BFFs: Bakuchiol and Retinol Skincare

5 min
by Kayla Kernel
January 21, 2022

When is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? When talking about Reese’s Cups, the components that come together to form your Vitamix motor, or the individual carbon atoms that eventually transform into a diamond. Or, in the case of skincare, when the promising young upstart bakuchiol meets derm-beloved, tried-and-true retinol. Individually, each of these ingredients is a star, but combining the two creates an even more powerful entity—not unlike Thor meeting Iron Man and the rest of the gang and forming the Avengers. 


Bakuchiol – a brief definition

An extract that comes from the seeds and/or leaves of the Psoralea Corylifolia or “babchi” plant, bakuchiol has long been a staple in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties and is used to treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and alopecia. Bakuchiol also attaches to retinoid receptors in the skin, touching off a chain reaction that eventually results in new collagen formation. But don’t believe everything you read: Bakuchiol is not a natural form of retinol.


Retinol – a brief definition

A derivative of vitamin A, retinol ramps up cellular turnover, which leads to increased collagen production that eventually results in firmer, plumper skin. Retinol also thwarts tyrosinase—the enzyme that controls melanin production – helping to minimize hyperpigmentation. It can also clear up acne and smooth out skin texture. However, retinol can sometimes trigger skin irritation, like redness, peeling, or flaking, especially in the novice user. That typically disappears, though, as skin becomes accustomed to the new ingredient. 


The moisture barrier – skin’s unsung hero

Also known as the stratum corneum or the acid mantle, the moisture barrier is the outermost layer of skin, the thing you’re staring at when you look at the back of your hand or inspect the pores around your nose. It’s made of dead skin cells (technically called corneocytes) bound together by the extracellular matrix. The extracellular matrix, in turn, is fortified by lamellar bodies containing ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. Think of lamellar bodies like transport ships ferrying cargo from earth (in this case, living skin cells) to a space station that is the extracellular matrix.

We care about keeping the moisture barrier in tip-top shape because its job is to keep everything terrible (irritants, germs, pollutants) out of your body while simultaneously holding all the water you need to stay alive inside your body. Chinks in the moisture barrier (which can occur due to age, harsh soaps, free radicals, medication, and more) allow for transepidermal water loss (TEWL). That’s when water in your body evaporates through your skin and leaves it looking red, chapped, irritated, inflamed, or acne-ridden. 

As previously noted, retinol, for all its amazingly good qualities, can irritate skin (read: disrupt the moisture barrier). Bakuchiol, on the other hand, has the ability to upregulate the genes responsible for barrier function, which reinforces the moisture barrier and halts TEWL. And since it’s also an anti-inflammatory, bakuchiol soothes any other fussiness retinol kicks up when it’s first applied. Used in combination as part of a regular skincare routine, retinol and bakuchiol deliver the best of both worlds.

You get retinol’s unmatched ability to reduce everything from acne to signs of aging (truly—its effectiveness has been proven time and again in massive clinical studies). And the addition of bakuchiol to a retinol product’s formulation means that you can dive right into a retinol routine, without fear that you’re going to contend with unwanted side effects in the first few weeks, thanks to a busted moisture barrier. It’s no wonder that bakuchiol has quickly become retinol’s ride or die.

 

Discover Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare for All Your Skincare Needs

Try the Dr. Dennis Gross line of retinol skincare featuring our Phyto-Retinol Blend™ that highlights the benefits of both retinol and bakuchiol. For more skincare tips from the experts at Dr. Dennis Gross, check out our blog’s newest content today. Shop the collection of Dr. Dennis Gross bestselling skincare backed by dermatologists.

Written By

Kayla Kernel

Kayla is a Medical Esthetician with 10+ years of experience. Growing up, Kayla struggled with cystic acne and scarring. This experience drives her passion to help others on their skincare journey. Kayla specializes in all skin types, tones, and ages.

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Written By

Kayla Kernel

Kayla is a Medical Esthetician with 10+ years of experience. Growing up, Kayla struggled with cystic acne and scarring. This experience drives her passion to help others on their skincare journey. Kayla specializes in all skin types, tones, and ages.

MORE FROM Kayla Kernel

What is IPL: All You Need To Know on Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

Read More