Bakuchiol vs Retinol — Which One Is Better For You? – StyleCaster

Anti-Aging Medicine
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It’s a tale as old as time—you tried to incorporate retinol into your routine, but your skin did not react well to it. Although retinol is touted by many as one of the best anti-aging ingredients, it can be quite tricky to get right. You might think you’re missing out on retinol’s benefits, but guess what? There’s an alternative that might just be the perfect fit for your skin. 

We spoke with double board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Brendan Camp of MDCS Dermatology, about bakuchiol versus retinol and which one might agree with your skin more. On top of providing all of the need-to-know info about the two ingredients, Dr. Camp also shares his top product picks for each one.

If you’re eager to make a decision between bakuchiol and retinol, keep reading for a breakdown of the ingredients and recommended products. 

What is bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is a vegan skincare ingredient found in the leaves and seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia plant, which is used in Indian and Chinese traditional medicine,” according to Dr. Camp. And what exactly does it do for the skin? It boasts “promising anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties,” per this study, which found a “reduction in photodamage, hyperpigmentation, wrinkle scores, and acne severity.” Similar to retinol, bakuchiol is a do-it-all skincare ingredient that belongs in your regular rotation. 

What is retinol?

To understand what bakuchiol does, it’s important to dive into retinol, as well. According to our derm expert, “Retinol is a milder form of tretinoin (a retinoid) and is available over-the-counter, where it is primarily marketed as an anti-aging product to help address wrinkles, dark spots, and collagen production.” With capabilities like that, no wonder derms, celebs and TikTokers swear by retinol products.

What are the potential side effects of bakuchiol?

Unlike retinol, bakuchiol does not get a bad rap for potential side effects. However, Dr. Camp mentions that it can’t hurt to do a spot test to see if bakuchiol leads to any irritation. He also notes that “It is recommended that patients wait to use bakuchiol while pregnant or breastfeeding until more data is published.”

What are the potential side effects of retinol?

Like I said before, retinol is tricky, and it might not always play well with your skin. You might even experience retinoid dermatitis, which “can occur from using too much of the product or using it too frequently, and presents with redness, dryness, itching, and flaking,” our expert adds. If any of these retinol side effects ring a bell, it might be time to switch over to using bakuchiol instead.

How often should you apply bakuchiol?

According to Dr. Camp, you can apply products with bakuchiol on a daily basis. 

How often should you apply retinol?

Retinols, however, are a whole different story. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to this ingredient. Our derm expert suggests starting your retinol journey by applying it once every third night for one month. You can progress to every other night for one month and then nightly if your skin can tolerate it. 

Which ingredients work best with bakuchiol?

Dr. Camp recommends using hydrating skincare formulas alongside bakuchiol. This includes ceramides and hyaluronic acid, among others. 

Which ingredients do not work well with bakuchiol?

“It has been reported that glycolic acid might degrade bakuchiol. Ingredients that can be potentially irritating, such as benzoyl peroxide, are best used alone,” our derm expert explains. 

Which ingredients work best with retinol? 

Reach for products with ingredients that offer moisture and strengthen your skin’s natural barrier. Just like with bakuchiol, ceramides and hyaluronic acid will do the trick. “It is important to use sun protection in the form of a daily SPF moisturizer when using retinol because it can cause sun sensitivity,” adds Dr. Camp.

Which ingredients do not work well with retinol?

Steer clear of benzoyl peroxide, alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids while using retinol, since these ingredients can further aggravate your skin. 

How do you know which ingredient to choose for your skin? 

Let’s make it clear, bakuchiol is certainly an effective (and vegan) retinol alternative, and both ingredients help tackle visible signs of aging. “If you have particularly sensitive skin or have skin prone to rosacea or eczema, it may be safer to start with bakuchiol,” says Dr. Camp. However, “If your skin is generally tolerant of new skincare ingredients, there is a lot of scientific evidence to support the use of retinol,” he adds.

Now that you’ve learned all there is to know about bakuchiol and retinol, it’s time for the fun part: shopping! Below, find 12 of Dr. Camp’s top picks that contain these powerful anti-aging ingredients.

Herbivore Botanicals Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum

If you’re concerned about dryness, uneven texture and fine lines, add this bakuchiol serum
to your cart. Dr. Camp highlights its unique jelly-like consistency, which you can apply in the AM and PM as a leave-on treatment. 

Paula’s Choice 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment

“This powerful serum combines retinol with bakuchiol to treat wrinkles and includes peptides to stimulate collagen production,” notes Dr. Camp. You truly do get the best of both worlds with this fast-absorbing formula, since it contains both retinol and bakuchiol.

Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Bakuchiol Sleeping Crème

Just like the rest of your body, your skin rests and recovers overnight. That’s why this night cream with bakuchiol deserves a spot in your evening skincare regimen. “This reparative nighttime cream with bakuchiol encourages collagen formation while repairing and hydrating the skin,” our derm expert explains. 

Omorovicza Miracle Facial Oil

Best for those with dry skin, this face oil boosts hydration, addresses visible signs of aging and provides antioxidant protection. 

According to Dr. Camp, “This product does double duty, providing mineral-based UV protection and the anti-aging benefits of bakuchiol.” Get yourself a skincare product that truly does the most! 

Beautycounter Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream

Minimize the look of fine lines and crow’s feet by swiping on this bakuchiol-packed eye cream

First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Serum

Dr. Camp recommends this face serum
for retinol beginners and those with sensitive skin, as it contains a low concentration of retinol (0.25 percent).

Kiehl’s Since 1851 Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum 

This retinol serum uses ceramides to offset the potentially drying effects of retinol.

La Roche-Posay Retinol Face Serum

“This product combines retinol with the calming effects of niacinamide and the hydrating effects of hyaluronic acid,” says Dr. Camp. 

PCA SKIN Retinol Treatment for Sensitive Skin

The name of this product says it all. The treatment
is gentle enough for those with sensitive skin, since niacinamide helps soothe your complexion. 

Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Treatment

“Coupled with peptides and vitamin C, this retinol solution encourages collagen production and protects skin from oxidative stress,” per our derm expert. 

SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream

Whether you’re new to using retinol or a seasoned vet, this SkinCeuticals night cream promotes cell turnover and is formulated to avoid irritation.

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