This Plant-Based Retinol Alternative Erases Wrinkles Without Irritation

Retinol pretty much reigns supreme as the go-to anti-aging ingredient, but it also has a bad reputation for causing irritation. Although things like redness and peeling are usually temporary, they’re still a pain to deal with — especially when you’re trying to soothe your skin, not make it angrier. It turns out, a plant-based alternative called bakuchiol provides the same wrinkle and fine line-smoothing effects without any harsh side effects.

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Unlike retinol, which is a form of vitamin A, bakuchiol is an antioxidant that comes from a plant native to China called babchi. Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, explained to Healthline, “It works through the same receptors that retinol uses, which is why many refer to it as a natural retinol alternative.” He added, “[Bakuchiol] has the advantage of not causing irritation.” 

Research from the British Journal of Dermatology backs his claim up. The study authors had 44 participants use either bakuchiol or retinol over a 12 week span. They found it just as effective at improving skin’s appearance, but described bakuchiol as “more tolerable.” 

Zeichner’s Mount Sinai colleague, Dr. Debra Jaliman, also told Healthline, “Studies have shown that bakuchiol helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles, and helps with pigmentation, elasticity, and firmness.” 

There are a ton of bakuchiol products to choose from, but a recent study looked at nine popular choices to see just how much of the ingredient they actually contain. A few that stood out include Arbonne’s Agewell Collagen Nurturing Serum with 2% Bakuchiol (Buy on Arbonne, $75), Medik8 Bakuchiol Peptides (Buy on Cult Beauty, $62.40), and the more budget-friendly Burt’s Bees Renewal Intensive Firming Face Serum (Buy on Amazon, $12.02). 

You can also try other natural wrinkle-erasing options like rosehip oil or rambutan extract. If you’re determined to stick with retinol, you might prefer a gentler option like the oil Jennifer Garner relies on for ageless skin. Whichever way you go, here’s hoping it results in a flawless, youthful face!

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