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Plant-Derived Alternative Ingredients in Korean Skincare

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Whether you're making a conscious effort to incorporate more plant-based skincare in your daily self-care routines, or you're simply intrigued to find out about some of the beloved plant-derived ingredients surfacing in K-Beauty, you've come to the right place. For today, we will be taking a closer look at Bakuchiol, Squalane and Resveratrol – three ingredients which you've probably encountered before, but don’t necessarily recognise by name.



A Vegan ingredient naturally present in the leaves and seeds of Psoralea Corylifolia (Babchi). The use of this botanical extract stems from Chinese medical practices. Bakuchiol possesses a high concentration of antioxidants which we’ve discussed the importance of numerous times over on Kōsame blog. It is known for being a multi-functional ingredient for:

  • Reducing skin discolouration as a result of moderate to excessive exposure to environmental factors, including high levels of air pollutants and UV rays
  • It supplies a pronounced skin soothing effect desired by easily reactive skin types
  • Eliminates toxins that accumulate on the surface of skin. Some would suggest that Bakuchiol be used as a natural alternative to Retinol, as Retinol tends to be less tolerable for some skin types. With prolonged and consistent use Bakuchiol can smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, whilst restoring skin’s firmness.

If you don’t want to entirely substitute Bakuchiol for Retinol as your main source of anti-ageing skincare, it’s encouraged these ingredients be used in conjunction as Bakuchiol stabilises Retinol; thus lessening the chance of side effects commonly caused by Retinol. Remember, even if you decide to rely on using Bakuchiol to stabilise Retinol, Retinol should be introduced into skincare routines in increments. Not all skin types can handle 2% Retinol. Always consult a professional for guidance.

For a similar reason, Bakuchiol pairs well with leave-on AHA and BHA exfoliants (in the form of toners, serums, ampoules, creams, etc.) to minimise the likelihood that daily use of AHA/BHA will irritate skin when exposed to UV rays. Still, we strongly promote and advise the use of daily SPF!

Bakuchiol doesn’t target the source of acne and therefore isn’t regarded as a treatment for acne. However, the skin calming properties of the ingredient can certainly help to subside the redness and inflammation associated with acne-prone skin. 



Often sourced from grapes, Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant used in skincare products for many skin types and skin concerns including mature skin. In Korean and other Asian skincare, Resveratrol is now more commonly sourced from Japanese Knotweed – this mostly contains trans-resveratrol which is more easily absorbed by the skin and body.

Have you heard about the theory of how drinking a glass of wine each day is good for your health? This theory relates to Resveratrol as a powerful antioxidant and it’s role in warning off free-radicals in our environment which entire out bodies. Naturally, Korean skincare brands extended this practice into the beauty industry by creating wine skincare lines and those similar. Resveratrol doesn’t just tackle oxidative particles:

  • It is chemically linked to Salicylic Acid, removing dead skin cells from the surface of skin to reveal a brighter and revitalised complexion
  • Simulates healthy cell proliferation
  • Improves the natural functions of fibroblast responsible for the production of healthy collagen.

The Dr. Althea Resveratrol 345NA Intensive Repair Cream addresses a wide range of needs common among depleted skin types.


When stabilised, Squalane is an exceptional occlusive emollient and hydrator. It’s popularity has resurfaced as more people are aware that it is naturally produced by skin’s oil glands to maintain the moisture barrier. Squalane, with an a, is Squalene that has go through the Hydrogenation process. This process is essential to prevent oxidization, therefore transforming the ingredient into its more stable form.

Plant-sourced Squalene can be extracted from grape seeds, walnuts, macadamia, pistachios, olives and soybeans to condition all skin types.

Other abilities and uses:

  • Mainly used in moisturising creams and in oil form to improve the luminosity of dull skin types, or ageing skin which lack vitality due to the slower production of natural Squalene after the age of 30.
  • Squalane is non-comedogenic and a low-irritant ingredient, making it suitable for all skin types.

A good starting point for introducing Squalane into your skincare routine is through sheet masking. We suggest the Dr. Althea Premium Squalane Silk Mask for its ability to improve skin elasticity and refine skin texture.


Emma Moseley from SimplyEm's Blog

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