You know how words start to sound weird if you say them a bunch of times? Well, bakuchiol is like that — only it kind of sounds weird all the time. Bakuchiol. Bakuchiol. Jokes aside, the ingredient itself doesn’t mess around. The plant-based retinol alternative has exploded in popularity as people seek out gentler (and sometimes vegan) products for smooth, glowing skin.

“Bakuchiol is an antioxidant found in the seeds of the plant Psoralea corylifolia,” New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD., tells Allure. “It has a long history in medicine for its healing properties, including soothing rashes, calming redness, and healing cuts.”

It has similar effects on complexions, too. Like traditional retinols, the benefits of incorporating bakuchiol into your skin-care routine can include smoother texture, less hyperpigmentation, and restored elasticity. “Bakuchiol, like retinol, works by increasing cell turnover, thereby stimulating collagen production and diminishing wrinkles, skin laxity, and overall photodamage,” explains dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD.

The only difference is retinols are known for being especially harsh and drying for those with sensitive skin, and bakuchiol is less irritating. “It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties shown not only to stimulate collagen production but also to be more gentle on the skin and so may be better tolerated by those with dry sensitive skin,” explains Shari Marchbein, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

Because of these properties, it’s also recommended for oily or acne-prone skin types. Another bonus: Unlike retinols, bakuchiol is completely safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Consider these 17 serums, moisturizers, and oils your crash course in all-things bakuchiol.

Ready to feel more confident when reading your beauty products’ ingredient labels? Enter, the Allure Ingredient Index. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the most in-demand (and under-the-radar) ingredients in your favorite skin-care products.

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