Bakuchiol vs Retinol An Alternative or Skincare Disaster?

Bakuchiol vs Retinol An Alternative or Skincare Disaster?

In the world of skincare, the quest for the perfect ingredient that promises youthful, vibrant skin is never-ending. Today, we're diving into a battle that's been brewing in beauty circles: Bakuchiol vs Retinol. You might have tried retinol, or trying to find alternatives for your current skincare routine. Let me state the obvious, it isn't easy.

Finding the right product for your skin, is like looking for a pin in a haystack.  This article is your ticket to understanding everything about these two powerhouses. Whether you're a skincare aficionado or a newcomer looking for effective solutions, stick around to uncover which ingredient deserves a spot in your skincare routine.

Retinol vs Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol and Retinol have been at the forefront of skincare conversations, each hailed for their transformative effects. Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, has long been the gold standard for combating acne, reducing wrinkles, and improving skin texture. Bakuchiol, often dubbed the 'natural alternative to retinol' or 'vegetable retinol' that is derived from the babchi plant a.k.a. Psoralea corylifolia and has gained popularity for its gentle yet effective properties. Unlike retinol, bakuchiol is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and doesn't cause the typical irritation associated with retinol use. But, with time and research spent, retinol has not lost the battle quite yet.

The Science Behind Skincare: How Do They Work?

Both ingredients work by accelerating cell turnover, but through different mechanisms. Retinol stimulates fibroblasts that proliferate the collagen production and speed up cell renewal. Bakuchiol, on the other hand, mimics these effects by stimulating the retinoid receptors that create collagen type 1 says David Delport, global ambassador for Ren Clean Skincare, but without the harshness, making it a safer alternative for those with sensitive skin. Studies have shown that bakuchiol can significantly improve skin texture and elasticity, much like retinol, but with fewer side effects. However, these studies have been in small sample sizes, with some being inconclusive due to other factors.  


What is Bakuchiol?

First and foremost, bakuchiol is not an retinoid.  It is actually a meroterpenoid in the class terpenophenol.  Unlike retinol which is a derivative of Vitamin A.  Furthermore, it is an oil extracted from the psoralea corylifolia plant, native to India. But, it has been used in medicine in many cultures for its anti inflammatory benefits. in particular, Ayurvedic or traditional Hindu medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. In terms of skincare, bakuchiol was discovered around the same time retinols were being used in 1966. But, was commercially developed and sold as a cosmetic by Sytenol® A in 2007.  As such, it isn't something that has been around for very long, and little studies have been conducted since.  It is supposed to be an alternative for retinol for its use on sensitive skin. However, with the many formulations and brand of retinol, the sensitivity should not be a concern anymore. But, in both bakuchiol, and retinol, even though it says that it is for sensitive skin, as it speeds up the cell turnover, both can cause irritations if not used with utmost care.  

Does Bakuchiol Cause Purging?

In rare situations, this can cause purging, but purging in itself isn't a bad thing, it means that the active ingredient, in this case, the retinol or bakuchiol is working.  However, if it worsens or continues, you should stop and consult with your dermatologist.  Purging in itself can cause whiteheads, blackheads, and other pimples, but don't worry, that is normal, it is accelerating the renewal of new skin, as they say in with the new out with the bad!  Which is essentially bringing the debris to the surface.  But as soon as it appears, it will go away.   


What Does Retinol Do?

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A.  This vitamin has a long and amazing history, which was discovered in 1916, and isolated in 1931, but was first commercially synthetically produced beginning in 1948.11

Interestingly, retinol is one of four categories of retinoids.  Which include, retinyl esters, retinol, retinaldehyde, and retinoic acid.. Where retinyl esters, retinol, and retinaldehyde can be purchased over the counter or OTC. While, retinoic acid has to be prescribed.   

But, in a nutshell, retinol is an active ingredient that stimulates fibroblasts to produce more collagen.  This is a bit simplified, but all you need to know is that it reduces wrinkles and fine lines, as well as uneven skin tones.  

Is Retinol An Exfoliant?

Retinol is not an exfoliant, it is an retinoid. due to the fact that it does not have the alpha and beta hydroxy acids that can break down dead skin cells.  In actuality is is closer to an antioxidant.  (Disregarding the fact that it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.)

Lets examine what an exfoliant is. There are two types of exfoliants, physical and chemical.  Physical exfoliants, also called brushes can clear the buildup from the skin's surface of dead skin cells.  Think of it as sand paper for the skin, well, this is a slight exaggeration, but it can be harsh on dry and sensitive skin types. On the other hand, there are chemical exfoliants, that can be as harsh as physical exfoliant to your skin, but instead of being abrasive, it actually chemically dissolves dead skin cells.  

When to Start Using Retinol?

While, there isn't a set age to start using retinols, as you age, your collagen fibers decrease, where many dermatologists recommend that you should start in your mid to late 20s.  But, it does depend on your skin concerns. As skin type, and how you deal with it, can ultimately be a tell tale sign. 

How Often Should I Use Retinol?

In short, it depends.  Eventually, you may be able to use it everyday, but, your skin needs time to adjust to this.  Like any product, patch test it.  You know your body better than anyone else, and that means that you don't want to rush things.  After patch testing, try applying the retinol product once a week.  Afterwards, try to use it starting with 7 days than 4 days and then 2 days apart from each other.  Side effects such as redness, dry, and hot to the touch may occur. But, this is normal.  If it continues, stop using the products and talk to your dermatologist.  

But, these intervals can span for as long as needed to get your skin adjusted to the routine. For me, it sometimes took a month or longer to get used to the change of certain skincare ingredients. 

Can You Use BHA with Retinol?

It depends, but normally, it should not be used separately. While, it may be ok to use it if it is formulated in one product, it is not a good idea to use it separately in your skincare routine.  

Let's understand what BHA is:

BHA, a.k.a. beta hydroxy acid or salicylic acid that is derived from white willow bark.  Salicylic acid is well known for its benefits in acne, dandruff, and psoriasis. Which can be irritating to the skin.  As such, if mixed with retinol, it can further irritate skin types, especially, dry and sensitive skin types.

Can Retinol Cause Acne?

In rare cases, it can cause acne.  This is the process called skin purging.  This can cause temporary cases of whiteheads, blackheads, and other types of pimples.  

Does Retinol Expire?

Simple answer is yes, it has an expiration date.  Which is around 2 years after the manufacturing date.  It isn't recommended using since it may lose effectiveness and cause further irritations to the skin.  

Should I Use Retinol or Hyaluronic Acid First?

There's a debate going on whether you should use retinol first or hyaluronic acid. But, in reality, it depends on your skin type as well as, your skin routine. We recommend that you use hyaluronic acid before retinol due to the fact that it will keep a barrier between your skin and the retinol.  

Key Takeaways

Retinol and bakuchiol have their pros and cons, but due to the fact that bukachiol has only been commercially used for a shorter time compared to retinol, as well as, has less studies in place, we would recommend retinol as it is a tried and true ingredient with data to back it up.  However, bakuchiol can be used on all skin types due to its less irritating properties.