What Is Alpha-arbutin


Arbutin is a naturally occurring substance found in plants such as bearberry, cranberry and mulberry that inhibits the development of melanin (the pigment that creates skin colour). Alpha-arbutin is a chemically synthesized variant of plant extract used as a topical skin brightening agent to treat dark spots, pigmentation, and scars caused by UV exposure and breakouts. It also contains antioxidants, which help to protect the skin from UV rays. It’s a common ingredient in anti-ageing creams, along with retinol, to cure age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.

How It Works

Arbutin stops any extra production of melanin (the pigment that creates skin color). Melanin is produced when an enzyme called tyrosinase makes the amino acid tyrosine, and then the tyrosine gets passed off to cells called melanocytes that convert the tyrosine into melanin. Arbutin disrupts this chain of events by telling tyrosinase to pause on the tyrosine production – without tyrosine, melanocytes have nothing to work with which limits the melanin production in your skin. So there you have it: less tyrosine and less melanin means less pigment, less dark spots, and a more even complexion. 

Benefits Of Alpha-arbutin

By inhibiting tyrosinase activity, alpha-arbutin is known to reduce melanin production in the skin. Tyrosine and melanin levels are lower, which means reduced pigmentation, black patches, and a more even skin tone. Alpha-arbutin can be used to diminish age spots, post-blemish redness and acne. It helps to make you free from freckles or liver spots if you have them.

If your skin is dry and flaky, you can fundamentally profit from arbutin’s effective use. It secures and supports the skin, giving you a smoother, youthful look. Arbutin holds sun protection properties as well since it inhibits the formation of tyrosinase, which causes the skin to darken after exposure to the sun.

Arbutin evens and brightens your complexion making your skin look healthier and vibrant. It can be thought of as a beauty blender – except instead of blending out with foundation, arbutin is literally blending out your actual skin.  It also addresses sugar-induced skin sallowness (yellowness) and loss of elasticity.

For more severe hyperpigmentation and melasma, hydroquinone has traditionally been the ingredient of choice due to it’s strength, but the hydroquinone often used in skin care products is synthetic, aggressive, and can badly damage the skin if used incorrectly (like permanently damage the skin with blueish/greyish splotches). Arbutin is a much safer, more natural derivative of hydroquinone, and topical application of arbutin has been shown to treat melasma as well as severe dark areas. All the power without the bad side effects.

Fun Fact

Alpha-arbutin is great ingredient to be used in combinations.

  • Alpha-arbutin + vitamin C – helps enhance skin glow and even skin tone
  • Alpha-arbutin + niacinamide – both water-based actives form a lightweight skin perfecting duo
  • Alpha-arbutin + ferulic acid –  helps eliminate hyperpigmentation faster and more effectively

Food Sources

Alpha-Arbutin occurs naturally in several different plant species.

Plants with the highest known concentrations are bearberry and mulberry.

It is also found in blueberry, cranberry, wheat, and pear varieties.

Our Skincare Top Picks


Radiance gently exfoliates the skin and restores the skin’s radiance thanks to the synergy of high-performance acids and lightening agents in optimal concentrations. For dull complexion, uneven skin texture and skin tone. Fragrance free.

Active Ingredients: kojic acid, arbutin, niacinamide, salicylic and mandolin acids

Best for: homogenized complexion, reduction of pigment spots, skin luminosity

Yellow cream

Yellow Cream targets and reduces the appearance of dark spots thanks to optimally concentrated lightening agents associated with the exfoliating action of glycolic and salicylic acids. For dark spots, skin imperfections and irregular complexion. Fragrance free.

Active Ingredients: kojic acid, alpha-arbutin, licorice extract, modus alba extract, glycolic and salicylic acids

Best for: dark spots reduction, even complexion

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