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Science Review

Skincare Research

When it comes to scientific studies, makeup and skincare aren't nearly as well-researched as prescription drugs. One big reason is money—there's just not much funding available for cosmetics research, especially for natural ingredients that can't be patented. So, brands usually have to pay for their own studies. This means that research often focuses more on selling a product rather than unbiased findings.

Another issue is that the rules for cosmetics are much less strict than for medicines. Medicines have to go through tough tests and get approved by government agencies, but cosmetics don't. This doesn't encourage brands to invest in quality research. However, there are some promising changes. For example, some brands are starting to team up with colleges for research, and some are even exploring crowd-funding options.

So, what can we do as shoppers or people who make skincare products? First, it's important to understand that the existing research has its limits. Second, take the information that is available as a starting point, not as final proof. Thanks to social media, consumers are getting smarter and asking for more information, which could push brands to conduct better studies. In the meantime, things like customer reviews and before-and-after photos can offer some useful, though not foolproof, insights.

In short, the world of cosmetics research has a long way to go. It's full of challenges like limited funding, biased studies, and loose regulations. But consumer demand and some innovative partnerships are starting to make things better. Until things improve, though, it's best to consider any existing research as a work in progress.

Bakuchiol Studies

Bakuchiol is one ingredient that has mounting evidence of its effectiveness. The bakuchiol studies published are very encouraging and there is more and more anecdotal evidence, such as before and after photos, growing as well. As we get more supporting information about bakuchiol results, in the form of both published research and consumer reports, we can increase our trust level for what we see.

When comparing bakuchiol vs retinol head-to-head, bakuchiol is thought to be comparable. However, due to the many issues with skincare studies discussed above, and due to the fact that retinol data goes back to the 1980's (while bakuchiol is much newer), accepting bakuchiol results still requires some degree of skepticism.

However, and this is key, if you are someone who cannot (or will not) use retinoids, then the bakuchiol results are exceedingly important on your quest for effective alternatives.

The following is a comprehensive review of all available bakuchiol studies. This table will be updated as more bakuchiol results become available.

Bakuchiol Results

All studies performed on animals or in-vitro (ie. cell cultures, fibroblasts, skin substitutes) were omitted. Only bakuchiol studies performed on actual humans are reported below:

Study Design


-prospective, blinded

-12 weeks, 44 people

-bakuchiol 0.5% vs retinol 0.5%

-twice a day on the face

-average age 47; most female (3 male)

-both groups: wrinkle reduction

-both groups: pigmentation reduction

-retinol group: flaking, redness, itch, burn, sting

-bakuchiol group: no reactions



-3 side-by-side patches

-4 weeks, 52 people

-bakuchiol 0.5% vs retinol 0.15% vs control vehicle

-twice a day on forearm

-suction blisters were created

-blister fluid extracted for analysis

-average age 51; all female

-multiple dropouts for retinol reactions

-retinol area: 12 reactions (red, flake, itch)

-bakuchiol area: 1 reaction

-control vehicle: 1 reaction (same person)

-both groups: higher fibronectin levels

(protein for healing and cell repair)


-prospective, blinded

-split face comparison

-12 weeks, 34 people

-bakuchiol 0.5% vs untreated

-average age 56, all female

-bakuchiol area: more youthful, better than baseline

-bakuchiol area: no reactions


Table completion in progress


1. Dhaliwal S, Rybak I, Ellis SR, Notay M, Trivedi M, Burney W, Vaughn AR, Nguyen M, Reiter P, Bosanac S, Yan H, Foolad N, Sivamani RK. Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing. Br J Dermatol. 2019 Feb;180(2):289-296.

2. Bluemke A, Ring AP, Immeyer J, Hoff A, Eisenberg T, Gerwat W, Meyer F, Breitkreutz S, Klinger LM, Brandner JM, Sandig G, Seifert M, Segger D, Rippke F, Schweiger D. Multidirectional activity of bakuchiol against cellular mechanisms of facial ageing - Experimental evidence for a holistic treatment approach. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2022 Jun;44(3):377-393.