Is Bakuchiol really purple?

 

Despite what some marketers would like us to believe, no, Bakuchiol is not purple. Unlike the Psoralea Corylifolia flower, Bakuchiol is obtained from the seeds and therefore it comes as a viscous yellow liquid.

So, cosmetic products with a clear purple or violet color are more than unlikely to contain Bakuchiol.

 

Can I find Bakuchiol in a water-based serum?

 

It is tempting to use Bakuchiol in skin serum as the texture is fresh and appealing. However, Bakuchiol is not water soluble.

If you see a transparent water-based serum, with no oil phase, no emulsifier but claiming to contain Bakuchiol, it may contain a water extract from the plant, but not Bakuchiol; at least at detectable concentration.

The serum would be a yellowish cloudy liquid, or a 2-phase product with oil floating on the surface.

 

Does Bakuchiol stimulate cell turnover?

 

All available data lead to think that unlike Retinoids, Bakuchiol does not increase cell proliferation. We are born with a limited number of mitosis, so constantly stimulating cells’ turnover might provide short-term positive results but would raise questionable benefits on long term. On the contrary, Bakuchiol is reported to have antiproliferative activity on cancerous cells.

Bakuchiol suppresses proliferation of skin cancer cells by directly targeting Hck, Blk, and p38 MAP kinase
Kim JE & al.
2016 Mar 22;7(12):14616-27. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.7524.

 

Bakuchiol inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in SGC-7901 human gastric cancer cells
Biomedical Research (2016) Volume 27, Issue 1

 

 

Is Bakuchiol a plant-based retinoid (or natural retinol)?

 

Even though Bakuchiol is natural, chemically speaking it does not belong to the retinoid family. Bakuchiol and Retinol have functional similarities, but also have differences:

SimilaritiesDifferences
Both stimulate key retinoid-binding

genes

Bakuchiol is photostable, Retinol is not
Both stimulate collagen productionBakuchiol does not stimulate cell turnover
Similar efficacy on photoaging demonstrated clinicallyBakuchiol has a better skin tolerance

 

What qualifies Bakuchiol as Bakuchiol?

 

Bakuchiol is the name defined by the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), the organization that provides the INCI names listed on the back of all cosmetic products. In order to use the INCI name Bakuchiol, the ingredient must comply with the INCI ingredient registered as Bakuchiol, which corresponds to a mono-compound. It then must be a highly defined active with over 99% purity. If the purity is lower (80% for instance), Bakuchiol cannot be listed on the full labelling reporting INCI names. Instead the latin name of the used extract should be used. For crude oils like Bakuchi oil, Psoralea Corylifolia plant extract would be the compliant labelling.

Why does it matter? Because the risk assessment of an ingredient relies on its definition itself: if the extract doesn’t have purity of 99%, then it can contain undefined by-products potentially dangerous for the skin, like psoralens that are highly phototoxic and banned for use in personal care products.