Can’t decide between Bakuchiol or Retinol?

Should I use Bakuchiol or Retinol? Which one is safer? Which one is more effective? Let's see what science has to say about it.


Retinol has been praised a lot in the beauty world. It is a vitamin A derivative, a retinoid, and like all forms of vitamin A, it aids in cell turnover, increases the amount of collagen in your skin, and makes the skin more resistant to the appearance of new wrinkles. It is commonly found in anti-aging products, acne treatments, and sunscreens, and is available in over-the-counter as well as prescription products. Possible side effects of retinol include skin irritation, photosensitivity, telangiectasia, teratogenicity, and embryotoxicity. Is there a natural substitute for it?

In Feb 2022, the International Journal of Cosmetic Science published a study comparing the effect of Bakuchiol vs Retinol. This research consisted of both in vitro (“test tube” experiments) and in vivo (human experiments) studies.

In Vitro:

Bakuchiol and Retinol was applied in cell culture of human dermal fibroblasts and their antioxidant capacity, anti-inflammatory effects, Fibroblast growth factor protein level, collagen type I and VII, and wound healing power was measured. 

In Vivo:

Study I: Two formulations of 0.5% bakuchiol or 0.15% retinol were applied on two test areas on the inner forearm of 31 subjects (30–64 years). After 4 weeks of twice-daily application subjects returned to the test center and were tested for the same categories as in the in vitro study. 

Study II: 34 subjects (39-66 years) applied 0.5% bakuchiol cream on one side of their face for 12 weeks and then performed a self grading, visually assessing the overall appearance of their facial skin for freshness, radiance as well as sign of skin ageing.


  • Bakuchiol showed significantly elevated anti-oxidative capacity as opposed to retinol with no significant anti-oxidative capacity.
  • Both bakuchiol and retinol showed significant anti-inflammatory effects. However, the effect of retinol was less pronounced than by bakuchiol.
  • Bakuchiol demonstrated a significant increase in growth factor protein level, whereas retinol showed no significant effect.
  • Bakuchiol and retinol both showed significant increase in Collagen protein level.
  • Bakuchiol but not retinol showed significant increase in wound healing and epidermis regeneration.

The in vivo studies supported the findings in the in vitro study. It also showed that Bakuchiol was well tolerated in subjects with sensitive skin as opposed to retinol that caused skin irritation in several subjects. We are all aware of how retinol can induce various skin issues including erythema, itching, desquamation or papules. Retinoids are associated with photosensitization of the skin. It also degrades greatly to inactive substances by exposure to air or light. Bakuchiol, on the other hand, is photo-stable and can be applied during day time with no irritation. 

Ok, enough said. I will leave it to you to make your own decision which one to choose for your skin routine. If you decide to opt for bakuchiol, which is 100% plant based concentrated active ingredient derived from Psoralea corylifolia (babchi seeds), check out Amorous hand and body moisturizer and Reine, a complex facial oil serum, Elevate firming facial cream that contains Bakuchiol along with other bio-actives that are safe for your skin.

Source: Multidirectional activity of bakuchiol against cellular mechanisms of facial ageing – Experimental evidence for a holistic treatment approach, Anika Bluemke | Annika P. Ring | Jeannine Immeyer | Anke Hoff | Tanya Eisenberg | Wolfram Gerwat | Franziska Meyer | Sabrina Breitkreutz | Lina M. Klinger | Johanna M. Brandner | Grit Sandig | Marietta Seifert | Doerte Segger | Frank Rippke | Dorothea Schweiger


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