Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating How to work with Bakuchiol, alpha arbutin and kojic acid

  • How to work with Bakuchiol, alpha arbutin and kojic acid

    Posted by Heath0o7 on June 3, 2024 at 12:48 am

    Hi all,

    I’ve never worked with Bakuchiol, Alpha Arbutin & Kojic Acid before, but I’ve read about them and there seem to be a big hype about them. I thought I’d reach out for help in figuring out what would be a good starting percentage to trial them in a serum, face cream and face peel.

    I thought I’d add Bakuchiol in my face cream and add the arbutin in my serum and the KA in my Glycolic acid face peel.

    What I need help with:

    1. What is the optimal pH range for Bakuchiol? And would 1.5% Bakuchiol be a good starting point in a face cream?

    2. What would be the optimal pH range for AA in a serum? AND would 1.8% be a good starting point or best to start low like 1%?

    3. I read that KA functions best around pH of 3.5, is that true? If so, I thought of including it in my Glycolic acid face peel where the pH is 3.0

    As to the reasons why I’m including them in my skincare, it’s because I have mild hyperpigmentation and would like to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. I read that they can help with that and could take 2-3 months to see the results.

    Thanks for the help in advance! 😊

    KukuiNut replied 1 week, 6 days ago 7 Members · 12 Replies
  • 12 Replies
  • hidden-123

    June 4, 2024 at 7:04 am

    I think browsing on UL prospector and special chem will benefit you.

    • Heath0o7

      June 4, 2024 at 8:35 am

      Appreciate the recommendation, unfortunately, because I’m an amateur formulator I can’t sign up to these website to view most of the information there. I only Formulate for personal use

  • Perry44

    June 5, 2024 at 9:05 am

    I’ll start by telling you that an ingredient like Bakuchiol is primarily a “claims” ingredient. It is put in formulas at tiny levels just so marketing people (and the media, bloggers, etc.) have something to talk about. The ingredient does not actually have a consumer noticeable impact on performance. That is why the real answer to all your questions is “do whatever you want because it doesn’t really matter.”

    But if we pretend it does matter, here are my thoughts.

    1. The reported pH range should be pH 5.5 - 6.5. This supposedly maximizes stability but honestly, there is little evidence to prove this is true. A level of 1.5% is a fine enough starting point. If you want to save money, 0.15% is enough too.

    2. The supposed optimal pH range for AA is 3.0 - 3.5. It needs to be in the acid form to “work” so this makes sense. 1.8% or 1.0% likely makes no difference. The AA will steadily oxidize in your formula so after a couple days you won’t have any active AA in it whether you use 1.8% or 1.0%.

    3. Again, this is just a number someone writes in a paper. Without knowing what you mean by “functions best” it’s hard to say. I can say whether it’s at pH 3.5 or pH 3.0 or 4.5, you personally won’t notice any difference. It’s not an ingredient that provides consumer perceptible differences in my opinion.

    In truth, the best thing you can do for your skin is moisturize daily and use sunscreen. None of these “active ingredients” will have a noticeable impact on your fine lines and wrinkles beyond what a moisturizer is going to do. You also won’t remember what your face looked like 2 or 3 months ago. If you’ve done all the work of applying product daily and you’re paying more attention to your face, of course you’re going to think that it looks better. In truth, it probably looks the same.

    However, if the routine of using products and paying attention to your face makes you feel better and think it looks better, than keep doing what you’re doing. Reality does not matter as much as how you feel.

    • Graillotion

      June 6, 2024 at 12:04 am

      Thank you for saying this, as you may have shaved years off of a frustrating journey. In our societies where we are inundated with marketing stories…whom seek to blend fact with fiction, it is often difficult for those starting out, to be able to realize not everything is as it seems. 😉

      The reason the government allows people to play in cosmetics without much in the way of regulation….is because beyond a few things like moisturization, they are not doing much. If they actually did…they would quickly move into the drug category.

      Good luck.

    • Heath0o7

      June 6, 2024 at 3:03 am

      There was this study comparing Retinol and bakuchiol effect on facial aging from NCBI where it claims there are benefits to it. Here’s the link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9328396/

      • Perry44

        June 6, 2024 at 8:22 am

        That was an excellent reply and I’m very glad you linked a study that has convinced you. But in my view, this study is nothing more than an academic exercise with the sole purpose of generating a marketing story for brands & companies that use Bakuchiol in their products.

        Before I get into the details, lest you think I’m just a cynic, there is a very simple study that could be conducted to demonstrate Bakuchiol (or any other anti-aging active ingredient) is effective.

        The study that should be done

        First, get a group of at least 100 people. Then give 50 of them an excellent moisturizer with no special active ingredients in it. Just standard emollients, humectants, occlusives, etc. Make it smell and feel great. Then give another 50 people that same formula but with the 1.5% Bakuchiol or any other active in there. Then, on a blinded basis, have the people use the product for 3 months and report back on the results. If the test group reported better satisfaction then Hurray! We’re on our way to proving something useful. This is such a simple study it makes me wonder…why hasn’t someone done this?

        I’ll tell you why. Because if they did this, they would not get any positive results. People just don’t notice differences that these ingredients are claiming to affect.

        What does the study you linked do?

        Instead of running the test I suggested above they first try to prove Bakuchiol is an antioxidant, and they do. I say…So what? Why should a consumer care that Bakuchiol is an antioxidant just like thousands of other materials they could use?

        They tested “wound healing” which is a drug effect so not a cosmetic, but ok, they did a half face study comparing Bakuchiol to NO treatment. Why not compare it to a good moisturizer? Because if they did, they would have gotten no positive results.

        Then they look at proteins and genetic markers and report all these things and again I’m left saying…so what?

        Where is the study that looks specifically at the way you are going to use the product?

        It doesn’t exist. My contention is that it is such a simple study to run they either…

        1. Ran the study and didn’t have any positive data to share

        2. Didn’t run the study because they don’t really want to learn that it doesn’t do anything more than a moisturizer.

        This is exactly how research works in the cosmetic industry. It is not real science because it’s not done to find out what is true. It is done to verify what the researchers want to be true.

      • Graillotion

        June 6, 2024 at 11:39 pm

        Ahh….the classic ‘cosmetic study’…. please understand, I am giggling so hard…it is hard to stay in my recliner.

        There is pretty much a ‘study’ for every cosmetic ingredient that is backed by a company that can afford a study. Dr Michelle Wong actually did a really good piece (slightly different topic…but exact same line of thought) where she spends a LOT of the time…. focusing on what gets presented as peer reviewed scientific studies. If you interested in educating yourself…take the 28 minutes to watch her video. The topic is about another magical ingredients….and what ends up getting references (studies)….as something legit.

        Please enjoy her video…. will help you understand what you’re up against….a bit better: (memba…don’t let the topic throw you….she spend a lot of the video…focusing on how things are presented in the industry.


        Rosemary oil for hair growth? How to spot bad science (youtube.com)

      • Graillotion

        June 8, 2024 at 3:54 pm

        Maybe this little piece of perspective will help.

        The entities in society that are tasked with your well being ….wait for it …. have NO INTEREST in cosmetics….and how you look. 😉 Hence those entities tend to focus on cancer…and major health issues. FOCUS = FUNDING. So….if those tasked with societal research don’t care about cosmetics….whom is left….you know…who is doing the studies on cosmetics? Simple…..those with a vested financial interest, that stand to gain. So, you have just established that the fox is guarding the chicken house.

        Will let you put the rest of the pieces in place. 😉

  • Story

    June 6, 2024 at 1:17 pm

    I’ll throw my 2 cents here. I agree with Perry’s suggested study of 100 people. I respectfully disagree with Perry’s claims that Bakuchiol is just a marketing scheme. Yes there are bakuchiols out there that are so diluted that’s not effective, however the real thing is oil soluble.

    I formulate with Bakuchiol from Sytheon, it’s 99% concentrated, I use 2% in my formulation. If you use it directly on your skin, it will burn and you’ll get mild skin burn.

    Here’s the Chemical name: Phenol, 4- [(1E, 3S)-3-ethenyl-3, 7 -dimethyl-1,6-octadienyl]

    I have been using this Bakuchiol in a face oil and yes, I see a difference: Softer fine lines and faded acne scars. Obviously, it is not as powerful as prescription retinol, but it definitely does more than a moisturizer.

    • Perry44

      June 6, 2024 at 2:38 pm

      Disagreement in science is good! It is difficult to have an experience where you come to a conclusion about what is going on and not feel compelled to accept the explanation.

      But I’m reminded of a Feynman quote about science and discovering what’s true.

      The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

      Bakuchiol may very well have positive effects that are beyond what a moisturizer could provide. But without scientific, blinded, controlled studies, I remain skeptical.

  • ketchito

    June 7, 2024 at 6:43 am

    I totally agree with @Perry44 . And that’s the resonan the gold standard in clinical trials is to have it double-blinded, since even the researcher himself could be biased. Bias is one of the best tools ingredients suppliers use to sell their


  • KukuiNut

    July 4, 2024 at 9:00 pm

    Is this also true about the alpha-arbutin and the kojic acid? Are they also more or less ineffectual??

    Or do they work at percentages that we are not allowed to legally use them at?

    I know that there are no extracts that truly work because if they did they would not be legal to sell.. Graillotion open my eyes to this a couple of years ago and as disheartening as it was, it also saved me a lot of time and money.

    If there were things we could make that actually affected the aging process, they would automatically be considered drugs and therefore not legal for us to make or sell.

    But I am still curious about the Kojic acid and AA.


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