The Anti-Aging Alternative to Retinol That’s Plant-Based

Scientists may have found a plant-based replacement for retinol.

 For years, retinol has been the beauty industry’s gold standard ingredient in anti-aging skincare products. A form of synthetic vitamin A, it has the ability to accelerate skin renewal, boost collagen, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles for firmer, smoother skin. While retinols have shown to be powerful enough to improve a range of issues from uneven texture to pigmentation, common side effects include dryness, irritation, and increased sensitivity to sunlight.

Recently, scientists have discovered a less irritating alternative in bakuchiol, a plant extract derived from the leaves and seeds of the babchi plant—an herb commonly used in Indian Ayurveda and Chinese medicine to heal, calm, and soothe the skin. Thanks to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties, bakuchiol functions similarly to retinol without the harsh side effects.

“While bakuchiol has been around forever, it’s only been within the past few years that scientists have discovered that it works like retinol but without the dryness, irritation, and sun sensitivity that many people experience,” says Michelle Shaffer, president and CEO of TwinMedix, a skincare line featuring professional, pharmaceutical grade formulas. “Bakuchiol is one of the few retinol-like ingredients to be backed up by clinical trials in effectively speeding up skin cell regeneration.”

Unlike its retinol counterpart, which can also contain animal byproducts from sources such as fish and egg yolks, plant-based bakuchiol is vegan and ideal for sensitive skin. It works most effectively when applied before bed and helps to repair skin overnight.

“Bakuchiol works to turn over skin cells, making room for newer, fresher, and better-appearing cells to come to the top,” notes Shaffer. “It also pushes collagen to the surface for more elastic, youthful-looking skin and diminishes signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, skin laxity, and overall photo damage.”

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