If you’re looking to rejuvenate your skin and achieve a brighter, more even skin tone, alpha arbutin may be the solution you’ve been searching for.


What is alpha arbutin?

Alpha arbutin is a plant-derived skincare ingredient that acts as a skin brightener, to even the skin tone and lighten dark spots. Arbutin is a naturally occurring chemical found in some botanical extracts like bearberry, cranberry, and Japanese pear. A natural variant of hydroquinone, arbutin helps brighten dark spots. It does this by limiting the activity of tyrosinase, an enzyme present in melanocytes, which are the pigment-producing cells in the skin.

Unlike hydroquinone which is controversial for severe sensitivity, photosensitivity, and irritation issues, alpha arbutin’s side effects (if any) are much less severe. This is because with alpha arbutin, hydroquinone is slowly released into the skin. It’s the reason why so many of the most effective brightening products on the market include alpha arbutin. It is a well-tolerated ingredient, in combination with vitamin C, AHAs and retinol. Not only does it play well with other brightening ingredients, but combining these ingredients can speed up results. That is why many skincare products combine them into a single formula – an effective, skin-brightening cocktail.


Skincare benefits

Arbutin works by stopping dark spots from forming. It works to inhibit tyrosinase, unlike exfoliators which slough off surface level pigment, or other antioxidants which fight free radical damage resulting in a brighter appearance overall. It works primarily by stopping melanin from concentrating in certain parts of the skin. While we need a certain amount of melanin in our skin, like to protect against cellular damage from UV light exposure, concentrated melanin formation can contribute to skin issues, such as age spots and scars.


Takeaways on alpha arbutin
  • Helps treat age spots, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone.
  • May fade acne scars, dark spots, and discoloration.
  • Generally safe for all skin types, it may be tolerated by those with sensitive skin better than other anti-aging or brightening treatments. It is also effective with darker skin tones who are more prone to hyperpigmentation.
  • On the market combos to look for in skin-lightening ingredients and toners – retinoids, niacinamide, glycolic acid, azelaic acid and hyaluronic acid.
  • Look for alpha arbutin skincare products containing up to 2% concentration alpha arbutin, and use the product consistently for at least one to two months for results.
  • Note alpha arbutin is not the same thing as beta-arbutin, which is a cheaper version and less effective.
  • Can be used on your skin twice daily, with best results on cleansed skin – morning and night followed with a moisturizer and putting on sunscreen if during the daytime.
  • No brightening skincare routine is complete without sunscreen. Make sure you are wearing sunscreen daily – rain or shine, to fade hyperpigmentation and to prevent new dark spots from forming – or you will be fighting a losing battle.

Alpha arbutin is an incredibly potent skin-lightening ingredient that can leave your skin looking radiant and evenly toned with daily use. By layering it with other active ingredients, you can enhance its properties and tackle more priorities on your skincare wish list.

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