Can bakuchiol be used as an alternative agent for sun protection?
Domina Petric, MD
Bakuchiol is an extract derived from the leaves and seeds of the babchi plant. It is widely used
to treat acne, melasma, photoaging and hyperpigmentation. Unlike retinol, bakuchiol helps to
make skin less sensitive to the sun´s rays. It is also reported that bakuchiol has chemo-
preventive properties. Bakuchiol might be used as alternative agent for sun protection, but
more research is necessary.
Bakuchiol is an extract derived from the
leaves and seeds of the babchi plant
). Bakuchiol has
become a popular ingredient in skincare
products. It has widely been marketed to
treat acne, melasma, photoaging, and
hyperpigmentation. Studies have shown
functional similarities to retinoids without
the limiting side effects, such as erythema,
burning, and stinging
Bakuchiol is a
phytochemical that has demonstrated
cutaneous antiaging effects when applied
topically. Results of a study (Dhaliwal et
al, 2019) demonstrate that bakuchiol is
comparable with retinol in its ability to
improve photoaging and is better tolerated
than retinol. Unlike retinol which can make
the skin more sensitive to the sun,
bakuchiol helps to make skin less sensitive
to the sun´s harmful rays
Another study (Kim et al, 2016) results
report the chemopreventive properties of
bakuchiol, which acts by inhibiting
epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced
neoplastic cell transformation. Bakuchiol
also decreased viability and inhibited
anchorage-independent growth of A431
human epithelial carcinoma cells.
Bakuchiol reduced A431 xenograft tumor
growth in an in vivo mouse model. Using
kinase profiling, authors identified Hck,
Blk and p38 mitogen activated protein
kinase (MAPK) as targets of bakuchiol,
which directly bound to each kinase in an
ATP-competitive manner. Bakuchiol also
inhibited EGF-induced signaling pathways
downstream of Hck, Blk and p38 MAPK,
including the MEK/ERKs, p38
MAPK/MSK1 and AKT/p70S6K
pathways. These findings indicate that
bakuchiol exhibits potent anticancer
activity by targeting Hck, Blk and p38
Classic sunscreens often contain some
toxic chemicals, which can paradoxically
increase the risk of skin cancer, instead of
lowering that risk.
Examples of toxic chemicals
1. Derivatives of benzophenone, such as
benzophenone-2 (BP2) and oxybenzone
(benzophenone-3 or BP3) are common
ingredients in sunscreen.
Benzophenone is persistent,
bioaccumulative and toxic
2. Ethanolamine compounds can also be
found in suncreens. The European
diethanolamine (DEA) in cosmetics, to
reduce contamination from carcinogenic
nitrosamines that are formed after the
reaction of DEA with other ingredients.
3. Homosalate is a widely used chemical in
sunscreens and skin care products with sun
protecting factor (SPF). It is a potential
endocrine disruptor (impacts androgen and
progesterone systems) and it may enhance
the absorption of pesticides in the body.
In human breast cancer cells homosalate
exposure led to 3.5 times more cell growth
4. Heavy metals such as lead, arsenic,
mercury, aluminum, zinc, chromium and
iron can also be found in some sunscreens.
Octinoxate is an UV filter found in hair
color products and shampoos, sunscreens,
lipsticks, nail polish, and skin creams.
Octinoxate increases cell proliferation in
cells that grow in response to estrogen
exposure what can increase the risk of
6. PABA (para-amino benzoic acid) and
PABA derivatives are commonly used in
sunscreens as ultraviolet B (UVB) filters.
UV radiation is more likely to damage
DNA in the presence of PABA, and DNA
damage to the skin increases the risk of
7. Styrene acrylates copolymer and related
styrene-based polymers are most often
found in nail polish, sunscreen (SPF
greater than 30), sunscreen moisturizers,
body wash/cleansers, shampoos and
eyeliners. These products can be
contaminated with styrene which is
possible human carcinogen.
8. Titanium dioxide is used in a variety of
personal care products, including
sunscreens, pressed powders, and loose
powders, as a UV filter or whitening
agent. Inhalable titanium dioxide (in
powders) is considered to be possible
human carcinogen (IARC).
Considering the results of available studies
on bakuchiol, which demonstrated its sun-
protective and chemo-preventive
properties, bakuchiol might be used as an
alternative agent for sun protection, but
more research is necessary.
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