Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum
Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum is one of the better offerings from Herbivore’s lineup, thanks to its fragrance-free mix of ingredients that revive skin’s healthy appearance in a variety of ways.
Bakuchiol (Psoralea corylifolia seed) is the star of the show with research backing its anti-wrinkle and complexion-brightening properties, as well as its ability to improve skin’s smoothness as claimed.
If you’re curious why this is touted as a “retinol alternative,” it stems from the fact bakuchiol and retinol interact with many of the same areas in skin and offer similar benefits, although bakuchiol is thought to be better tolerated (less sensitizing) for some people. That said, the two ingredients are not identical (we can’t necessarily guarantee you’ll see the same results from bakuchiol as you would from retinol).
Another star ingredient of the formula is gluconolactone, which is a polyhydroxy acid (PHA). This formula’s pH of 3.64 is within the proper range to allow gluconolactone to work its exfoliating magic, at least if there were more of it present here. Because it appears after radish root ferment (which is typically used in amounts of 0.5%-2.5% in cosmetics), we’re confident the amount of gluconolactone is below 3%, which means you won’t likely see its skin-refining benefit. Research has shown the concentration of gluconolactone needs to be at least 3%, with amounts between 5–8% being ideal.
Next up, Herbivore touts the mushroom extract in this formula as a humectant that helps skin stay hydrated, which is absolutely true. This is joined by generous dose of aloe and glycerin, as well as other ingredients that work to enhance skin’s moisture content. More to love, significant antioxidants are sprinkled throughout the formula, offering skin-soothing properties as well as defense against environmental stressors.
On to the aesthetics, this serum’s fluid, silky-gel consistency glides on smoothly and is compatible with any skin type. You’ll notice it has a sheer lilac hue in the bottle, but this sheer coloration is imperceptible on skin.
All things considered, we’re fairly impressed by Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum! Other than the low amount of polyhydroxy acid, the only downside is that because this serum is packaged in a clear bottle, it needs to be stored away from light, as ongoing exposure will weaken many of the superstar ingredients this contains. We suggest keeping it tucked away in a closed drawer when not in use. As long as you adhere to that, this is a great formula to consider for healthier, smoother, younger-looking skin.
- Bakuchiol offers numerous anti-aging and complexion-enhancing properties.
- Contains a generous dose of hydration-boosting ingredients.
- Powerhouse antioxidants soothe skin and thwart negative effects of environmental stressors.
- Lightweight, gel-serum consistency absorbs imperceptibly and is compatible with all skin types.
- Fragrance free.
- Clear packaging needs to be stored away from light to protect the stability of superstar ingredients.
-Bakuchiol: Visibly smooths fine lines and wrinkles, refining the skin‘s overall appearance without the redness and irritation of retinol.
-Polyhydroxy Acids: Visibly resurface the skin, enhancing absorption while providing fortifying hydration and antioxidants.
-Tremella Mushroom: Hydrates and retains moisture by holding up to 500 times its own weight in water.
Herbivore Botanicals got its start when Julia Wills and her husband Alex Kummerow started making soap in their kitchen in Seattle in 2011. The couple began selling those soaps at local farmer’s markets, then opened up a shop on arts & crafts site Etsy. As the story goes, national retailers Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters reached out to the pair to sell their products in their stores. That led to beauty giant Sephora taking notice and a couple of years later, Herbivore proper was born.
Herbivore’s core philosophy is on natural skin care, a constantly growing market with a lot of interest. The brand’s site states that its products are chemical-free and non-toxic, though those terms aren’t meaningful (or, in the case of chemicals, accurate) descriptions. Nature is full of chemicals – water, after all, is a chemical! – so none of these products is chemical-free, and no skin care product sold in the U.S. is toxic when used as directed. In short, people aren’t dropping dead from skin care and makeup, despite the occasional dire reports alleging such likelihood.
Specific to Herbivore’s products, they offer moisturizers, toners and face mists, masks, exfoliants, facial oils, and scrubs. In line with many natural-themed brands, a daily sun protection product isn’t part of the mix (yet) even though it’s the most important skin care product you can use.
While most of the products have some positive antioxidant ingredients, all of them have fragrant components known to put skin at risk for irritation. Yes, these fragrances are naturally-derived (often from essential oils or flower extracts), but fragrance, regardless of its origin, is not good for skin.
Another issue is that clear packaging and jars are used for many Herbivore products, yet this type of packaging exposes the beneficial ingredients inside to light and air, reducing their effectiveness with each use.
While we appreciate Herbivore’s desire to bring naturally-derived skin care to the masses, it would be better if the brand skipped the fragrance and focused on the non-fragrant natural ingredients (and there are many of them!) that truly have benefit for skin. Ironically, many of the natural ingredient this brand uses do have some benefit for skin; it’s just that they also present risks. There are plenty of natural ingredients that only offer the good stuff, so our recommendation is not to compromise.
You can find out more about Herbivore at https://www.herbivorebotanicals.com/.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.