Does bakuchiol really work? An honest review of this Pinterest-favorite beauty product.

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I’ve seen “bakuchiol” explode in my Pinterest searches over the past few months, with #retinolalternative trending everywhere. Bakuchiol, an all-natural option to Retinol, is supposed to work just as well on wrinkles and aging skin (ahem), without the risk of irritation that Retinol can cause. I was wildly curious!

So, we purchased the products and put it to the test.

I used my serum every single morning and evening for 7 weeks — a feat for a low-maintenance skin-care person like me — to determine whether it really made any difference in my skin. I also took photos to show you the before-and-afters of using bakuchiol on my skin to help you figure out whether it could be right for you.

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More beauty products from our Damn You, Facebook Ads series,
in which we buy and try the products showing up in our social feeds:

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Function of Beauty shampoo and conditioner review
Glossier Balm Dot Calm review

Earthling Co.’s bar shampoo review
Inkbox Semi-Permanent Tattoos review



The benefits of bakuchiol: What it is

So, why are people freaking out (and they are freaking out) over bakuchiol? First, in an increasingly environmentally conscious world, many of us are looking for more natural, plant-based options for skincare over chemicals. But the appeal is more than just that.

Many users report that they don’t experience the irritation or burning sensation that they get from Retinol.

Another nice benefit of bakuchiol is that you can use it during the daytime, as opposed to Retinol, which  can irritate your skin even more when it’s exposed to sunlight

And last, a growing number of dermatologists seem to be comfortable recommending bakuchiol as a natural alternative to retinol, or a more gentle introductory product before trying Retin-A.

Related: Is The Ordinary skincare and makeup any good, considering it’s so cheap? We tried it to see.


The bakuchiol product I used

I decided to test bakuchol using Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum from Beautycounter. I used to sell Beautycounter products, and remain a fan. Beautycounter’s serum promises to increase skin hydration, increase firmness and elasticity and reduce fine lines. And all the ingredients — not just the bakuchiol — are free of potentially harmful chemicals.

That said, there are countless bakuchiol products out there to choose from, from the $10 Bakuchiol moisturizer by cult British beauty brand The Inkey List at Sephora, to a $160/ounce bottle of Isdinceutics Melatonik 3-in-1 Night Serum (both shown above) which has been well-reviewed by a lot of beauty editors, but WOW the price.

Whatever your price range, just make sure the bakuchiol ingredient is listed before any preservatives on the label. This ensures you’re getting enough bakuchiol to actually make an impact.

A tip: Preservatives are identified with words like phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, or potassium sorbate.

Related: We tried Glossier Balm Dot Com. Is it all that?

Before my bakuchiol regimen…

The awkward “before” photos. No makeup, natural lighting, and no filters… if you can’t tell. 

For context, it’s probably helpful for you to know a bit about my skin. I am 41, and I have fair skin with lots of freckles. Some age spots dot my face. I wear sunscreen as often as I can remember, but I rarely use other skincare products on my face. When  I do, I prefer natural or “safe” options. A full makeup and skin-care regime is not part of my daily routine; let’s just say a light coat of foundation is something I save for a really fancy occasion.

I use a basic face wash for cleansing but not age-defying effects. When I shower, I scrub my face for exfoliation using a rough loofah sponge.

I typically don’t experience inflammatory reactions to skincare products like many people do with Retinol, although I am sensitive to stage makeup and one eye cream I used to use.

If you look at the photos above, they showcase the main spots I wanted to target: my neck and eyes, with the hope of seeing some improvements in the fine lines around my eyes, the redness around my eyes, and that awful crease on my neck.

(Hey, we all have weird things we don’t like about ourselves.)

Related: 3 favorite under eye concealers that could actually help you look well-rested


After 7 weeks of bakuchiol use

I used the Beautycounter bakuchiol serum every morning and every night for 7 weeks straight. I found it light, and it goes on very smoothly, although it kind of sits and soaks into your skin. (You might want to wash your hands after applying to your face.) The feeling isn’t exactly sticky, but it isn’t something I could just rub into my hands and go on with my morning, as with a normal facial moisturizer.

So, after 7 weeks of bakuchiol I was…underwhelmed?

My results were mixed: The fine lines under my eyes are most improved, although the baby crow’s feet are definitely still there. I think the overall glow and health of my skin looks better in the after photos. And one thing you can’t see in the photos is the way my skin feels. It’s smoother and more hydrated after using this product, for sure.

However I was disappointed that the crease on my neck looked hardly improved at all, despite receiving a thorough coat of the serum twice a day. I had hoped to see some reduction there over those 7 weeks.

As for the redness around my eyes, there’s really no difference there at all, unfortunately.

Now I know that most trials speak to 12 weeks of use, so perhaps I need to keep going with it. But I’d think that after 7 weeks I’d see some more results or at least feel like I was on my way to them.

Related: The single best dry shampoo ever, according to someone who has tried them all

The bottom line: is bakuchiol worth it?

I have stopped with the twice-a-day bakuchiol routine, but I do find myself going back to it as my first option when my skin needs a little more pampering than usual. At minimum, it does provide a quick, effective boost of hydration that makes me feel more presentable, especially on my no-makeup days

But here’s something worth noting: no one — not one single person — mentioned that my skin was looking better while I was using the bakuchiol. It’s the kind of thing my mom, at least, would have noticed. She didn’t.

Now I’m admittedly cheap when it comes to makeup and skincare products, but I’m not likely to continue spending $80 a bottle on what is basically working like a regular moisturizing serum for me.

Hey, maybe I’ll try the $10 bottle for upkeep next time.

If you’ve had different — or similar — results with Bakuchiol please let us know! We’d love to hear about it.  And if you have other products in your social media feeds that you want us to try for you, hit us up. We’d love to try them. 

Kate Etue