Bakuchiol - The Anti-Aging Superhero
● Bakuchiol comes from the Sanskrit name bakuchi
● Not a plant extract, but actually a single molecule, like retinol.
● Widely used, not widely studied
● Has similar benefits as retinol, but is naturally sourced.
Bakuchiol is the newest superhero active ingredient and has been causing a lot of buzz due to its reported effects. It shows the same effects as retinol, but is less drying to the skin – and scientists so far do not know why.
What is it?
Coming from the seeds of Psoralea corylifolia, which is endemic to certain Asian countries such
as Pakistan and China. P. corylifolia is included in ‘The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India’ and
finds use as a diuretic, laxative and aphrodisiac when the whole plant is used. The seeds –
called Babchi seeds – have significant medical properties in respect to the skin and are used to treat conditions such as psoriasis and leprosy!  It really IS a superhero!
First isolated in 1966 by Mehta. Et al., it was not until 2007 that bakuchiol began to show up in topical formulations. This is due to the presence of phototoxic compounds (chemically induced skin irritation requiring light) in the seed. Thus, bakuchiol is not a plant extract but rather a monomolecular extraction of the single bakuchiol molecule .
But does it work?
Cosmetic formulators swear by the ingredient, and the results really do speak for themselves. While researching this article I was looking at pictures on Instagram under #bakuchiol, the testimonials and before/after posts have me sold. So what does the science say? The most widely cited study on the effects of bakuchiol by S. Dhaliwal, I Rybak et al.  has its downfalls, mainly in the design of the study – no control and a small test size to name a few. Board certified dermatologist Ranella Hirsch MD, FAAD breaks down the study on her Instagram post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CE4JnFsnLK9/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link . Unfortunately, I could not get past the paywall on the two most widely cited papers, but the research is promising.
Burt’s Bees has been studying bakuchiol as well and has seen good results in their studies. Notable results were it induced the same gene expression as retinol, reduced inflammation, is well tolerated, and 1% bakuchiol cream used for 4 weeks significantly improves skin hydration while not interfering with barrier function .
To sum it up – I would use it. If you use bakuchiol and you are seeing results, then keep using it! What’s important is that we feel comfortable in our skin, and if this product makes you feel like your best self, then rock on!
By Jamie Stanton, A.Sc, @Jamie_the_Chemist