The benefits of adding retinol + bakuchiol to your skincare routine

retinol, bakuchiol

Do retinol or bakuchiol feature in your skincare routine? If not, why not? Fair enough, retinol in particular has a scary reputation…


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… but, when used correctly and consistently, both ingredients can be your skin’s new BFFs. Here’s what makes them different, how they work and how to safely incorporate them into your regimen.


Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A – an essential nutrient that occurs naturally in the human body. In the world of beauty, this ingredient, when applied topically, can go a long way in delaying signs of ageing and reducing breakouts. 

How does it work? It promotes skin cell turnover, making your body produce fresh, new skin more quickly. If your turnover is slower – something which occurs with age – it can make the skin appear dry and dull and fine lines more pronounced. This is also how it reduces acne, much of which is caused by the clogging of pores due to dead skin cells. 

While retinol is still considered the gold standard when it comes to delaying signs of ageing, it does come with side effects. It should not be used by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and it needs to be incorporated into your routine slowly (once a week and gradually increasing) to prevent irritation and sensitivity. You should also avoid layering it with other potent ingredients, such as vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide and AHA/BHAs. Proceed slowly and with caution and it will only be a matter of time until it becomes one of your must-haves!

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The plant-derived (and, therefore, vegan-friendly) alternative to retinol is known as bakuchiol. It has increased in popularity over the last few years as an effective replacement that comes with fewer side effects. It’s also safe for those who are pregnant to use. 

Just like retinoids, bakuchiol is prized for its ability to increase skin cell turnover, keeping your complexion clear and youthful. Because it’s more gentle, however, it can be used by – and provide benefit to – a wider range of people. The one downside, however, is that you might need to use more bakuchiol to get the same results as its counterpart. Ideally, it should be used twice a day as part of a morning and evening skincare routine. Like retinol, you should avoid using it at the same time as vitamin C and exfoliating acids. 

If you struggle with sensitive skin, bakuchiol might be a better option for you. Studies have shown it to be suitable for all skin types and is unlikely to cause irritation. It also doesn’t make your skin as photosensitive as retinol (but this doesn’t mean you get to skip your daily sunscreen application!). Be consistent with this ingredient and you can keep your skin youthful for longer. Yes, please!

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Helen Wallace

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