Bakuchiol is extracted from an Indian plant named Batch (Psoralea corylifolia). The Batch plant is used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine. Bakuchiol is a phenolic compound from the terpenoids family. Several reports indicate that Bakuchiol could be protective for the liver, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant. In terms of skincare, a handful of studies show that bakuchiol has a retinol like effect and anti-acne properties. The anti-acne properties are not well studied and it has been shown than bakuchiol with Ginkgo Biloba extract, mannitol improves the efficacy of adapalene treatment.
Bakuchiol and anti-aging
There are two studies that have established the anti-aging properties of bakuchiol.
First study Chaudhuri et al. 2014
In this study, the authors have used a model of human skin epidermis (EpiDerm FT) that were incubated with retinol or bakuchiol for two days. After incubation, the gene expression in the two batches was analyzed using a technics named transcriptome (or DNA microarray). This technic allows us to analyze up to 30 000 genes and compare it between different samples.
A gene is a piece of DNA with a « recipe » to make a protein like the keratin in your skin. When a cell needs to fabricate a protein the gene is copied into an RNA that is used to make the protein. In biology, we can analyze the copy of the gene (RNA) or the final product of the protein.
The authors show that in this in vitro model collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, and retinoic acid receptors genes are induced.
However, the validation of the results is not optimal. Among researchers, it is known that the genes that show up in a transcriptome have to be validated by another technic (by PCR). They did not do it but instead validated the presence of the protein by a technique named histochemistry in the same in vitro model (EpiDerm FT). The histochemistry is not properly done (weak signal), still, collagen is detected with bakuchiol.
They also performed a clinical test with a cream with 0.5% bakuchiol on 16 subjects applied twice daily for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks they observe an improvement of wrinkle (20%), roughness (21%) and an improvement of the overall complexion.
Second study Dhaliwal et al. 2018
This study was done on 50 patients (age around 47) for 12 weeks. Patients were instructed to use a cream with either 0.5% retinol or 0.5% bakuchiol all over the face. One application for the retinol, 2 for the Bakuchiol.
After 12 weeks they observe a reduction of around 20% in fine lines, a reduction of the intensity and the surface area of hyperpigmentation around 13% with bakuchiol and 20% with retinol. Most importantly Bakuchiol has less side effects compare to retinol in terms of scaling.
Others interesting articles
One recent article (Goldberg et al. 2019) funded by ISDIN (the skincare brand) showed an improvement in the depth of wrinkles (11%), skin quality and complexion with their serum. This serum contains bakuchiol, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (a derivative of vitamin C), and melatonin. All concentrations are unknown. This serum was applied for 28 to 84 days once a day on 103 subjects. This serum seems to be ISDINCEUTICS MELATONIK. It is interesting, but not conclusive because it has a derivative of vitamin C and melatonin. Still the effects are similar to the other in vivo studies. We cannot exclude that the ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate and the melanin did not improve the wrinkles…
A second study (Herndon Jr. MD et al. 2016) uses a dual treatment with encapsulated retinol at 0.5%, bakuchiol and Ophiopogon japonicus root along with a moisturizer that contains 30% of the palmitate form of vitamin C. This study was conducted on 44 women for 12 weeks. The retinol and bakuchiol based serum was applied in the evening and the moisturizer in the morning. After 12 weeks they observe a reduction of fine lines and hyperpigmentation as well as an improvement of the skin tone and texture.
I have no doubt that bakuchiol has promising anti-aging properties to improve the skin surface, smooth wrinkles and decrease hyperpigmentation. However, there is no data about the in vivo induction of collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid in our dermis, and no data about the skin cell proliferation and the thickening of the epidermis. This ingredient is still promising and is less irritated than retinol and offers similar visible results. Until now there is one report of contact dermatitis aka a skin allergy to it. If you want to try it I recommend the Flawless nightly serum.
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Thank you for your time.
-DOI 10.1111/bjd.16918 or https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bjd.16918
-PMID: 27050703 open source