Retinol is the most well-known anti-aging ingredient and a popular cosmetic “tool” for fighting acne. It is highly valued and recommended by specialists, but with certain reservations: products with retinol are best used on the recommendation of a cosmetologist and only during the cold season. It is strictly forbidden during pregnancy and lactation. The case when you do not doubt the effectiveness, but you should be careful. Because of this, another ingredient, bacuchiol, has become popular in the industry in recent years. It is considered a herbal alternative to vitamin A. Means with bacucciol are most often offered to people with sensitive skin, which seems extremely tempting, given that the component has virtually no contraindications. But are there any pitfalls in this story?
What is bacucciol?
It is an herbal component that is derived from the flowers of the psoralea plant. It has long been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antibacterial agent. In the European register of cosmetic ingredients bacuchiol was registered in 1998, but for a number of reasons it was not actively used: in most cases in small doses, but not as a key component in the composition.
Retinol and bacucciol – what is the difference?
Indeed, bacucciol is considered an alternative to retinol. But in fact these components are very different from each other: they have completely different chemical structures and different ways of affecting problems. The only thing they have in common is the effect they have.
There are clinical studies that prove the anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects of bacucciol. That is why the component can be seen in the composition of products to combat acne. There is evidence that bacucciol stimulates skin cells, their reproduction, division and repair. The ingredient is also being researched and is already being used in orthopedics and cardiology.
Bacucciol is good because it has no contraindications like retinol. I’m referring to pregnancy and being in the sun. A big bonus is that there are no localized skin reactions that come with retinol (irritation, redness, peeling).
Are there any pitfalls?
Absolutely. Most of the clinical studies with this component are in vitro, that is, conducted in vitro. One in vivo study was conducted over 12 weeks with 44 patients. One group of people was given 0.5% bacucciol twice a day. The other group received 0.5% retinol once a day. In both cases an improvement in skin condition was noted. Bacucciol was also tested on skin with photodamage: pigmentation, wrinkles, reduction in density. And here it showed good results. I would like to point out that in the experiment bacucciol was applied twice a day and retinol once a day. This shows the need for a higher concentration of the first component in the cosmetic products.
As an argument in favor of retinol, I can say that it is a very studied and long used component, so it is safe for humans. But what kind of delayed effect bacucciol may have in the long term, no one knows.
What is the outlook for bacucciol?
Bacucciol is a very promising and interesting ingredient that may eventually push retinol aside. It is something that is definitely worth trying. In my opinion, the most important task of cosmetic manufacturers who use bacucciol at the moment is to find the right and effective ways to deliver this component to the right tissue layers, where it will work 100%. In this sense, retinol is winning now, because it has been researched for a long time and specialists have already created the correct “transport systems” just for retinol. Thanks to this, we get great results most of the time.
With bacuchiol, the story is more complicated. After monitoring the market, I see only a few well-established companies using this component. But we can hope that in 5-10 years the situation will change, and bacucciol will be more actively used for the treatment of age-related changes and acne.