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Everything You Need to Know About Alpha Arbutin

a woman applying alpha arbutin serum on her face

Alpha Arbutin for Dark Spots & Pigmentation

If you have been dealing with age spots and skin discolouration, you might be familiar with some of the big names in brightening ingredients - Vitamin C, Licorice extract, and kojic acid, all of which are proven to be great skin brighteners. Let us introduce you to the hidden hero of spot fading and skin brightening - Alpha Arbutin.

Lots of products promise to brighten and even out the skin tone but they can be harsh on the skin, particularly for sensitive skin. But Alpha Arbutin; is an ingredient that is safe for all skin types.

What Exactly Is Alpha Arbutin?

Arbutin is naturally found in plant sources such as Bearberry, Mulberry, and Cranberry, which essentially prevents the formation of melanin.

The chemically synthesized version of this plant extract is known as Alpha Arbutin which is used as an amazing skin brightening agent to treat sun spots, scars and pigmentation caused by sun damage and breakouts.

It also has antioxidant properties, which protect the skin from counter sun damage. Along with Retinol, it is a fairly common ingredient in anti-aging products to treat fine lines, age spots, and wrinkles. 

There’s another variant, called Beta Arbutin, a chemically similar molecule, which is a cheaper version but not as stable as Alpha Arbutin. Moreover, it is shown Alpha Arbutin to be over ten times more effective than Beta Arbutin when it comes to minimising dark spots and skin brightening.

Alpha Arbutin v/s Hydroquinone 

Arbutin is essentially a Glycoside, a natural derivative of Hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is one of the best skin brightening ingredients, but if used without medical supervision it can cause permanent skin damage being potent in nature. Alpha Arbutin is considered an effective and safe alternative to Hydroquinone without any of its harsh effects on the skin.

How Does It Work?

Our skin tone is determined by the amount of melanin on our skin, the more the melanin, the darker the skin. However, melanin also acts as a protective layer against the sun’s harmful rays but excessive exposure can cause hyperpigmentation which leads to uneven skin tone.

Alpha Arbutin works by inhibiting an enzyme called tyrosinase within melanocytes. It controls the melanin production - melanin is responsible for the pigment levels which imparts the skin its colour. 

In simpler words, less tyrosinase means less pigment, which means less discolouration and unwanted dark spots on the face. Due to its water-soluble nature, Alpha Arbutin absorbs faster into the skin and is overall more effective than its Beta counterpart and much safer as compared to Hydroquinone.

What Are The Benefits of Using It?

1. Reduces Pigmentation And Dark Spots

Being a stable water-soluble compound, it safely and visibly fades the dark spots and hyperpigmentation without irritation by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase. It not only reduces the appearance of sunspots but also helps in preventing them.

In most cases, hyperpigmentation takes time to heal so don’t expect any overnight results with Alpha-Arbutin, give it at least 8-12 weeks to show the significant results.

2. Helps In Treating Melasma

Melasma is a pretty familiar condition among pregnant women due to hormonal changes that leads to the formation of brown patches on the face. Alpha Arbutin is shown to help in reducing the intensity of these patches due to its skin brightening qualities. If you are pregnant, do consult your doctor before using it.

3. Skin Brightening

It is a safe skin-brightening ingredient that targets hyperpigmentation and dark spots to show younger-looking skin. It does not bleach your skin permanently, it brightens your skin by slowing down melanin production.

4. Improves Skin Tone

Alpha Arbutin is a safe option for all skin tones as it only evens out your complexion instead of changing the skin colour. It brightens the darker or affected areas of the skin (sun damage and hyperpigmentation), resulting in a natural even skin tone.

5. Gentle On Skin

Alpha Arbutin is gentle and less irritating on the skin, unlike other skin brightening ingredients. It is safe to use in concentrations of up to 2% without experiencing any harsh effects. Due to its mild nature, it is a great alternative for sensitive skin types.

Who Should Use It?

Being on the gentler side, it works well with all skin types and tones so anyone looking for an effective solution to any kind of skin discolouration that could be caused by sun damage, acne scarring, or melasma should consider using Alpha Arbutin. Even if you want to fix a blotchy skin tone, Alpha Arbutin is the solution. 

1. Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, the Alpha Arbutin works wonderfully as compared to other skin brighteners like Glycolic Acid and Retinol. 

2. Dry Skin

It does not irritate or dry out the skin like other skin brightening components. Alpha Arbutin protects and nourishes the skin so people with scaly or dry skin can benefit from the regular use of Arbutin. 

3. Acne-Prone Skin 

It notably fades out tough acne scars and prevents future breakouts as well. Over time, it helps smooth the scarred skin and improves the texture of the skin. 

When Should You Use It?

Alpha Arbutin products are safe to use two times a day. For optimal results, it can be used in both morning and night skincare routines. For better absorption and hydration, apply moisturizers and creams at night. Make sure to always cleanse your skin properly before using any product with Alpha Arbutin. 

What Is The Recommended Concentration To Use?

Studies have shown that Alpha Arbutin is superior in performance when compared to traditional brightening agents such as Hydroquinone and Kojic Acid. It is quite effective in low strengths and shows great results in concentrations of 1 to 2% when used consistently for a few months.

Try our 2% Alpha Arbutin Serum for Dark Spots & Pigmentation

How Should You Use It?

Since Alpha Arbutin is credited for its skin brightening benefits, you will find this ingredient most commonly in moisturizers, serums, creams, masks, and toners. Arbutin works best when used along with Vitamin C, AHAs and Niacinamide, enhancing the skin's brightening effects. 

Take Away

This miracle ingredient is being increasingly witnessed by dermatologists for its skin brightening and spot fading qualities, making it a popular ingredient in the skincare market. However, it's important to know that Alpha-Arbutin for skin does not lead to a permanent change in the condition of the skin which is a good thing, making it a safe ingredient without experiencing permanent alterations in your skin. 

Also, melanin is an important pigment for the skin and Alpha Arbutin decreases melanin production, so keep in mind, not to overuse or over-apply an Arbutin-based product.