Bakuchiol May Have Multiple Applications in Dermatology

Antiaging, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties position bakuchiol as a retinol alternative.

Bakuchiol (BAK) may be effective in various applications in dermatology and has antiaging, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, according to findings from a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

Investigators conducted a systematic review of studies reporting on the use of BAK, a meroterpene phenol abundant in the plant Psoralea corylifolia, in dermatology. They performed an electronic literature search on PubMed in November 2021.

A total of 29 articles were included, of which 16 were preclinical studies, 7 were clinical studies, 3 were commentaries, 2 were narrative reviews, and 1 reported on adverse events.

The antiaging effects of BAK were assessed in 13 studies. Research showed that BAK can be a functional analog of retinol, as BAK targets several cellular pathways in a similar manner. The anti-aging efficacy and safety of BAK in all skin types were evaluated in 5 clinical studies with 103 patients. In 1 study, participants had a significant decrease in wrinkles and increased skin firmness after 3 months. The patients also had overall improvement in skin quality and complexion with tolerance in all skin types.

Bakuchiol has been poised in the skin-care market as a retinol alternative with proven antiaging, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

BAK was also assessed in a 12-week, open-label trial of a dual product regimen in women with mild to moderate hyperpigmented and photodamaged facial skin. The patients had significant improvement in clinical grading scores, and the only adverse event was increased dryness that was not persistent at 12 weeks.

BAK was also studied in a nature-based cleanser moisturizer combination in 60 middle-aged women with Fitzpatrick I-V skin type and mild to moderate photodamaged skin and self-perceived sensitive skin. No tolerability issues were reported, and statistically significant improvement occurred in all parameters, including visual smoothness, tactile smoothness, clarity, radiance, overall appearance, and global anti-aging.

BAK has also been studied in a ginkgo biloba extract and mannitol complex as an adjunct to adapalene 0.1% gel for treating patients with mild to moderate acne. BAK demonstrated inhibition of Cutibacterium acnes growth in vitro.

In vitro studies with BAK have suggested multiple potential applications in dermatology. BAK showed anticancer properties by reducing xenograft tumor growth and decreased viability and inhibited growth of human epithelial carcinoma cells in a mouse model.

When compared with other compounds derived from P corylifolia in an in vitro study, BAK showed moderate keratinocyte antiproliferative activity. Bakuchiol also was evaluated for its immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory mechanisms in macrophage cell lines, with results showing that it significantly suppressed the pro-inflammatory cytokine expression in a dose-dependent manner.

Researchers noted that 1 adverse event case of contact dermatitis was reported in the literature.

“Bakuchiol has been poised in the skin-care market as a retinol alternative with proven antiaging, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties,” stated the researchers. “Additional studies are warranted to better understand and maximize its applications in dermatology.”


Puyana C, Chandan N, Tsoukas M. Applications of bakuchiol in dermatology: systematic review of the literature. J Cosmet Dermatol. Published online September 29, 2022. doi: 10.1111/jocd.15420