Alpha Arbutin in Indian Creams - Benefits, How to Use and Side-Effects

What Is Alpha Arbutin?

Alpha arbutin is a naturally occurring derivative of hydroquinone (a popular skin-lightening ingredient) extracted from the dried leaves of plants like blueberry, cranberry and bearberry. It works as an effective skin-lightening agent (1), fading pigmentation and spots caused by breakouts or sun damage. Wondering how? Let’s dig deeper.

Your skin colour depends on the amount of melanin (2), which is stimulated by an enzyme called tyrosinase in your melanocyte cells. Every time your skin comes in contact with UV light, tyrosinase is activated. Alpha Arbutin blocks the activity of tyrosinase by slowing down the pigmentation process caused by UV rays. This helps your skin keep dark spots and tan at bay.

Benefits Of Using Alpha Arbutin

1. Reduces Dark Spots And Pigmentation

Alpha arbutin works by inhibiting tyrosinase activity that limits the melanin production in your skin. Less tyrosine and less melanin leads to lesser pigmentation, dark spots, and a more even complexion.

Be it age spots, acne scars or post-blemish redness, alpha arbutin minimizes it all. It is also effective in reversing problems like freckles and liver spots.

2. Helps In Skin Lightening

Alpha arbutin helps to reduce tan on your skin by reducing the degree of melanin production. This natural ingredient can be very beneficial in treating melasma characterized by a dark or tan skin discoloration.

3. Promotes An Even Skin-Tone

Alpha arbutin reduces the appearance of sun spots and discolored patches by reducing the amount of melanin produced in your skin. This evens and brightens your complexion, making your skin look healthier and vibrant.

4. Safer Than Hydroquinone

Alpha arbutin is frequently marketed as a safer alternative to hydroquinone. While hydroquinone works by killing the cells that produce pigmentation and melanin, arbutin inhibits the enzymes that stimulate pigment-producing cells.

5. Gentle On Skin

While other skin brightening agents can dry out and irritate your skin, alpha arbutin is less irritating. This is due to its active components that are released slowly.

How To Use Alpha Arbutin?

Alpha arbutin can be used twice daily. For effective results, use it in combination with skin lightening creams, gels, cleansers, serums, masks and other chemical peels. Most of ishonest’s customized skin care products contain alpha arbutin. They function by reducing melanin production and brightening your skin.

To boost its benefits, you can apply alpha arbutin alongside vitamin C, or after exfoliating with an AHA (which will improve its absorption). Make sure to apply it to clean, dry skin, before moisturising.

Remember, consistency is key for optimal results. It will take 1-2 months of consistent topical use of alpha arbutin before you begin to see improvements.

Who Should Use Alpha Arbutin?

No matter what your skin type or age is, you can safely use alpha arbutin for your skin to treat pigmentation or tan related concerns. Alpha arbutin is safe for topical use in concentrations of up to 2% in skin care products. Whereas, beta arbutin is safe for topical use in concentrations of up to 7% in skin care products.

While many other skin lightening agents cause irritation and harshness to your skin, alpha arbutin is gentle and can be less irritating. However, conduct a patch test before use.

What Are The Available Forms Of Alpha-Arbutin?

Alpha arbutin is available in both natural and synthetic forms. It can be prepared synthetically from the reaction of acetobromoglucose and hydroquinone in the presence of alkali. (3) Its powdered form is known to be the purest. Alpha arbutin is found in several skin-lightening creams, lotions, overnight masks and serums.

Side-effects Of Alpha Arbutin

Alpha arbutin is proven to be safe for your skin when used in 3-4 percent concentrations. While arbutin normally suits all skin types, there are still rare cases where it can cause adverse reactions.

Under alkaline condition, there are chances that alpha arbutin converts into hydroquinone, a depigmenting agent used to lighten areas of darkened skin. In such cases, use alpha arbutin under the guidance of a dermatologist.

A few side-effects of using alpha arbutin:

  • Skin irritation that may result in mild acne
  • Sun-sensitivity or sun burns
  • Redness or irritation from an allergic reaction
Note Make it a point to conduct a patch-test before you use any face product containing alpha arbutin.


Make it a point to conduct a patch-test before you use any face product containing alpha arbutin.

Does Alpha Arbutin Tend To Darken skin?

Alpha arbutin is used to lighten your skin and lessen melanin production. With the right concentration, the presence of this ingredient in your skincare products can greatly benefit you if you have hyperpigmentation.

Although, the whitening effect of arbutin is not permanent. This is because it merely interferes with the tyrosinase activity. The lightening effect may continue for a few weeks after you discontinue, but will ultimately disappear over time.

ishonest Tip

Too much heat can reduce the effectiveness of arbutin. If you have serums or creams containing arbutin, keep them away from direct sunlight and hot areas.

What Concentration Should Alpha Arbutin Be Used In?

Alpha Arbutin is water soluble and easily incorporated into the water phase of cosmetic formulations. You can use it in 1-2 percent concentration, when formulating with an exfoliant. If you visit a dermatologist, he may prescribe an alpha arbutin product in concentrations of 2 or above.

Did You Know?

Alpha-Arbutin shows impressive tyrosinase inhibition and is nine times more effective than Beta-Arbutin!

Difference Between Alpha And Beta Arbutin

Arbutin used in cosmetics comes in two forms - alpha and beta. Alpha arbutin has better water-solubility, heat-resistance, and light-stability properties compared to beta arbutin.

Due to more effectiveness, alpha arbutin is most commonly used in lotions, serums and treatments to lighten spots and brighten complexion. While alpha arbutin is expensive to formulate, beta arbutin is cheaper.

Wrapping Up

Alpha arbutin is one of the safest lightening ingredients today. It works well for all skin types and is an effective ingredient to treat dark spots, pigmentation and age spots. It is important to note that fading of pigmentation might take you time and you can assess the results only with daily use.

Also, if you have sensitive and aging skin, it is better to consult a dermatologist first and then go for the process.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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