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Ingredient Spotlight Bakuchiol

November 6, 2017 Reviewed by Marta 1 Comment

I first came across bakuchiol in Ao Skincare products and was intrigued to discover that this unusual plant extract is both a natural alternative to retinol and a way to boost retinol’s efficacy. I predict that bakuchiol will be a new trend in skincare and here’s why you need to have it on your radar.

First the basics. Bakuchiol is a terpenophenol – a class of chemical compounds from plants that is exemplified by cannabis.  However, bakuchiol is not weed. There are two main sources: psoralea corylifolia (babchi), an important plant in Indian Ayurveda; it is also found in otholobium pubescens, a plant from Peru. It has a long history in Chinese and Indian medicine for healing cuts, soothing rashes and calming redness.

More recently, science is revealing bakuchiol to have potential to help with cancer, acne and aging skin.

In one study, scientists concluded that bakuchiol behaves in the same way as resveratrol – the antioxidant that typically is found in grapes – having a posititve effect on cancer tumors (source).

As far as anti-aging skincare is concerned, the most exciting study compared bakuchiol to retinol. In a paper published in International Journal of Cosmetic Science, the authors said that although bakuchiol bears no structural resemblance to retinoids, it can function in the same way. Retinol-like functionality was confirmed for the upregulation of types I and IV collagen and in the stimulation of type III collagen. The researchers also formulated bakuchiol into a finished skin care product and tested it in clinical case study with a twice-a-day facial application. The results showed that, after 12 weeks treatment, significant improvement in lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, elasticity, firmness and overall reduction in photo-damage was observed, without usual retinol therapy-associated undesirable effects. (source)

All the benefits of retinol, without the typical side effects of retinol – such as drying and irritation – sounds amazing. But this is based on only this one study. More research is on its way as I spotted that University of California is undertaking a new study (source) to compare bakuchiol and retinol.

Bakuchiol is also a treatment for acne due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Again the research, while encouraging, is limited. In a small study of 13 people, just under half were found to have clear or nearly clear skin after the trial. Only one patient suffered the adverse effects of mild dryness and peeling.

As you know, I am very interested in the relationship between mitochondria – the energy source in our cells - and aging and I am always on the look out for any ingredients that can boost mitochondrial activity. Bakuchiol has been found to have mitochondrial protective properties. It protects the mitochondrial lipid form peroxidation, protecting the mitochondria from oxidative stress (Planta Medica). Studies have found that it works as an antioxidant protecting lipids and proteins by free-radial scavenging (Chemical Research in Toxicology, Radiation Chemistry).

  • August 2, 2018

    by Celeste

    Hi! Is it feasible to add Essential oils to a crean with Bakuchiol ?

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