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34 ascp skin deep january/february 2020 expertadvice INGREDIENTS Meek But Mighty Why bakuchiol is being touted as a gentle alternative to retinoids by Lauren Snow What if one of the most effective antiaging and acne-fighting ingredients has been hidden under our noses for thousands of years? That may be the case for bakuchiol, a meek but mighty alternative to retinol. Stretching across the plains of India, dense purple flowers with brown, kidney-shaped seeds adorn the stocky green leaves of the Babchi plant. This indigenous plant, Psoralea corylifolia, grows in India's semi-arid climate and has also been found in the Himalayas.1 The plant and its seeds have been used as a remedy by the Hindi people of India for centuries. WHAT IS BAKUCHIOL? In ayurveda, the traditional Hindu system of medicine, the Babchi plant holds an impressive resume as one of the most trusted herbs. Because of its diverse and prevailing ailment-fighting properties, the plant is purported to be a therapy for a range of diseases across nearly all systems of the human body. The Babchi plant is currently being extensively studied in pharmacology for its chemoprotective, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.2 The seeds and oil from the Babchi plant are particularly interesting for esthetics purposes. They are called Kushtaghni in ayurveda, which means "skin disease remedy." For thousands of years, it has been used topically for the treatment of ringworm, scabies, boils, eczema, dermatitis, and even leukoderma and vitiligo— both conditions that suppress melanin production. Modern medicine is just discovering what the Hindis have known for a long time—the Babchi plant has some pretty amazing qualities and capabilities. Bakuchiol, a compound extracted from the potent seeds and leaves of the Babchi plant, is gaining fresh momentum as the gentler alternative to retinol. And while bakuchiol shares no structural resemblance to retinoids, it does share the spotlight in efficacy.

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