I try not to burden you with unpronounceable beauty jargon but – just when you’d finally twisted your tongue around hyaluronic andretinyl palmitate – I invite you to wrestle with: bakuchiol. This naturally derived, sustainable ingredient shows much promise in a world overrun with nonsense claims.
Early but credible clinical trials suggest that bakuchiol, while wholly different from proven skin anti-ager retinol in terms of composition, behaves similarly: reducing wrinkles, improving firmness, evening out skin texture and tone – only without any of retinol’s drawbacks. Unlike retinol, bakuchiol is photostable, meaning it can be worn day and night instead of only the latter. It doesn’t cause increased sensitivity or redness, or the telltale peeling of early retinol use. It needn’t be packaged as carefully. It’s thought to be safe in pregnancy. Rosacea and eczema sufferers who mightn’t touch retinol with a bargepole can also get in on the act – even at high concentrations (you want at least 0.5% bakuchiol).
This win/win, suitable-for-all effect has seen a flurry of new bakuchiol products appear this year. Among my favourites is Biossance’s Phyto-Retinol Serum (£61, 30ml), which, like all Biossance products, is blended with slinky, ethically and sustainably sourced sugarcane-derived squalane. Creamy, moisturising and utterly divine, it’s certainly pricey and may feel too rich on those naturally blessed by sebum – at least in the daytime.
Lighter in texture is Balance Me’s Bakuchiol Smoothing Serum (£32, 30ml), a milky, natural-smelling serum for post-cleansing application. Drier types could follow with REN’s glorious Bio Retinoid Anti-Ageing Cream (£45, 50ml). (Bakuchiol remains stable in most formulations: serum, oil, lotion or cream.)
Revolution Skincare, who, from my perspective, put barely a foot wrong, have the best bakuchiol for oilier types. The 1% Bakuchiol Serum (£9.99, 30ml) is light, silky and quickly absorbed, while their optional topcoat, Toning Boost Bakuchiol Moisture Cream (£10, 50ml), is richer and creamier but still ungreasy. Its weird colour (lavender blue) vanishes quickly, leaving a smooth, stable, expensive-feeling base for makeup.
The best news for retinol lovers is that you don’t even have to choose between them. Effective alone, bakuchiol has also been shown to improve the effects of retinol when they’re used together (layer up or use a serum that combines the two: Paula’s Choice does a great one). Everything above is cruelty-free. So, repeat after me, and get used to saying it: buh-KOO-chee-oll.
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