Retinol vs. Bakuchiol: The Covey Ultimate Guide

Everywhere you look, you’ll hear dermatologists and skin care enthusiasts alike raving about retinol. 

So, what is retinol? This anti-aging powerhouse is a derivative of Vitamin A that’s often applied topically in small concentrations. It can tackle acne, promote cell turnover to combat fine lines and wrinkles, smooth texture, and stimulate collagen production for plump, glowy-from-the-inside-out skin. 

But what if you’re hesitant about retinol and retinoids? What if you’re looking for an alternative to retinol that’s pregnancy-safe, or have sensitive skin and need something gentler? 

That’s exactly where bakuchiol comes in. 

What Is Bakuchiol? 

Bakuchiol is touted as a gentle, natural alternative to retinol, and it’s vegan. Derived from the babchi plant, studies on bakuchiol show that it achieves similar effects to retinol, including: 

  • Increased cell turnover 
  • Stimulates collagen production 
  • Combats fine lines and wrinkles
  • Reduces hyperpigmentation 

Plus, bakuchiol is said to avoid the dreaded retinol purge or, the “retinol uglies,” as The Cut puts it. The purge happens when still is adjusting to the use of a retinoid, and typically takes anywhere from 4-8 weeks to fully adjust. During the purge, you might see redness, flakiness, and general skin freakouts that will make you doubt if you can stay the retinol course. Derms generally recommend you hang in there! 

If you want to skip the awkward phase and get straight to the glow up, this bakuchiol might be right for you. It’ll still take time to see its benefits, but it’s gentler on the skin.  

Other Retinol Alternatives 

Other than bakuchiol, here are the top alternatives to retinol: 

  • Glycolic acid, a chemical exfoliant that works from the outside in to smooth skin 
  • Peptides, which work to skin from free radicals 
  • Resveratrol, a superpower antioxidant that protects against aging 
  • Niacinamide, which is also known to ramp up collagen production
  • Vitamin C, a miracle antioxidant 

Are Retinol Alternatives Safe for Pregnancy? 

Doctors recommend avoiding retinoids and salicylic acid (as well as most AHAs and BHAs)  during pregnancy or breast-feeding, as they’re linked with birth defects. However, these ingredients are safe generally to use while breastfeeding: 

  1. Bakuchiol 
  2. Azelaic Acid 
  3. Vitamin C 

Vitamin C supports collagen production for firm, plump skin and banishes dark spots and hyper-pigmentation over time. You can include Vitamin C in your routine as a serum (like the Covey Next Up Vitamin C Serum!) for maximum benefit. 

Always ask your derm to approve your pregnancy skincare routine! 

Putting it all together

In the battle between bakuchiol vs. retinol, your choice of skincare product really depends on how sensitive your skin is. If you’re prone to redness, irritation, and sensitivity, retinoids might be too strong for you. 

If you're looking for a ready to go, easy to use anti-aging routine, check out Covey's Level Up Routine which includes their best-selling Sleep Tight Bakuchiol serum

Want more Covey skincare? Shop all products here

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