What Is Sytenol® A (Bakuchiol)? Your Guide to the Retinol Alternative

For decades, beauty brands have used retinol in their skincare products to combat acne and reduce signs of aging. Unfortunately, retinol can also cause scaling, irritation and stinging. That’s why brands and consumers alike have sought a retinol alternative that offers the same benefits without the negative side effects. Enter: Sytenol® A.

Sytenol® A: The True Natural Alternative to Retinol

Sytenol® A is a natural skincare ingredient that’s scientifically proven to reduce wrinkles, photoaging and hyperpigmentation. It works just as well as retinol, except for a few major differences:

  • Sytenol® A can be used during the day and night, while retinol can only be used at night.
  • Sytenol® A is compatible with sensitive skin, unlike retinol.
  • Sytenol® A is plant-based, while retinol is a synthetic derivative of vitamin A.

Because of these distinctions, Sytenol® A is viewed as the true natural alternative to retinol. What’s behind this powerhouse ingredient, and what makes it so special? Short answer: It’s all about Bakuchiol, and the fact that Sytenol® A is the only scientifically validated and worldwide accepted ingredient that’s 99%+ pure Bakuchiol.

What Is Bakuchiol?

Bakuchiol is a natural compound derived from the seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia plant, also known as the babchi plant. Bakuchiol was first isolated in 1966 by Mehta et al. from Babchi seed and was named after the plant’s Sanskrit name, Bakuchi.

In the beauty care industry, Bakuchiol is creating a real buzz because it does everything retinol can do while proving safe for sensitive skin. 

However, not all Bakuchiol is created equal. To achieve the desired benefits, purity matters. In fact, to use the INCI name Bakuchiol, the ingredient must be a highly defined active with over 99% purity. Anything lower (i.e., 99% purity) cannot list Bakuchiol on the label. If the ingredient lacks that threshold of purity, it can contain undefined by-products that are at best banned for use in personal care and at worst dangerous to consumers.  

Unfortunately, there are actives out there that claim to be Bakuchiol but do not comply with the INCI ingredient registered as Bakuchiol. 

Sytenol® A not only meets standards but also represents the standard in purity and safety. It’s REACH-registered and the only Bakuchiol approved for use in China, and most Bakuchiol-related research articles cite Sytenol® A. For example, a UC-Davis study published in the British Journal of Dermatology concluded that Sytenol® A matches the established benefits of retinol.

Let’s look at other characteristics that make Sytenol® A special.

Sytenol® A Characteristics

Sytenol® A possesses several notable characteristics that make it a desirable ingredient in skincare formulations:

  • Functional analog of retinol
  • Photochemically stable
  • Easy to incorporate into day and night treatments

Functional Analog of Retinol

The term “functional analog” highlights the fact that Sytenol® A can mimic or replicate the biological functions and effects of retinol on the skin. However, they are not entirely the same. For example, Sytenol® A is better tolerated and less likely to cause skin irritation or sensitivity compared to retinol. That’s why people who are looking for a retinol alternative find Sytenol® A appealing.

Photochemically Stable

An ingredient that’s photochemically stable can withstand degradation or changes in its chemical structure when exposed to light. Sytenol® A is known as a photochemically stable ingredient.

Easy to Incorporate Into Day & Night Treatments

Because Sytenol® A is photochemically stable, it can be easily used in day and night treatments while retaining its efficacy over time. This is in stark contrast with retinol, which is only recommended for nighttime treatments because it can make skin more sensitive to sunlight, which may increase the risk of UV-induced skin damage. Therefore, more and more beauty brands are adding Sytenol® A to their formulations instead of retinol.

Here’s how they’re doing that.

How to Use Sytenol® A In Your Product Line

Since Sytenol® A is safe for sensitive skin, it’s recommended for anyone to use. That’s welcome news, especially since Sytenol® A offers various applications:

  • Acne prevention
  • Anti-aging skincare
  • Skin protection

Acne Prevention

Sytenol® A has shown antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial for managing acne-prone skin. It helps reduce inflammation and inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria, making it a powerful ingredient in the fight against acne. Since Sytenol® A is non-irritating, it can be used by people with sensitive or oily skin.

Anti-Aging Skincare

Sytenol® A is widely used in anti-aging skincare products due to its ability to stimulate collagen production and other extracellular matrix proteins, reduce matrix-degrading metalloproteases, improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It’s often incorporated into serums, creams and moisturizers targeting mature or aging skin.

Skin Protection

Sytenol® A helps support the skin’s natural barrier function, which is crucial for protecting against external aggressors and maintaining moisture levels. A healthy skin barrier helps prevent water loss, shields the skin from environmental pollutants and minimizes the risk of irritation and sensitivity. Beauty products that contain Sytenol® A can help to support the skin’s barrier and keep out harmful pollutants.

You can also use Sytenol® A to mitigate ultraviolet (UV)-induced damage. Although it’s not a substitute for sunscreen, Sytenol® A helps reduce oxidative and inflammatory stress caused by UV radiation. Therefore, Sytenol® A provides additional support in defending the skin against environmental stressors.

There are many opportunities to incorporate Sytenol® A into your product line. However, the use of this natural ingredient begs the question: Can it coexist with sustainability goals? Short answer: Yes!

Is Sytenol® A Sustainable?

Sustainability in skincare is more than a trend right now – it’s a movement. As consumers demand, more and more beauty brands strive to use practices, ingredients and packaging that minimize negative impacts on the environment and promote long-term environmental, social and economic well-being.

Though Bakuchiol is naturally derived, less than 10% of available babchi seeds in the world are estimated to be used to make it. This rate of use means Sytenol® A can be included in a product formula that cares about sustainability. Bakuchiol is wild-harvested from the babchi plant, which is not endangered (and nowhere near it). This has been verified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, which includes the names of endangered animal, fungi and plant species. The babchi plant is noticeably absent from the list.


Sytenol® A is an innovative ingredient that offers the same benefits as retinol without the negative effects. When you need an active ingredient for your formulation that combats acne, reduces the signs of aging and protects the skin, you need Sytenol® A.

Sytheon offers a specialized portfolio of proven multifunctional ingredients supported by firsthand clinical data and vast technical expertise – including Sytenol® A. To test Sytenol® A with your formulation, request a sample.