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What is Arbutin? How to use Arbutin?

What is Arbutin? How to use Arbutin?

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Arbutin is a naturally occurring compound derived from plants such as barberries, pears, and certain types of cranberries and blueberries. Chemically, it is a glycosylated hydroquinone, which means it consists of hydroquinone bound to a sugar molecule (glucose). This structure allows arbutin to be water soluble and more stable than hydroquinone, making it a popular ingredient in cosmetics and skin care products.


Used in skin care

Arbutin is primarily known for its skin-lightening and depigmentation properties. It works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, which is important in the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color. By reducing the activity of tyrosinase, arbutin helps prevent the formation of melanin, which creates a brighter and more even skin tone. This makes it effective in treating hyperpigmentation including age spots, melasma and acne scars.


Types of Arbutin

There are two main forms of arbutin used in skincare products:

1. Alpha-arbutin: This is a more stable and effective form of arbutin. It has a strong inhibitory effect on tyrosinase and is even more potent in reducing pigmentation.
2. Beta-arbutin: Also known simply as “arbutin”, this form is less stable and less effective than alpha-arbutin but is still widely used due to its lower cost.


Benefits of Arbutin

1. Skin lightening: As mentioned, arbutin is effective in reducing hyperpigmentation and evening skin tone.
2. Antioxidant Properties: Arbutin also exhibits antioxidant activity, helping to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.
3. Gentle on skin: Unlike hydroquinone, which can be harsh and cause irritation, arbutin is generally well tolerated and suitable for sensitive skin.
4. Sun Protection: By reducing melanin production, arbutin may also provide some level of protection against UV-induced skin damage, although it should not replace sunscreen.


Safety and side effects

Arbutin is considered safe for topical use and is approved in many countries as a skin-lightening agent. It is less likely to cause adverse effects than hydroquinone, which is associated with ochronosis (a form of skin discoloration) and other side effects. However, it is recommended to do a patch test before using any new skincare product to ensure that no allergic reaction occurs.


Applications and Uses

Arbutin is commonly found in serums, creams, and lotions. It can be used in both morning and evening skin care routine. When incorporating arbutin into a skin care regimen, it is recommended to use sunscreen during the day to protect the skin from UV exposure, which can counteract the benefits of arbutin.


Arbutin is a valuable ingredient in skin care, especially for those who want to address hyperpigmentation and achieve a more even skin tone. Its effectiveness, combined with its gentle nature, makes it the preferred alternative to harsh skin lightening agents. With consistent use, arbutin can help improve the appearance of dark spots and contribute to overall skin radiance.