Is bakuchiol better than retinol? I hear you my friend. The last thing you want to be doing is using an anti-ageing serum that does nothing to anti-age your skin.
That would be like eating chocolate cake but tasting lettuce 😉
I think you’re going to like what you’re about to find out 😀
Bakuchiol vs. Retinol
Alrighty, let’s get stuck in. Bakuchiol caused a tidal wave in the skincare world back in 2019 because of one published, open-access journal paper entitled;
“Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing”
Oooeee eh. Those are some fancy words right there.
Don’t worry about those big-daddy words :). All you need to know is that this study directly compared a 0.5% bakuchiol cream with a 0.5% retinol cream against signs of skin ageing.
Psst – these kinds of studies are extremely rare to find. For example, you won’t find the same open-access study comparing Granactive retinoid vs. retinol – although you can check out my opinion on this here.
So the fact this study exists and that it’s published in the British Journal of Dermatology (a prestigious journal) is big.
So what exactly did this 2019 shock bakuchiol vs. retinol study tell us?
Here comes the spoiler – but make sure you keep reading on because there’s one massive caveat to this (!)
Bakuchiol was found to be just as effective as retinol for reversing signs of skin ageing.
Yes, you read that right – bakuchiol – a natural retinol alternative was found just as effective as retinol.
Bakuchiol was found to;
- Significantly decrease wrinkle surface area (aka lessen fine lines and wrinkles)
- Significantly decrease hyperpigmentation (aka uneven skin tone/age spots/sun spots)
And results-wise – bakuchiol was just as good at it as retinol. Retinol did not outperform bakuchiol and bakuchiol did not outperform retinol. This is exciting stuff.
Is Bakuchiol Better Than Retinol?
So this 2019 shock study shows us bakuchiol is not better than retinol for anti-ageing effectiveness however it is just as good. But (!) there’s more.
Reasons why you may want to choose bakuchiol vs. retinol.
Because during the comparison of bakuchiol vs. retinol we also found out bakuchiol was much gentler to skin.
Retinol caused stinging. Bakuchiol did not.
Retinol caused some burning. Bakuchiol did not.
And at 4 and 8 weeks use retinol caused itching. Bakuchiol did not.
Retinol also caused significantly more skin scaling.
The bottom line; Bakuchiol is not better than retinol for anti-ageing results however bakuchiol is better vs. retinol for sensitive skin-friendly anti-ageing results.
And this is huge because if using your retinol cream feels like you’re a beekeeper in training, then you’re not going to be using it routinely eh 🙂
And this is the most important point. For retinol or bakuchiol or retinoid creams to be effective you need to be using them routinely.
Psst – here’s a super tit-bit I share with all of my SkinCoachees – in my scientific opinion, it’s much better to use a lower dose anti-ageing treatment regularly than use a potent dose of an anti-ageing treatment irregularly. The first feels like a spa massage and the second feels like a sports massage – which do you prefer? 😉
Can You Use Bakuchiol If You Have Super-Sensitive Skin?
This bit’s exciting because again there’s a published study telling us an answer I know will put you at complete ease.
This study was published in 2020 in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology and is called;
“Clinical Evaluation of a Nature-Based Bakuchiol Anti-Aging Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin”
Wahoo. See what I mean? This is exactly what we want to know eh.
The study in question tested a 1% bakuchiol cream – notice this is double the dose of the 2019 study we’ve been chatting about – in people with;
- Eczema/atopic dermatitis
- Cosmetic intolerance syndrome
And they found not only was the 1% bakuchiol cream very well tolerated it was also effective for helping reverse signs of skin ageing. Yes, yes, yes. Winning.
What Percentage of Bakuchiol is Effective?
This is the most important section of everything you’ve read so far because using an ineffective dose of bakuchiol is like making a cake with 16 eggs and a teaspoon of flour and cocoa powder. Your cake isn’t turning out the way you expect it too :). Concentration and the overall formula are everything.
So I’m going to refer us back to that 2019 study. What percentage of bakuchiol did they use to get results?
The ‘deets’ are here my friend;
- 0.5% bakuchiol
- In a cream format
- For 12 weeks
- Both morning and night
- Applied thinly
Now here’s a fact worth knowing. The company who are making bakuchiol recommends it’s used at a 0.5-1% concentration. Meaning most serums and creams you can buy use 0.5 to 1%. And remember – anything lower means anti-ageing results are not proven. That bit is super important.
Psst – get your free copy of my 5 Best Anti-Ageing Actives Cheatsheet to see which other anti-ageing actives you should be partnering bakuchiol with – click here to get it now.
Is Bakuchiol Really as Effective as Retinol?
I couldn’t write this blog without a little caveat here. Imagine you’re Googling for a new hairdresser. You want someone you really trust because you’re about to go into full Tyra Banks makeover mode. Completely changing your style. Completely your colour and getting a fringe for the first time ever.
These are big decisions. And the thing is, as you’ve just moved house, you now know zero hairdressers. And so you turn to Google.
Seriously – what did people do before Google eh?
Within seconds you find two hairdressers that are within walking distance from you. Yay.
One of these hairdressers – let’s call it Oooh Girl Who Did Your Hair salon 😉 has fifty 5-star reviews vs. the other on your list, The Mane Attraction which has two 5-star reviews.
Which are you going to?
The Mane Attraction could still be a fantastic choice – BUT – it’s less well-proven.
This my friend is the story of is bakuchiol better than retinol. Because bakuchiol is a new, natural active meaning there’s less proof it works.
This doesn’t mean bakuchiol doesn’t work, it just means it has fewer 5-start reviews 🙂 It’s important you know this.
Can Bakuchiol be Used Around Eyes?
You’ve got all the best questions my friend 🙂
As bakuchiol is ultra-sensitive to skin as proven by this 2020 study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, in my opinion, it’s safe to use around the eyes. However as with any new skincare product you’re using – please, please make sure to patch test it before use.
If you patch test, you don’t ever have to experience day one as a beekeeper in training 😉
Can You Use Bakuchiol Every Day?
Heck yes you can, In fact, that 2019 study which tells us 0.5% bakuchiol is just as effective as 0.5% retinol used bakuchiol every day, twice a day.
Which brings us so smoothly to a super benefit of bakuchiol vs. retinol. Bakuchiol is safe to use in the morning too (which isn’t the cause for retinol). This makes bakuchiol creams and serums easy to fit into your existing skincare routine. Wahoo.
There you have it my friend, the answer to is bakuchiol better than retinol.
Who wins the race for you? Come tell me in the comments below. Oh, and do you have a friend who loves natural skincare or is worried about using retinol? Press that big green sharing button below and forward her this blog with love from us both 🙂 You are awesomesauce.
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.