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Bakuchiol vs Bakuchi Oil: Unveiling the Difference and Why it Matters in Skin Care & Formulating

Bakuchiol has been showing up in skin care lately and with good reason. It's touted as a plant based alternative to retinol but without the potential side effects such as drying, peeling, redness, and discomfort.

I discussed some of the benefits of bakuchiol (such as improving skin texture and tone, reducing the appearance of fine lines, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits) in a previous blog post and in this post I'd like to discuss a point of confusion for both consumers and formulators. Bakuchiol vs Bakuchi oil.

Simply put bakuchiol is a compound that is purified from the seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia or Cullen corylifolium plant. The seeds, roots, and leaves of the plant have long been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic traditional medicine practices and contain many beneficial compounds.

Bakuchiol extract is typically 99% pure and research suggests it can stimulate collagen production, improve skin elasticity, and improve skin texture and tone. It may also offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that help soothe and protect the skin, making it beneficial for reducing redness or soothing blemishes. It is one of a multitude of beneficial compounds found in the seeds of the P. corylifolia plant.

Bakuchi oil (also know as babchi oil) is a carrier or vegetable oil that is cold pressed from the seeds of the P. corylifolia plant. Like other plant oils it is rich in fatty acids and oil soluble compounds. Bakuchi oil may contain bakuchiol but in lower concentrations that the extract. Bakuchi oil may contain from 1 to 10% bakuchiol depending on the supplier, along with other compounds.(1)

One concern with bakuchi oil is the potential for the cold pressed oil to contain phytotoxic compounds such as psoralen, isopsoralen, and angelicin. These compounds can potentially contribute to increasing melanin production in the skin or increased risk of the skin burning and blistering.

These compounds may prove useful in supporting the skin in the case of psoriasis, eczema, or vitiligo but can be problematic in skin care products. (1)

So what is a formulator or customer wishing to try bakuchiol to do? Reputable suppliers and knowledge is key. As with all plant extracts, herbs, and essential oils, you can't know what's in the bottle if it isn't tested or verified by suppliers and the INCI name is key.

If a product is labeled correctly bakuchiol extract that is 99% pure should be listed as bakuchiol, while bakuchi oil should be listed as Psoralea Corylifolia Seed Oil. While the seed oil is amazing, it contains a small percentage of bakuchiol. And when further diluted in a product the amount of bakuchiol is likewise diluted.

For example, if the oil contains only 3% bakuchiol and is used at 5% in a formulations, the actual amount of bakuchiol is only 0.15% (.05 x 3 = 0.15). While a 99% pure solution of bakuchiol used at 1% is about 1% pure bakuchiol (.01 x 99 = 0.99).

Bakuchiol as a purified extract is not photo toxic. It offers many wonderful benefits in skin and hair care but without the drawbacks of retinol. Bakuchi or babchi oil typically contains smaller amounts of bakuchiol (from 1 to 10%) , but also contains other compounds, some of which can potentially be phytotoxic. So it's important to know what's in the bottle of bakuchi oil so to speak.

When using bakuchi oil be sure to check the certificate of analysis (COA) to know the percentage of bakuchiol and check supplier recommendations for usage rates and guidelines to determine safe use rates and if there are known or suspected phototoxic compounds.

The purified extract is easiest to work with but costly. It ranges from $98 per oz to $1300 per kg. It's typically used at 0.5 to 1%. The cold pressed oil is less expensive, but be sure to check the COA and supplier guidelines for use.

Products we create with bakuchiol currently include our Bakuchiol Serum.

Have you formulated with bakuchiol or bakuchi oil? What are your thoughts?

  1. National Website of Medicine Website, Psoralea corylifolia L: Ethnobotanical, biological, and chemical aspects: A review, accessed from:


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