By now, you've probably heard about retinol as a must-have ingredient in your skincare routine. That’s because it's been shown to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes, even out skin-tone, lighten scars, and brighten your complexion.
However, even with its touted benefits, many people equate retinol with harsh skin irritation and adverse side effects—such as redness, burning or itching, dryness, flaking or peeling skin, and increased sensitivity in the sun.
That's why many consumers are opting for retinol’s gentler, plant-based alternative, bakuchiol, which offers the same benefits as retinol, minus the irritation. Skincare industry leaders are jumping on this naturally derived, vegan extract as their new, go-to skin-renewing ingredient to replace retinol.
Bakuchiol: A Non-Irritating Retinol Alternative
Bakuchiol (derived from the bachi plant native to India & South Asia) is a clean, non-irritating extract that works through the same receptors that retinoids use.
Studies show that bakuchiol is just as powerful as retinol in significantly decreasing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and discoloration, which is why it's giving retinol a run for its money. Bakuchiol users also report less skin peeling and stinging than those who use retinol.
Therefore, we recommend finding a high-quality bakuchiol moisturizer to experience retinol's benefits without the side effects.
A Quality Bakuchiol Moisturizer Can:
- Reduce the appearance of wrinkles & fine lines
- Help fade dark spots & soften rough patches of skin
- Support a brighter, even skin tone
- Aid in minimizing breakouts & regulating oily skin
- Hydrate skin by promoting collagen production & cell renewal
But, with so many bakuchiol moisturizers on the market, how do you know which are safe and effective? We wanted to sort through the clutter and show you what to look for in a quality bakuchiol product that delivers results.
The Advantages of Bakuchiol
Structurally, bakuchiol doesn’t resemble retinoids at all, but the results are incredibly similar. Plant-based bakuchiol has been shown to visibly firm skin and increase the appearance of bounce and elasticity, reduce the look of sunspots and wrinkles, improve skin texture and hydrate dull, dry skin—all without irritating the skin.
Best of all, bakuchiol isn’t affected by the sun like retinoids. When used in direct sunlight, retinol can be rendered inactive and increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun, while bakuchiol can actually act as an antioxidant—making it safe to use both morning and evening. And, while bakuchiol is generally considered safe to use while pregnant, dermatologists advise women to steer clear of retinoids both during pregnancy and while nursing.
It's no wonder bakuchiol is growing in popularity—especially when it's combined with other skin-enhancing ingredients in a quality moisturizer.
Top Ingredients in a Bakuchiol Moisturizer
BakuchiolA powerful, plant-based retinol alternative that’s perfect for all skin types and minimizes the look of wrinkles, fine lines, and uneven skin tone without the irritation.
SqualaneA skin moisturizer that visibly balances oil production, while locking in enough hydration to keep the skin looking clear, calm, and healthy.
Hyaluronic AcidOften listed as Sodium Hyaluronate, Hyaluronic Acid is a powerful ingredient that deeply moisturizes and smooths the look of wrinkles around your eyes.
Polyglutamic AcidAn intensely hydrating acid that can hold up to 10,000 times its weight in moisture and works synergistically with hyaluronic acid to visibly smooth and plump skin.
Activated Vitamin CActivated Vitamin C is a specialized form that is 50x more powerful than traditional Vitamin C, penetrating deeper into the skin with greater potency and more visible results.
Hydrating OilsGive skin a youthful glow with plant-based oils like Jojoba, Macadamia, and Olive which closely mimic your skin’s natural lipid barrier.
Additives to Avoid
Synthetic Dyes or FragrancesMay cause skin irritation, clog pores, cause blemishes, and even deplete your skin of its essential nutrients and oils.
ParabensSynthetic preservatives that can affect hormone levels
Heavy Mineral OilsMay cause breakouts by preventing the skin from absorbing vital nutrients. While this oil does have moisturizing properties, it causes more harm than good over time.
PetroleumAlso clogs pores and can't be metabolized
What To Look For
In addition to the ingredients above, there are some other factors worth considering when purchasing an effective bakuchiol moisturizer:
Properly hydrated skin is key to a clear, even tone. Studies suggest that hydration helps maintain the skin’s barrier and promote regular melanin production. To get the most comprehensive results, look for a bakuchiol cream that doesn’t just help smooth your complexion, but moisturizes skin, too.3
Transparent List Of Ingredients
Many popular moisturizers on the market fail to list all of their ingredients on their labels. This means that you might be using a product with potentially harmful or unwanted chemicals. Look for a brand that isn’t afraid to list all of its active ingredients clearly on both its product label and its website.
Americans spend millions of dollars every year for youthful skin, and they still find themselves unhappy with an apparent lack of results. It’s better—and safer—to invest in a product that offers a 100% money-back, no-questions-asked guarantee to show the company's faith in the potency of its product.
What To Avoid
Forget the Research
Contrary to popular belief, not all moisturizers are the same. Brands use different formulas, so check that they contain the ingredients listed above.
Prioritize Price Over Quality
We found that some brands tended to fall short on potency. Focus on quality ingredients to avoid compromising on your health.
The 5 Best Bakuchiol Moisturizers On The Market
Based on our own extensive research, the metrics provided by our Smarter Reviews Ranking System, and consideration of numerous reviews by Smarter Shoppers just like you, we've compiled a list of what we've found to be the top five products to help promote the appearance of flawless, smooth, even-toned skin.