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Is Bakuchiol the Plant-Based Alternative to Retinol Your Skin Needs?

We've got the derm-approved lowdown on the new kid on the skincare-block that everyone is talking about.

Unless you have been living under a rock, we can bet that you have heard of retinol being one of the most touted skincare products around, kind of like the golden child of beauty. It can smoothen out fine lines, wrinkles, treat acne, and even fade dark spots. Retinol, however, can be pretty harsh on the skin and can lead to dryness, irritation, flakiness, and redness, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin.


Enter bakuchiol, a plant-derived ingredient that has quite a buzz going on ATM. Pronounced “buh-koo-chee-all”, it comes from the babchi plant and has been touted to have fabulous antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-aging properties, minus the irritation and redness that can occur due to retinol. To get to the bottom of things, we spoke to some of the leading derms in the country and got the complete lowdown on everything we need to know about bakuchiol.

So, what exactly is bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is phytochemical derived from seeds and leaves of babchi plant (Psoralea corylifolia). This plant is used in Indian Ayurveda and Chinese medicine from ages. According to Dr Jaishree Sharad of Skinfiniti, “Bakuchiol has the properties of being a powerful antioxidant and broad-spectrum antimicrobial, which helps regulate sebum overproduction, reducing inflammation, redness and hyperpigmentation. As a plus, it causes a boost in the collagen and elastin production of the skin, causing the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles and acting as an effective anti-aging ingredient.” One of the coolest things about this new wonder-ingredient is that it has its roots right here, in India!

“The western world is speaking about Bakuchiol now,” says Dr Rashmi Shetty, adding, “But it’s been mentioned in Indian ayurvedic skincare since the 60s and the 70s, for various purposes including bringing youthfulness to the skin. Its gotten more credibility now because the western world is extracting it from various Chinese, African and Indian plants.”


“Bakuchiol has been used in villages for years as a natural remedy for vitiligo, psoriasis and a host of ill-defined skin conditions,” adds Dr Kiran Sethi of Isya Aesthetics. The Babchi plant is anti-inflammatory, anti-wormicidal, and even antibacterial! Way to go, right?

Why is bakuchiol preferable to retinol?

Retinol (Derivative of vitamin A) is a strong anti-ageing ingredient, but it can irritate and cause redness to the skin. Bakuchiol is a natural alternative to Retinol. According to Dr Geetika Mittal of Isaac Luxe, “Bakuchiol mimics retinol in its healing properties such as skin-rejuvenation, stimulates collagen and elastin production and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It has some add-on benefits such as soothing irritation and subsiding redness. But, studies also suggest that even though bakuchiol is a good ingredient, retinol has better anti-ageing properties.” So, for people whose skin does not do well with retinol i.e. those having sensitive skin or rosacea (a skin condition that causes redness or visible blood vessels) bakuchiol seems like the perfect alternative solution.

“Retinol has been shown to cause excessive dryness and some irritation particularly to Indian skin, which is more sensitive,” explains Dr Sethi, “By basically creating collagen in the skin, it makes it look younger. It’s further shown to be an anti-inflammatory, so all in all, it seems like a hole in one!”

Who should be using bakuchiol, and how and when should they do so?

“It’s a smooth, easy product that can be used on anyone, anytime,” says Dr Shetty. “Any age group, ranging from those in their teens to those of fifty years of age, can use bakuchiol. Being highly versatile, it can be used across people and skin types (since it doesn’t irritate like retinol).”  Dr Jaishree Sharad enumerates how you can use bakuchiol:

  • It can be used twice a day- morning and night, on the face. 
  • It can be used either as a serum or lotion. 
  • After cleansing the face, apply the product and then top it up with a moisturiser and sunscreen in the morning, and any other serum you're applying at night. 

“I suggest adding other antiaging actives like AHA's, and peptides as well that have more data than bakuchiol so you definitely get good results, adds Dr. Sethi “Do not mix with any copper or metallic ion though - the color will change! “

What are the benefits of using bakuchiol?

  • It helps boost the collagen production of the skin.
  • As it does not give rise to photosensitive skin, it can be used in the morning as well. 
  • It can help treat acne. When used in combination with salicylic acid, bakuchiol has also been shown to reduce those zits! 
  • It can help treat signs of ageing on the neck and fine lines on your decolletage.
  • It has been shown to reduce signs of ageing such as wrinkles and enlarged pores.
  • It reduces inflammation and improves the suppleness of the skin.
  • It regenerates, lifts and tightens the skin.
  • It can also be used during pregnancy unlike retinoids.

4 Derm-recommended bakuchiol products to try RN


Herbivore bakuchiol serum (also contains retinol) - Dr Geetika Mittal.


 Isdinceutics Flavo-C Melatonin night recovery serum- Dr Jaishree Sharad.



Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum  Dr Jaishree Sharad.


 BYBI Bakuchiol Booster - add into your cream!  Dr Kiran Sethi.