Is Bakuchiol the new Retinol?

Recently the beauty industry has been buzzing about bakuchiol. Glamour Magazine published an article alleging that is may be the new superstar on the market that is going to replace it’s infamously more irritating counterpart retinol. As the noise grows louder on these “new” superstars, my patients and friends start sending me DMs and emails, so now it is time for me to do some investigating.

So what is my take as a skin expert? More data is definitely needed before you go throwing away your retinol. Most studies that have been done are fluffy and lack substance with the exception of one study. This study that was published in the British Journal of Dermatology, but it had it’s flaws and ultimately didn’t convince me to make the switch from retinols to bakuchiol.

The study compared retinol to bakuchiol in a prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment which is the gold standard type of study. Unfortunately the study was flawed in the following ways:

1. Compared retinol instead of the more active and commonly given by MDs retinoid 

2. Did not take tissue samples from patients. We need to see what's happening under the microscope (is there more collagen?)

3. Participants in the study had to use bakuchiol 2 times per day versus 1 time a day for retinol 

While bakuchiol has sparked my interest, I need to know more before recommending it to my patients. Hopefully further studies will be done that take skin samples from patients that are checked under the microscope for less subjective measures like collagen and elastin content as well as skin messengers like cytokine levels. I would also hope that more standardized application protocols would be created and that bakuchiol would be put head to head with retinoids, the more active variant of vitamin-a derivatives recommended by most dermatologists.