If Your Skin Can’t Handle Retinol, Try These Bakuchiol Serums

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Most people land on bakuchiol when they’re looking for a retinol alternative. But actually, bakuchiol is not just “vegan retinol”. It’s not an ingredient you just have to settle for as the “last resort” when your skin can’t handle retinol. It’s a potent skincare ingredient itself backed by a growing number of studies proving its benefits. The best bakuchiol serums offer the same benefits as retinol, minus the unpleasant sensitivity and irritation. And because serums are inherently more penetrating than creams, using a bakuchiol serum is the best way to ensure you get the most benefits.

In case you’ve missed our guide to bakuchiol, here’s the gist. As a plant-derived (babchi) compound, bakuchiol has major anti-aging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits. And according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology: “bakuchiol exhibits promise to serve as an alternative to retinol with fewer side effects” (1).

Even though bakuchiol has a totally different structure than retinol, the way it works makes it basically a substitute for retinol. Just like retinol, bakuchiol reduces wrinkles and lines, improves skin elasticity and firmness, reduces pigmentation and photodamage. But unlike retinol, bakuchiol doesn’t cause a burning or stinging sensation or scaling.

The same study states that “bakuchiol is promising as a more tolerable alternative to retinol.” So if you have skin concerns related to aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and pigmentation, a bakuchiol serum can be of great use. The good thing is bakuchiol is suitable for all skin types. But more importantly, bakuchiol is perfect for people who have sensitive skin and can’t tolerate retinol.

In addition, people with dry skin can benefit from it without worrying about further dryness. It also works great for rosacea sufferers. But still, it’s better to patch test just to be safe. And as it’s a plant-derived ingredient, it’s also the perfect anti-aging ingredient in a natural skincare routine. So you’re in the right place!

The Best Bakuchiol Serums

Below are some of the best bakuchiol serums to get started on nature’s retinol.

1. Ole Henriksen Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum

Ole Henriksen Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum - Best Bakuchiol Serums

Suitable both for day and night time use, this bakuchiol serum has instant and long-term benefits. Anti-aging aside, it is literally a glow serum that brings a healthy radiance to the complexion instantly. If you’re like me and you need to see some instant benefits too, you’re going to love its purple, creamy texture.

Bakuchiol is paired with plant stem cells as well as glycolic and lactic acid, making it as hardworking as a retinol serum. It packs all the right goodies to smooth out wrinkles, reduce pores, and even out the skin tone. Oily and acne-prone skin types will enjoy the formula too.

2. Biossance Squalane + Phyto Retinol Serum

Biossance Squalane Phyto Retinol Serum

This one is a super lightweight bakuchiol serum that absorbs easily and doesn’t leave a sticky feel. It replenishes the skin with hyaluronic acid and increases moisture with squalane. Plus, it’s cruelty-free and vegan.

In addition, multi-tasking niacinamide provides anti-inflammatory and restorative benefits, keeping the skin soft and plump. If you have sensitive skin that’s prone to dryness and redness, this is one of the best bakuchiol serums to combat signs of aging without freaking your skin out.

3. Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum

Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum

This serum is formulated with the gentlest counterparts of mainstream anti-agers. It has bakuchiol as opposed to retinol and polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) as opposed to alpha-hydroxy acids. While bakuchiol reduces the look of signs of aging, gluconolactone, a polyhydroxy acid, exfoliates the skin.

As PHAs have antioxidant and hydrating properties, they don’t cause flakiness or irritation. Plus, the serum has aloe as well as anti-inflammatory turmeric extract. The natural bakuchiol serum gently works to refine the skin texture and soften the look of wrinkles.

There’s an update on this product I’d like to add here for full disclosure. The serum contains the plant extract from which bakuchiol is usually derived. Apparently, the bakuchiol content was very weak in the serum according to a test and that upset a lot of people. I still love the serum because of the PHA. But still, it’s just something to keep in mind.

4. HydroPeptide Vital Eyes

HydroPeptide Vital Eyes

When there’s a retinol alternative that reduces wrinkles, the under-eye area will want to have a taste. If puffy eyes, crow’s feet, and dark circles are among your concerns, try this potent bakuchiol eye serum. It targets fine lines around the eyes with bakuchiol and reduces dark circles with caffeine. The roller tip massages the eye area and reduces puffiness and the look of undereye bags.

Moreover, the eye serum contains Argireline, a neuropeptide that restricts muscle contraction and smooths out wrinkles. The eye serum offers amazing anti-aging eye care with its potent formulation of bakuchiol, peptides, stem cells, and antioxidants, making it the best bakuchiol eye serum for aging and sensitive skin.

5. Isdinceutics Melatonik Overnight Recovery Serum

Isdinceutics Melatonik Overnight Recovery Serum

Powered by antioxidants, this one is an impressive anti-aging night serum. Melatonin, not to be confused with the supplement, acts as an antioxidant when used topically. It triggers the skin into switching to a restorative mode where it can undo the daily damage.

Plus, it has vitamin C to protect the skin against further photodamage and limit the formation of dark spots. Together with bakuchiol, the serum rejuvenates the skin and speeds up collagen production without causing sensitivity, redness, or tightness. The result is firmer, smoother, and glowing skin in the morning.

6. Beautycounter Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum

Beautycounter Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum - Best Bakuchiol Serums

Formulated with peptides to increase skin elasticity, the bakuchiol serum is also super hydrating. It has hyaluronic acid and squalane as well as amino acids that have moisturizing properties.

It also contains Alpine rose that has amazing antioxidant benefits to defend the skin against free radicals while also increasing the skin’s natural luminosity.

7. Oskia Super 16 Advanced Nutri-Active Collagen Serum

Oskia Super 16 Advanced Nutri-Active Collagen Serum

First of all, 16 is the number of nutrient-rich skin foods packed into this potent serum. Offering vitamins C and E as the ultimate antioxidant combo, the bakuchiol serum is also a pollution defense against wrinkle-causing free radicals. The formula also contains retinyl palmitate, a gentle form of retinol, to double the anti-aging effects.

Combined with bakuchiol, you can say goodbye to enlarged pores, wrinkles, and discolorations without worrying about scaling or irritation. The serum is fragrance-free and leaves the skin incredibly hydrated, nourished, and revitalized.

8. Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum

Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum

Speaking of retinol, you can consider a bakuchiol serum that contains retinol. Because bakuchiol actually stabilizes retinol and makes the product more tolerable for the skin too. And for that, this serum contains a very low concentration of retinol in encapsulated form.

So it’s already non-sensitizing. And it has bakuchiol for cumulative benefits. The serum has a very replenishing, emollient, but non-greasy base and a blend of skin soothers to keep the skin happy too. And hey, it’s also budget-friendly!

9. Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum

Allies of Skin Mandelic Pigmentation Corrector Night Serum - Best Bakuchiol Serums

This one is a targeted serum formulated with several hardworking ingredients to tackle hyperpigmentation. It’s the one to go for if you’re struggling with stubborn acne scars, dark spots, and uneven skin tone. It’s a multi-acid complex containing mandelic, lactic, and salicylic acids with a total concentration of 11%.

They exfoliate the skin, remove the dead skin layer and the debris inside the pores. Doing that, the serum lifts away dark spots. It infuses the skin with hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 (panthenol), and vitamin B3 (niacinamide) for long-lasting moisture. And it has resveratrol to brighten the skin while 1% bakuchiol, and peptides reverse signs of aging.

10. Acure Radically Rejuvenating Dual Phase Bakuchiol Serum

Acure Radically Rejuvenating Dual Phase Bakuchiol Serum

Made with a serious bunch of antioxidants, the drugstore bakuchiol serum is surprisingly effective. While bakuchiol softens wrinkles, vitamins C and E guard the skin against free radicals. The serum also has antioxidant-rich eggplant and turmeric extracts.

It has a unique formulation that blends together an essence and serum when you shake it. It tackles signs of aging while infusing the skin with soothing, anti-inflammatory botanicals.

11. Bybi Bakuchiol Booster

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This one is an amazing option to get started on bakuchiol. The formula consists of squalane and bakuchiol, that’s it. Just add a few drops of the skin booster into your moisturizer or serum to increase its anti-aging benefits. It’s cruelty-free, all-natural, and also super affordable.

This completes our round-up of the best bakuchiol serums. Remember that the most effective defense against wrinkles is sun protection. Even though bakuchiol doesn’t make the skin more prone to sunburn as retinol does, it’s better to be on the safe side and continue wearing it.

Read Next: The Best Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) Serums


  1. Dhaliwal, S., Rybak, I., Ellis, S., Notay, M., Trivedi, M., Burney, W., Vaughn, A., Nguyen, M., Reiter, P., Bosanac, S., Yan, H., Foolad, N. and Sivamani, R. (2019), Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing. Br J Dermatol, 180: 289-296. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjd.16918
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