You may not know how to say it, but bakuchiol is the hottest thing in skincare.
Pronounced ba-koo-chee-ol, this hard-working ingredient tackles the biggest beauty bugbears including wrinkles, brown spots, breakouts and inflammation.
Made from the seeds of the Indian babchi plant, it has been used to treat skin diseases for centuries — and now it’s hit cosmetics counters as a natural alternative to retinol.
‘While there’s no denying retinol is a gold-standard anti-ageing ingredient, bakuchiol is an exciting alternative,’ says Rebecca Hopkins, the co-founder of Balance Me.
‘It’s a clinically proven, plant-based substitute and can offer the same skin-smoothing benefits and efficacy as retinol without the skin sensitivity side-effects.’
Victoria Woodhall gives her verdict on a selection of products available in the UK containing bakuchiol. Pictured: Medik8 Bakuchiol Peptides
While doctors don’t typically endorse natural ingredients, there’s clear science behind bakuchiol. ‘It is very well-tolerated,’ says dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting, who uses bakuchiol in her Dr Sam’s Flawless Nightly Serum as well as her Flawless Body Therapy.
‘In a study in the British Journal of Dermatology, bakuchiol used twice daily at 0.5 per cent was found to be less irritating than retinol 0.5 per cent used at night (and just as effective), which is good news for those with sensitive skin,’ she says.
And it’s a serious contender for those with perimenopausal skin, which can swing between dry, sensitive and spotty. It not only tackles these issues, but also gives that anti-ageing action against wrinkles and sun damage that we want at this life stage.
If that weren’t enough, it is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it can help undo the ageing effects of stress and environmental damage while future-proofing skin against further harm.
So, where can you find this wonder worker? We tested seven serums and creams…
Medik8 Bakuchiol Peptides, £45, lookfantastic.com
WHAT IS IT? A light- weight oil serum for anyone who can’t tolerate retinol.
HOW IT WORKS: With 1.25 per cent bakuchiol, this packs a wrinkle-smoothing punch. I liked that it has peptides which tackle pigmentation, too. It’s scent-free and has buckets of calming ingredients such as aloe vera and centella asiatica.8/10
Dr Sam’s Flawless Body Therapy, £29, drsambunting.com
Victoria said her dry skin lapped up Dr Sam’s Flawless Body Therapy (pictured)
WHAT IS IT? A radiance-boosting all-over anti-ageing serum. Because it’s so well tolerated, you can apply bakuchiol liberally in a body product. Lactic acid helps smooth rough patches, too.
HOW IT WORKS: My dry skin lapped up this rich fragrance-free cream. It absorbs quickly and my bumpy arms felt smoother. I’m conscious of sun damage on my legs and am glad to have found a cream to tackle that.9/10
SOOTHE ’N’ SMOOTH
Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Creme, £42, boots.com
Victoria admits she isn’t convinced Ole Henriksen Wrinkle Blur Bakuchiol Eye Gel Creme (pictured) corrected her dark circles as claimed
WHAT IS IT? A lavender-coloured cream with ‘ribbons’ of bakuchiol that mix with blurring peptides and orchid stem cells as you pump.
HOW IT WORKS: I’m all for bakuchiol around the eyes, as the fine skin shows signs of ageing first. The gel is light, although I’m not convinced the purple tint corrected my dark circles as claimed. A subtle lemon smell makes this a joy to use.6/10
Keys Soulcare Skin Transformation Cream, £30, cult beauty.co.uk
Victoria said Keys Soulcare Skin Transformation Cream (pictured) has proven glow-getting ingredients and sinks in beautifully
WHAT IS IT? U.S. singer Alicia Keys’s new beauty range marries mindfulness and moisturisers.
This calming face cream also contains malachite, a healing crystal used by the ancient Egyptians to soothe the spirit as well as the skin.
HOW IT WORKS: Woo-woo rituals aside, this cream has proven glow-getting ingredients such as hydrating hyaluronic acid and moisture-locking ceramides, thanks to the top dermatologist who formulated it. It sinks in beautifully, too. 7/10
Trilogy Bakuchiol+ Booster Treatment, £29.50, trilogy products.co.uk
Victoria said Trilogy Bakuchiol+ Booster Treatment (pictured) could be slotted into her existing creams as a booster
WHAT IS IT? One of the most potent in our selection, this contains four per cent bakuchiol. Apply a couple of drops directly to your skin or mixed in with your serum or body lotion.
HOW IT WORKS: I got only around two weeks of daily use with this small but mighty oil, but liked the fact that bakuchiol doesn’t clash with any other skincare, so this could be slotted into my existing creams as a booster. It has a mild aromatherapy smell, too.6/10
Balance Me Bakuchiol Smoothing Serum, £32, balanceme.com
Victoria said Balance Me Bakuchiol Smoothing Serum (pictured) smells divine and is the perfect combination of oil, moisture and effective anti-ageing
WHAT IS IT? With a respectable one per cent bakuchiol, this wrinkle- smoothing serum contains terminalia chebula fruit to guard against skin-damaging blue light from screens.
It is also packed with antioxidant cacay oil; rosehip and buriti oils, which are both rich in vitamin A; and hyaluronic acid.
HOW IT WORKS: This has been a favourite of mine since it launched last summer.
It smells divine and feels so smooth you want to keep using it day and night. It’s the perfect combination of oil, moisture and effective anti-ageing — and it’s sustainable, too. Feel-good and good value.9/10
This Works My Wrinkles CBD Booster + Bakuchiol, £38, spacenk.com
Victoria said This Works My Wrinkles CBD Booster + Bakuchiol (pictured) is for those who like This Works’s award-winning pillow spray
WHAT IS IT? This Works is all about calming your skin and your mind, and this combination of anti-inflammatory CBD (cannabidiol) and four per cent bakuchiol is perfect for older skin that’s in need of soothing and wrinkle-smoothing.
HOW IT WORKS: If you like This Works’s award-winning pillow spray, you will absolutely love the hint of soothing lavender in this watery booster.
I put it neat on my decolletage, where I have hefty damage in need of brightening, and where it released its subtle, pleasing scent. 8/10