Botanical extract’s efficacy comparable to retinol, finds study

A study has compared the anti-ageing properties of retinol with an ingredient found in an Indian plant, leading to “promising” findings for the botanical ingredient.

Bakuchiol is derived from Indian plant babchi and has recently been discovered to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers from universities across the US wanted to see how the efficacy and side effects of bakuchiol compared with vitamin A derivative retinol, a popular and thoroughly researched anti-ageing ingredient.

The goal was to find out whether bakuchiol could give similar anti-ageing results to retinol without the side effects often experienced when using it, which can include redness, irritation and peeling.

44 volunteers were split into two groups, each asked to apply either bakuchiol 0.5% cream twice daily or retinol 0.5% cream daily to their face for 12 weeks. Photographs were taken of each participant with an analytical camera before the experiment and at four, eight and 12 weeks.

A dermatologist analysed pigmentation and redness at each marker, when volunteers also answered questions about any side effects. Both ingredients were found to “significantly decrease” pigmentation and wrinkle surface area at the end of the trial with no notable statistical difference, though the researchers noted “more scaling and stinging” in the retinol group.

At week 12, 59% of the bakuchiol participants showed improvement in skin pigmentation, compared to 44% of those who had been using retinol.

The study’s lead investigator Dr Raja Sivamani said: “For consumers who value natural products, bakuchiol provides appeal due to its origin in several plant species. Although retinol may also be derived from various natural sources, it can cause unwanted side-effects that make it less comfortable to use.”

Another significant finding this year came from a study that found skin and hair ageing is reversible in mice.