Written By Dhatri
You may have heard of skin brighteners like Vitamin C, kojic acid, and licorice. But there is a new favourite skincare element that dermatologists all around recommend, and that is Alpha-Arbutin. Alpha-Arbutin is naturally found in cranberries, bearberries, and mulberries. Its chemical name is Hydroquinone--D-glucopyranoside. The hydroxyl group in hydroquinone is replaced by a sugar molecule to form alpha-arbutin.
How does it work?
There are these cells called melanocytes in our skin. It contains an enzyme – tyrosinase. Melanin is produced in melanocytes. Melanin causes the skin to darken. And that’s how you get brown spots on your skin. Melanocytes get activated when exposed to UV light. That is why freckles and brown spots appear when you are in the sun for a long time.
Alpha-Arbutin acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor. and thus prevents the formation of extra melanin, preventing skin darkening. It also slows the production of melanosomes. Melanosomes are organelles that make and store melanin and other pigments. This is how it acts as a skin-brightening agent.
What is it used for?
It is the best skin-brightening agent available. The following are some of its uses:
- It removes any dark spots on the skin.
- It removes the scars of acne.
- It evens out the skin tone by fading the brown spots.
- It is used to treat melasma—a condition that occurs in pregnant women. They get brown patches on their skin.
- It is used to protect your skin from the effects of the sun.
Who can use it?
All types of skin can be treated with Alpha-Arbutin. It releases slowly into the skin, thus being gentle.
- It can be used by people with sensitive skin since it is gentle, unlike other skin-brightening agents.
- It can be used for dry skin. It does not dry out the skin. It nourishes the skin.
- It can be used by people with uneven skin tone. It lightens the sunspots and acne scars and evens out the skin colour.
Alpha-Arbutin and other skin brighteners
Arbutin also comes in a Beta-Arbutin form. It is cheaper than Alpha-Arbutin. But it is less stable and less effective. Alpha-arbutin is 10 times more effective than its beta counterpart.
Hydroquinone was once considered the most potent skin-brightening agent. Hydroquinone damages melanocytes that produce melanin and other pigments. But Alpha-Arbutin works by competitively inhibiting the Tyrosinase enzyme, which is responsible for creating more melanin and pigmentation. Hydroquinone was declared carcinogenic. Natural hydroquinone is called alpha-arbutin. It is much gentler and safer.
For best effects, Alpha-Arbutin can be used with Vitamin C and AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) for better effects.
How to use it?
Alpha-Arbutin comes as a serum that you can apply to your skin. It also comes in moisturizers, toners, masks, and other beauty products. A concentration of 1–2% is considered ideal.
The skin needs to be cleansed first. Then apply Alpha-Arbutin. Then apply moisturisers if any to help Alpha-Arbutin seep in. It is safe to use with most other beauty products since it is so gentle in action. It takes time for results to show. It takes 8–12 weeks.