Natural vs. Chemical
“Natural” is nowadays perceived as a guarantee for safety, in opposition to “chemical.” But as everyone should know, nature is only about chemistry, and it is not always synonymous with “safe and suitable.” From the death of Socrates by poison hemlock to the accidental ingestion of deadly nightshade by children, poisonous plants have been responsible for human deaths throughout history. Castor bean, Rosary pea, and white snakeroot, among others, are well-known toxic plants among the most lethal drugs, and thousands of others are reported to create allergic reactions or systemic effects.
And yet there is a real defiance towards the cosmetic industry and the products on the shelves which do not sound natural or without natural labels. Natural and organic are not only a trend nowadays, but they have also become new a way of life that integrates more sustainable habits like buying directly your vegetables from farmers, reducing your waste and minimizing your impact on the environment.
In this world where natural and organic are not only a trend but have almost become a social norm, the temptation is great to only seek more natural options.
Bakuchiol or Babchi Oil?
Indeed, Bakuchiol is a highly purified active ingredient coming from the plant psoralea corylifolia, commonly called babchi. But lately, we saw multiple blogs, articles and Youtube videos recommending to directly use babchi oil or crushed babchi seeds in “do-it-yourself products” or homemade recipes.
Well, claiming babchi seeds as natural is a fact. Is it safe for your skin? Clearly not!
To better understand what exposure risks consumers may face when buying online, we purchased 4 babchi oils from a well-known public eCommerce platform in the USA. We analyzed the samples by a validated High-Pressure Liquid Chromatographic (HPLC) method using a 99% Bakuchiol as the internal standard.
The assay revealed Bakuchiol concentrations between 1.6% to 12.1%. In terms of efficacy, you would need quite a lot of Babchi oil to obtain the same efficacy as pure Bakuchiol at 1% in cream.
But the biggest concern is the amount of Psoralenes and Isopsoralenes ranging from 989 to 4,768 ppm.
Psoralens are naturally found in babchi seeds, but they are highly phototoxic for the skin. The latest Scientific Committee On Consumer Safety (SCCS), a European Committee that assesses health and safety risk for cosmetics, published an Opinion in 2005 that limits the number of psoralens up to 1 ppm in a final product. In addition, 2 references revealed high concentrations of residual solvents such as hexane used for the extraction process (1900 ppm and 2235 ppm).
Find Safe Products for Your Skin With Bakuchiol
Using a non-standardized crude oil containing such by-products or unknown phytochemicals can have deleterious effects and should not be recommended as a “more natural alternative” to pure Bakuchiol.
By law, finished products using these crude oils or dry powder should report the Latin name of the plant on the full labeling and not Bakuchiol.
The cosmetic industry is among the most regulated area, and this is for a very good reason: what we apply on the skin is only supposed to make us look better and not cause unwanted side effects or worse.
Almost all the well-recognized brands you can trust use high-purity Bakuchiol at the clinically demonstrated use level (between 0.5% and 1.0%), both for anti-aging and acne-prone skin.
If you have a doubt about a cosmetic product claiming the presence of Bakuchiol, feel free to contact us.