Bakuchiol is at the top of the list for consumers looking for a natural alternative to retinol, offering all the benefits of retinol without the negative side effects. However, some commercial Bakuchiol products on the market are making claims that aren’t true. In this blog post, we share the top 3 red flags and how to avoid them in your product.
Consumers choose skin care products by reading and trusting the claims they read on the label. When those products don’t deliver on the claims they promise, consumers lose trust and the brand’s reputation suffers.
Unfortunately, making lofty claims on a skin care product’s label is more common than you would expect, whether that is the brand intentionally misleading consumers or mistakenly making claims based on a lack of awareness. This is especially true for commercial products claiming Bakuchiol content.
Analyzing Bakuchiol Content in Commercial Products
The benefits of Bakuchiol have fueled the launch of many commercial anti-aging and acne fighting products. To be effective, however, the levels of Bakuchiol in a product must be sufficient to deliver clinical efficacy while in a range appropriate for safety.
The Sytheon team ran an HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) analysis on 48 commercial products that claim to contain Bakuchiol to determine if they meet the criteria needed to be consistent with clinical efficacy and safety. We used Sytenol® A Bakuchiol as an analytical standard to perform an assay on samples claiming to be a 99% pure Bakuchiol or Bakuchi oil. Ultimately, we uncovered instances where claims on the label fell short or otherwise raised a red flag.
3 Red Flags to Avoid with Your Bakuchiol Product
#1. Low Levels
Four of the products analyzed were found to contain Bakuchiol levels significantly below 0.5%, which is the level clinically proven to provide efficacy. For these products, any efficacy claims related to retinol-like benefits are questionable.
Unfortunately, this points to a major red flag: a brand that wants to claim Bakuchiol content on the label but doesn’t care about delivering efficacy. This strategy will undoubtedly harm a brand’s reputation once consumers realize it doesn’t work as promised.
If you want to claim Bakuchiol content and deliver true efficacy for your consumers, make sure you are using the minimum level clinically proven for efficacy.
#2. Use of Extracts
Bakuchiol is obtained from the plant Psoralea corylifolia, and Babchi is the traditional name of the seeds that come from that plant.
There is a misconception that Babchi oil, psoralea corylifolia seed extract, or Babchi seed extract will deliver the same benefits as pure Bakuchiol. There’s also a misconception that these extracts can be used interchangeably with Bakuchiol. In fact, these extracts are actually all different, and products that list these ingredients on the label may not contain any Bakuchiol at all or such low levels that Bakuchiol is undetectable.
In our analysis, 4 products listed extracts, and only 1 of those 4 had levels of Bakuchiol consistent with clinical efficacy.
In addition to efficacy concerns, the use of an extract introduces safety concerns for consumers. Less pure Bakuchiol contains more sensitizers, residual solvents, and other unknown ingredients in the product. These additional ingredients are known to cause skin problems such as contact dermatitis, redness, and irritation.
If you want to claim Bakuchiol content and deliver an effective and safe product to your consumers, make sure you are using 99%+ pure Bakuchiol that’s free of sensitizers, residual solvents, and unknown ingredients.
#3. High Levels
Using the minimum level clinically proven for efficacy is important in a Bakuchiol product, but that doesn’t mean more Bakuchiol content is better. In general, recommended use levels broadly span the range of 0.2-1.0%.
Two of the products in our analysis contained high levels of Bakuchiol.
For example, one brand claimed 2.0% Bakuchiol content but actually included 2.35%. Even 2% is outside of the recommended range because different skin types across certain ethnicities are more sensitive than others. Including over 1.0% Bakuchiol in your product can lead to complaints and a damaged brand reputation, depending on who is using your product.
Also, there is a market for products that act as boosters for existing skin care products, formulated to enhance the properties of the base product and provide targeted benefits to the skin. In this case, the product would claim 100% Bakuchiol content. In our analysis, an essential oil claiming 100% only delivered 5.0%. In this scenario, it won’t provide the efficacy when added to another product as directed. On the other hand, if consumers end up using it directly on their face, 5.0% Bakuchiol can cause significant irritation.
If you want to claim Bakuchiol content and deliver a safe product to your customers, it is recommended to stay within the range of 0.5-1.0%. Less is more!
How to Avoid These 3 Red Flags
If you’re looking to capitalize on the Bakuchiol buzz, it’s important to prioritize creating a trustworthy Bakuchiol product over making claims that don’t deliver or put consumers at risk. Luckily, it’s not difficult to avoid the three red flags reviewed in this article.
It all comes down to vetting your Bakuchiol supplier and formulating with Bakuchiol as intended.
#1. Ask for a Formulation Guide
Bakuchiol is easy to formulate with because it is heat stable. Some extracts aren’t heat stable, which can affect the stability of the final formula. Ask your potential supplier for a formulation guide to learn more about how it performs in a formula and how to use it in the best way.
#2. Stay in the Optimal Range
As mentioned, Bakuchiol should be used within the recommended range of 0.5-1.0% for maximum efficacy and safety. Levels as low as 0.2% may not provide efficacy, but it depends on the targeted benefit and capability of a brand to prove the efficacy at lower dose.
Exceeding 1.0% Bakuchiol content may cause skin irritation or be harmful for certain skin types.
#3. Ask for Clinical Study Data
Unfortunately, not all Bakuchiol has been backed by clinical data, and not every supplier is willing to provide study results. These are both red flags, so be sure to ask your potential supplier for data that defends its efficacy and safety.
It is important to note that each Bakuchiol grade is unique with its own toxicological signature, so safety data established for one ingredient is not transferable to other Bakuchiol products. Be sure to ask for proper safety data for that unique Bakuchiol product.
#4. Use Pure Bakuchiol
Using the purest Bakuchiol is the best way to avoid these red flags completely. The gold standard is 99%+ Bakuchiol.
A product can’t put “Bakuchiol” on the label if the ingredient is less than 95% Bakuchiol. Some brands may be tempted to use 97% pure Bakuchiol to save money and still be able to use the Bakuchiol INCI on the label. However, you will need to use more to deliver the right efficacy (canceling out any potential cost savings) while also introducing 3% more skin sensitizers, residual solvents, and other unknown ingredients. Every percent counts when it comes to safety and efficacy.
As Bakuchiol continues to rise in popularity in commercial skin care products, don’t exaggerate or cut corners with your Bakuchiol content like some of the brands we evaluated in our HPLC analysis. Low levels, impure extracts, and excessive levels will hurt your brand’s reputation and even the customers using your product. The best way to capitalize on this trend is by doing your diligence and creating a Bakuchiol product that’s truly effective, safe, and trustworthy.
Sytenol® A is the only 99%+ pure Bakuchiol that’s REACH registered, backed by peer-reviewed research, and accepted for use across the entire world (including China). To test our ingredient in your formulation, request a sample.