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What the F*ck is Bakuchiol? How to Add this Plant-Based Ingredient to Your Beauty Routine

by Jamie Schneider

Although temperatures are finally climbing past twenty (spring has finally sprung, y’all), my skin still seems to be stuck in winter mode. Even without the vigorous winds whipping my face every morning, my skin has remained a little dry, dull, and uneven. I was told to try retinol products to combat my dead skin cell build-up, but I was always nervous about the irritation and dryness I’d have to power through in order to reach that desired luminosity. I came across Ole Henriksen’s Transformation Plus Power Serum and Sleeping Créme (truly by a work of fate), both of which contain a magical, plant-based ingredient called bakuchiol. Despite being a little apprehensive about a supposedly all-natural substance I could barely pronounce, I decided to give it a go. And it seriously delivered.

If you’re like me, and you’re wondering what this ingredient is and where it comes from, bakuchiol is an antioxidant that’s extracted from the seeds and leaves of the babchi plant, which is grown in India. While it’s marketed as a relatively new alternative for retinol, bakuchiol has its roots in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Think of it as the plant-based cousin of retinol— it fosters similar results to retinoid treatments with a gentler, completely vegan process. Both retinol and bakuchiol have skin brightening properties and can increase the skin’s firmness and elasticity, but retinol can cause redness and irritation of the skin, while bakuchiol has zero harsh side effects. While retinol can make your skin sun sensitive, bakuchiol can be worn throughout the day and is even safe to use while you’re pregnant.

“Where can I buy this extraordinary substance,” you ask? Many beauty brands with a focus on natural, organic ingredients have hopped on the bakuchiol bandwagon. There’s the previously mentioned Ole Henriksen Transformation Plus Power Serum and Sleeping Créme (each contain a magnificent purple mixture that mirrors the exact shade of the babchi flower), Boscia’s Matcha Magic Super-Antioxidant Mask (another plus: it’s super hydrating), Omorovicza’s Miracle Facial Oil… the bakuchiol-infused list goes on. Because bakuchiol works super well for all skin types, it makes sense why these brands have recognized bakuchiol’s many underrated benefits and have paired it with other natural ingredients, like a soothing lavender or olive oil. It’s only a matter of time as these brands rave about the ingredient’s youth-boosting, skin brightening properties before bakuchiol becomes the beauty market’s newest cult-favorite item.

Long story short, this vegan alternative to retinol is taking the skincare industry by storm. So, if you’re struggling with cystic acne, hyperpigmentation, or maybe you just want to increase your skin’s collagen levels without using any harsh retinoid treatments (who doesn’t!?), check out these tips on how to incorporate bakuchiol into your beauty routine. Smooth, glowy skin is in your future this spring.

How to Use Bakuchiol

So, you’ve found the perfect bakuchiol-infused product to add to your beauty repertoire. Whether it’s in the form of a mask, serum, or facial oil, these are the tips you need to know:

Serums: Because serums contain a high concentration of active ingredients, using a bakuchiol-infused product will ensure that the ingredient’s many benefits are seeping directly into the skin. If you have a specific skincare concern, like dark spots or wrinkles, a bakuchiol-infused serum is great to powerfully target problem areas with a light, layerable formula.

To Use: Apply 1-3 drops of serum after cleansing the face before applying moisturizer (or mix a couple of drops into your favorite moisturizer before applying). Wake up to glowy skin the next morning. Rinse and repeat on a nightly basis.

Masks: It’s no secret that a good exfoliating mask helps remove dead skin cells and increases cell turnover, and a mask containing bakuchiol allows this process to become even more effective. While some exfoliating masks contain retinol for more powerful exfoliation, a bakuchiol-infused mask yields the same results with a gentler formula for sensitive skin.

To Use: Apply an even layer of the mixture on a clean face and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes (or until advised on the packaging). Rinse with warm water and notice instantly firm hydrated skin. Follow with moisturizer.

Oils: Facial oils and serums might seem similar to the average eye, but the best beauty pros advise applying oil after using a moisturizer to give your skin that extra level of radiance. A bakuchiol-infused facial oil, like this one from Omorovicza, incorporates all of the hydrating antioxidants of standard oil, while the bakuchiol component gives your skin a boost of collagen. Call it killing two birds with one stone, if you will.

To Use: Rub 3-5 drops in between the palms before gently patting over the face and neck, and follow with sunscreen.

The result? No matter how you incorporate bakuchiol into your beauty routine, be prepared for a fresh face ready to shed dry, wintry skin. Fine lines, dark spots, and inflammation begone.

Feature Image via Vanessa Granda

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