The Great Debate: Bakuchiol vs Retinol

The Great Debate: Bakuchiol vs Retinol

Posted by Kiri Yanchenko on

Bakuchiol is the new skincare ingredient the beauty world has become obsessed with lately, all thanks to a juicy debate going around that it’s a natural, gentler alternative to retinol.

Bakuchiol, (pronounced “buh-koo-chee-all") is not new in terms of discovery, it’s long been used in Ayurvedic and even Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. Bakuchiol is derived from the seeds and leaves of the Indian Babchi plant & has been used for centuries to treat hyperpigmentation, skin rashes and a range of other skin conditions. 

But does it really work as well as retinol and who is it best suited for?

Bakuchiol can help block the inflammatory response in your skin to help minimise redness and irritation and it’s able to help prevent and restore signs of premature ageing, due to its antioxidant, collagen-stimulating and hydrating properties

Bakuchiol is also great for clear skin, as it uses its gentle anti-inflammatory powers to minimise the formation of blemishes and to calm the skin. It can help to minimise the production of melanin and therefore brighten the skin tone. And of course, many compare its effects to that of vitamin A as they both help to visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

AMPERNA® Bakuchiol vs Retinol

Bakuchiol & Retinol both help to speed up cellular turnover in the skin, giving it a smoother, softer surface. Retinol and bakuchiol also both help to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, for a more youthful-looking, plumper complexion.

But here’s the major selling point - there are no bakuchiol side effects. This ingredient doesn’t have any of retinol’s reactions that can occur, like redness, a stinging sensation and irritation.

Bakuchiol has been clinically proven to harness anti-ageing powers that are comparable to retinol, without any side effects that can sometimes occur with vitamin A use. Bakuchiol is also “photostable”, meaning it can be used during the day, unlike retinol, which makes us extremely sensitive to the sun. 

Quick Bakuchiol Stats

  • Vegan
  • Good for all skin types
  • Gentler alternative to retinol
  • Encourages collagen production for fewer fine lines
  • Boosts skin cell turnover rate for a more even, brighter complexion

Quick Retinol Stats

  • Offered in various strengths and potencies
  • Anti-ageing for smoother skin with fewer lines
  • Brightens the skin and evens complexion tone
  • Potent, showing strong results with continued use
  • Boosts skin cell turnover rate for youthful looking skin
  • Has a long track record of efficacy in clinical and public use

AMPERNA® Bakuchiol vs Retinol

So, Should I use Bakuchiol Instead of Retinol?

While it’s accurate to say at AMPERNA® we still love retinols, we know they aren’t for everyone.

If you’re just starting out using actives, into more natural skincare, are pregnant/breastfeeding, or have sensitive skin then Bakuchiol is your go-to ingredient. 

We recommend using bakuchiol in conjunction with a vitamin C serum and your SPF in the morning for a complete skincare routine.

Here’s a General Guide to Whether Bakuchiol or Retinol is Best for You

Sensitive Skin – Acneic Skin – Reactive Skin

If your skin falls into the category of sensitive or reactive, it’s better to be safe and start off with the gentler option. Not only does this provide anti-ageing benefits in an inclusive way for sensitive skin types, but bakuchiol will help address the enlarged pores that can sometimes contribute to acne and breakouts.


Bakuchiol makes for the better vegan option because it’s always plant based. Though there are plant-based retinol options, bakuchiol is a fully natural plant-based option that anyone can use.

Post-Acneic Skin

The feeling of finally getting to the bottom of our blemishes and breakouts is priceless, but this discovery often results in a skin care product revamp. If removing acne scars is a huge goal, a retinol option will be more effective. Because retinol helps to diminish pores, regular use can also help with continuous acne control.

AMPERNA® Bakuchiol vs Retinol

First Timers

For those of us that are open to either product, why not start with the gentler option and work up to retinol? When we aren’t sure how our skin may react with the product, by starting with bakuchiol we’re able to test out how impactful these products can be for our skin type. After some months of consistency, swapping out bakuchiol for a retinol can help revive the skin, and effectively target remaining signs of premature aging or hyperpigmentation.

Seasonal Skin Care

Review your skincare habits as you would with your wardrobe in the changing seasons. Our summer skincare should adjust to suit our summer lifestyle. As retinol does result in sun sensitivity, it may be better used in fall/winter seasons instead & using a bakuchiol alternative during summer.

At AMPERNA® we have You Covered with both Options

Pro + Bio Resurfacing Retinol ALT (007)

This gentle leave on bakuchiol serum is a pregnancy safe version of our Pro+ Bio Resurfacing Retinol RX serum. It contains azelaic acid salt, niacinamide, liquorice root extract and zinc & copper gluconates to help calm redness and improve the skin’s appearance.

Our Pro+ Bio Resurfacing Retinol ALT serum is the first pregnancy safe probiotic retinol to market that has been specially formulated for use by first time users and even the most sensitive skins. This bakuchiol serum includes ingredients to help negate any irritation you would normally get with other retinols.

Pro + Bio Resurfacing Retinol (006)

This gentle leave on granactive retinoid serum contains AZA, niacinamide, liquorice root extract and zinc & copper gluconates to help calm redness and improve the skin’s appearance.

This granactive retinoid serum includes ingredients to help negate any irritation you would normally get with other retinols. If you are wanting to work up to this, please start with our Pro+ Bio Resurfacing Retinol ALT which is a plant based retinol alternative that contains Bakuchiol.


Blog article author

Written By Kiri Yanchenko

Kiri Yanchenko is the founder and CEO of AMPERNA®. Having had severe pustular acne and perioral dermatitis herself, she has a deep personal understanding of the challenges faced by having problem skin. She has over 10 years of experience in skincare and holistic skin coaching and is passionate about helping everyone feel comfortable in their own skin.

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