative, especially for sensitive skin.

Q3: How Long Does It Take to See Results from Bakuchiol Oil?

Results may vary, but some individuals notice improved skin texture and appearance within a few weeks of consistent use.

Q4: Can I Use Bakuchiol Oil with Other Active Ingredients?

Bakuchiol can be safely combined with other active skincare ingredients, but avoiding using it with retinol is essential to prevent potential interactions.

Q5: Can Bakuchiol Oil Help with Acne?

Bakuchiol’s anti-inflammatory properties may help calm acne-prone skin, but results vary depending on the individual’s skin type and severity of acne.


Bakuchiol oil, a natural skincare gem, offers many benefits, ranging from anti-aging and brightening effects to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. As a gentle alternative to retinol, it has captured the attention of skincare enthusiasts worldwide. When integrating bakuchiol oil into your routine, perform a patch test and follow recommended guidelines for safe and effective usage.


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