As an acne sufferer, you’re probably already very familiar with benzoyl peroxide, one of the most commonly utilized (yet harshest) ingredients in top selling over-the-counter acne treatments. You might not have heard about bakuchiol though, the next acne fighting breakthrough technology that’s making a big splash in the skin care industry.
Does bakuchiol truly hold promise for treating acne blemishes?
When it comes to acne blemish-fighting ingredients in skin care products, the exotic-sounding bakuchiol has several characteristics that separate it from traditional OTC acne ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which have both proven to be effective in treating acne.
Here’s an overview of bakuchiol, how it’s flown under the radar for so long, and the clinical evidence showing why this naturally-derived ingredient is so effective in treating acne blemishes:
- Overview of Bakuchiol
- Bakuchiol’s Effect on Acne
- Clinical Study of Bakuchiol
- How Can Bakuchiol Heal Acne Scarring?
- Bakuchiol’s Effect on PIH
Overview of Bakuchiol
Bakuchiol (pronounced buh-KOO-chee-all), also known by its scientific name Psoralea corylifolia, is a plant-based compound derived from the bakuchi seed.
Unlike the most common OTC acne-fighting ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, bakuchiol is a naturally occurring compound that’s been used for centuries in Chinese and Indian medicine to cure a number of skin disorders, including eczema and dermatitis.
Bakuchiol works as an anti-oxidant to counteract free radicals that cause skin cell damage and has an FDA classification of Category 1, which is considered “safe for general use”. While a few early studies have indicated that bakuchiol has the potential to be an effective anti-aging agent, there is no published clinical evidence validating bakuchiol’s anti-aging effectiveness within topical applications just yet.
Bakuchiol’s Effect on Acne
One of the reasons for the enthusiasm about bakuchiol is that it is thought to be a triple-threat when it comes to addressing the causes of acne blemishes.
- Anti-microbial properties.Researchers believe that bakuchiol targets the bacteria that clogs pores and helps to cause acne breakouts. This property is so powerful that it’s even been shown to work against streptococcus bacterium, the bacteria that cause strep throat, scarlet fever, and impetigo.
- Calms Redness. Acne is part of your body’s inflammatory response to the dirt and bacteria that accumulates inside pores. The results include blemishes and reddened, sensitive skin. Bakuchiol helps to diminish the appearance of redness, bringing relief to affected areas of your complexion.
- Anti-scarring. This is the advantage that sets bakuchiol apart from other skin care compounds. It has been shown to help reduce the hyperpigmentation that often accompanies acne scars.
State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn performed a 16-week study on 13 acne patients between 12 and 30 years old with a topical bakuchiol cream. Participants had been off of topical treatments for at least two weeks, off antibiotics for 30 days and off oral retinoids for two years.
At the end of the trial period, seven of the patients saw more than a 35 percent decrease in total inflammatory acne lesions, while five had the same reduction in non-inflammatory lesions. Out of the 12 individuals with acne scarring, seven were found to be clear or nearly clear of scars.
Bakuchiol is a naturally derived ingredient that has been used for hundreds of years to quickly and gently resolve skin ailments from pimples to visible signs of aging. The challenge with bakuchiol in treating acne has always been the inability of acne treatment products to effectively deliver bakuchiol as a “solubilized” or transferrable ingredient that can go deeper into skin pores to treat and neutralize acne well below the surface of the skin.
How Can Bakuchiol Heal Acne Scarring?
What sets bakuchiol further apart from other traditional OTC acne treatment ingredients is its ability to treat and help remove the effects of acne scarring. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, refers to the dark brown or pink spots that are often left behind after acne lesions have healed. These macules, which are small spots of discoloration on the skin, are most common in areas affected by frequent breakouts in the same affected areas that have little chance to heal in between outbreaks.
PIH really has little to do with the acne lesions themselves and more to do with your body’s inflammatory response, which triggers the body to produce excess melanin, which is the pigment responsible for your skin color. Tanning actually triggers similar response where skin overproduces melanin as means to protect the skin against sun damage.
Bakuchiol’s Effect on PIH
Bakuchiol lessens PIH in two ways:
- Its anti-inflammatory like properties work to soothe irritated skin, reducing the probability that skin will over-produce melanin.
- Suppresses the skin’s production of melanin.
Scientists at Keio University in Japan conducted a study that demonstrated this effect on melanoma cells in mice. Another study performed on acne patients in the United States involved the use of a topical bakuchiol cream. After 16 weeks, more than half of the participants experienced partial or complete reduction in PIH.
The bottom line is that bakuchiol is an all-natural botanical and one of the best natural acne treatment ingredients available anywhere in the marketplace to help effectively treat acne blemishes. Talk to your dermatologist to help you decide if acne treatment products that utilize bakuchiol should be part of your skin care and acne treatment regimen.