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9 best bakuchiol skincare products for a natural alternative to retinol

Get youth-boosting results with one of these gentle formulas

Sabine Wiesel
Tuesday 03 January 2023 15:34 GMT
<p>We judged them for all-round rejuvenating results on lines, wrinkles, blemishes, skin tone and texture</p>

We judged them for all-round rejuvenating results on lines, wrinkles, blemishes, skin tone and texture

Retinol may be hailed as the gold-standard in reducing the visible signs of ageing, but now there’s a new ingredient gunning for the crown.

Dubbed the “natural retinol”, plant-based bakuchiol (pronounced ba-coochy- ol) has been found in clinical studies to offer similar rejuvenating effects – helping boost cell turnover and stimulate collagen production. And without the skin irritation that is sometimes associated with retinol.

Bakuchiol derives from the seeds and leaves of the Indian Babchi plant (its official name is the Psoralea Corylifolia). It’s been used in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries and has been found to provide anti-oxidant skin protection from daily environmental and lifestyle stress.

It also has calming anti-inflammatory and healing antibacterial properties – making it a real find for all-matter of skin ageing concerns including lessened lines, wrinkles and pigmentation too.

Even those with sensitive skin, or those that haven’t got on with retinol in the past, will be able to enjoy the benefits of bakuchiol. It’s even safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding, unlike retinol. And it’s a vegan-ingredient, so great for those that follow a plant-based lifestyle.

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You can use it in the day or night, or both, as it doesn’t make your skin more sensitive to the sun like retinol does. You’ll find the ingredient in serums, oils, boosters and eye creams. Interestingly, “it’s safe to use alongside other actives too” says skincare expert Abigail James.

How we tested

To put these finds to the test, we rounded-up the latest bakuchiol skincare products . We judged them for all-round rejuvenating results on lines, wrinkles, blemishes, skin tone and texture, and found some really great skincare buys.

The best bakuchiol skincare products for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Biossance squalane and phyto-retinol serum: £55, Cultbeauty.co.uk
  • Best for quick results – Medik8 bakuchiol peptides: £49, Medik8.com
  • Best serum – Oskia super 16 advanced nutri-active collagen serum: £94, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best for CBD and bakuchiol hybrid – This Works my wrinkles CBD booster and bakuchiol: £28.80, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best for pigmentation and discolouration – Allies of Skin mandelic pigmentation corrector night serum: £47.50, Harrods.com
  • Best for a luxe feel – Olivanna London bakuchiol miracle night serum: £84, Olivanna.com
  • Best budget buy – Boots Ingredients bakuchiol serum: £7, Boots.com
  • Best for vegans – Philosophy nature in a jar skin reset serum: £40.85, Feelunique.com
  • Best oil – Omorovicza miracle facial oil: £85, Omorovicza.co.uk

Biossance squalane and phyto-retinol serum, 30ml

Biossance.jpg

Best: Overall

Combine the exceptional skin hydrating squalane with revitalising bakuchiol and you’ve got yourself a real youth-boosting skincare power-couple. And that’s not all in this who’s who of youth-boosting ingredients, as it also boasts niacinamide for its pore-shrinking, skin-barrier restoring and skin-tone improving abilities and the need-no-introduction moisture-boosting, hyaluronic acid.

After first use our skin instantly felt well hydrated, silky soft and supple. You’ll fall in love with the very light, green-floral scent and cream-like luxe texture. After two-weeks of continued use, pores looked refined, pigmentation brighter and lines less noticeable. A winning-formula.

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Medik8 bakuchiol peptides, 30ml

Medik 8 .jpg

Best: For quick results

Already big fans of the other impressive serums in the Medik8 skincare collection, we predicted this to be another excellent formula and it didn’t disappoint. It combines bakuchiol with skin-brightening peptides, and skin healing and calming Cica, which is also having a real beauty moment. The oily texture glides onto skin, soaking-in quickly leaving skin glowing.

We were most impressed with how silky-smooth this made our skin feel – even after just one use. Continued, twice-daily use saw redness and irritation reduced after just days. For brightening and diminished lines, you have to give this longer. A complete steal for the price tag.

  1. £49 from Medik8.com
Prices may vary
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Oskia super 16 advanced nutri-active collagen serum, 30ml

Oskia serum.jpg

Best: Serum

Named after the 16 natural actives in the formula, one is naturally bakuchiol. The others include powerhouse brightening vitamin C, loved for its antioxidant skin protecting abilities, as well as damage-reversing. It also boasts the healing mineral, MSM, for soothing inflammation and vitamin A, retinyl palmitate (a sister-like ingredient to retinol with very little irritation unless you have extremely sensitive skin).

Your skin will drink this serum up and love its nourishing benefits so much it’ll ooze a healthy complexion. Just days into using our pre-pandemic radiance was restored. A great investment for your skin.

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This Works my wrinkles CBD booster and bakuchiol, 30ml

Thisworks .jpg

Best: CBD and bakuchiol hybrid

This multi-use booster is a great way to incorporate bakuchiol into an existing skincare routine, as you can mix it with your favourite moisturiser, as well as use it on its own. Blending skin-therapeutic CBD and bakuchiol into this hybrid makes it a double buzz-worthy formula that feels instantly cooling and soothing when used neat – great for waking up a tired complexion.

But, it’s equally a real sleep-aid too, as it contains calmness-promoting lavender oil – a welcome addition to our night-time routine after a hectic day. Skin will instantly feel smoother and you won’t stop wanting to touch your face. After just a few days this perked-up a dull complexion, and reduced redness from irritation from another product brilliantly.

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Allies of Skin mandelic pigmentation corrector night serum, 30ml

Allies .jpg

Best: For pigmentation and discolouration

This will be your go-to serum if you’re concerned about pigmentation. Blending bakuchiol with a powerhouse of mandelic, lactic and salicylic acid, this blitzes discolouration and blemishes. While hyaluronic acid and niacinamide keep skin plump, and well hydrated.

After one use, our lacklustre skin looked brightened and felt baby soft. The real magic starts to happen after a week when sun-damage on both the forehead and cheeks looked less visible. It’s like a magic eraser in a bottle. We’re addicted.

  1. £47 from Harrods.com
Prices may vary
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Philosophy nature in a jar skin reset serum, 30ml

Philosophy .jpg

Best: For vegans

Just launched onto the virtual beauty shelves, this new lightweight, vegan serum combines the retinol-alternative with olive leaf extract. The latter is a skin-repairing antioxidant that’s great for calming irritation and facilitating healing. This makes it a great pick for stressed-out skin types, whether it’s “maskne” or from using too many actives on your skin.

We shook, stirred and applied the serum as instructed both morning and night. After just a few days we saw impressive results, with skin feeling super smooth and well nourished. For a firming effect and to see lines looking more plumped, give the product longer to see results.

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Olivanna London bakuchiol miracle night serum, 30ml

Olivanna .jpg

Best: For a luxe feel

This offering from the new luxe British skincare brand may be pricey, but it packs a skin-boosting punch when it comes to a natural formula. Bakuchiol joins the likes of superstar moisturiser hyaluronic acid, antioxidant rosehip and soothing evening primrose oil to make-up a beautifully light and creamy serum. This has such an impressive instant effect on the skin, you can almost feel it lifting and firming – leaving it super smooth with a real glow to it.

With continued use, we found it reduced the look of pigmentation too, making this a great option for sensitive skin types looking to brighten their dark spots. We can also recommend the lovely bakuchiol eye cream (£58, Olivanna.com) to go alongside it.

  1. £84 from Olivanna.com
Prices may vary
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Boots Ingredients bakuchiol serum, 30ml

Boots serum .jpg

Best: Budget buy

Following in the footsteps of popular ingredient-led budget skincare ranges like The Ordinary and The Inkey List, Boots has its very own back-to-basics skincare range with a bakuchiol serum in its product line up. If you’re looking to try the effects of the retinol-alternative without the commitment of a higher price tag, this no thrills formula is more than just a great place to start.

Our only negative is it has quite a watery consistency compared to the others we tested, but for the price, we’re not complaining. Expect a softer feel to skin, a smoother texture and a brighter look to your skin tone with continued use.

  1. £7 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Omorovicza miracle facial oil, 30ml

Omoroviczaa.jpg

Best: Oil

Hailing from Hungary, the well-known spa destination, Omorovicza’s legacy was built on the healing benefits of thermal waters. Using modern cosmetic advances, the brand can harness the minerals found in these waters and use them in their product range, so they penetrate the skin, including this beautiful face oil – one of the brand’s best-sellers.

We liked to mix ours in our morning moisturiser to get the bakuchiol benefits, and also on its own with a bed-time facial massage. Glowing results were found after just one use, as it made skin feel incredibly soft and plumped, but we found our complexion had a real luminosity to it a few weeks in. If your skin loves retinol, you should try the effects of retinol and bakuchiol together in the new midnight renewal serum (£140, Lookfantastic.com).

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Bakuchiol skincare FAQ’s

What is bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is a skin care ingredient mainly obtained from the seeds of the plant Psoralea corylifolia. While it has been widely used in Indian as well as in Chinese medicine to treat a variety of diseases, it has burst onto the skincare scene in recent years to treat everything from discolouration to fine lines.

Bakuchiol vs retinol: Which is better?

Bakuchiol is often dubbed the natural alternative to retinol. Both are said to boost collagen and elastin production in the skin, help with discolouration and hyperpigmentation, as well as reducing photoaging like fine lines and wrinkles. However, bakuchiol, although it is a hard-working active ingredient, doesn’t present the sun exposure risk that retinol does.

Can you use bakuchiol every day?

Due to it being a little kinder on the skin, it is safe to use bakuchiol once or even twice a day after cleansing.

The verdict: Bakuchiol skincare

Biossance squalane + phyto-retinol serum is our best buy as it’s a vegan, natural, super gentle welcome addition to any skincare routine with its skin-loving ingredients, as well as the retinol-alternative bakuchiol. For those serious about brightening their pigmentation the Allies of Skin mandelic pigmentation corrector night serum is an investment you won’t be disappointed in.

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For the latest offers on skincare and other beauty buys, try the links below:

Looking for something without a little more oomph? we’ve found the best retinols for age-defying skin

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