What Is Alpha Arbutin?


Alpha arbutin is a plant extract that comes from berries such as; bearberries, blueberries, and cranberries.

It’s essentially a skin brightening ingredient that has had a fair amount of research under it’s belt. It’s totally safe and has even been described as one of the most efficient skin lightener agents.

Its main purposes include helping to fade scars and pigmentation left behind by breakouts and sun damage. 

What does alpha arbutin do to skin?

It works by inhibiting human tyrosinase.

This is important because tyrosinase is an enzyme of melanin production and is one of the most targeted molecule when it comes to hyperpigmentation inhibition.

Alpha arbutin is frequently touted as a efficacious ‘skin brightening’ ingredient (i.e skin lightening) because it does inhibit melanin production but it also known to be gentle.

Gentle, in terms of skincare, simply means it does not irritate your skin. This indicates that your skin will not experience redness, dryness or itchiness.

The reason for this? It may very well be because alpha arbutin has difficulty in skin permeability due to its hydrophilic nature.

A hydrophilic molecule is one that is easily dissolved in water and so it doesn’t tend to penetrate the skin so deeply.

Who should use alpha arbutin?

As it is gentle anyone can use it but it is especially useful for those who want to treat hyperpigmentation specifically.

It can be applied alongside vitamin C or after exfoliating with an AHA. However, these things will make your skin more sensitive and so can cause your alpha arbutin to be more irritating. Therefore, don’t use these ingredients everyday and start with low concentrations.

The best way to see results is with consistent use.

References

Aung, N.N., Ngawhirunpat, T., Rojanarata, T. et al. HPMC/PVP Dissolving Microneedles: a Promising Delivery Platform to Promote Trans-Epidermal Delivery of Alpha-Arbutin for Skin Lightening. AAPS PharmSciTech 21, 25 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1208/s12249-019-1599-1

Tobias Mann, Wolfram Gerwat, Jan Batzer, Kerstin Eggers, Cathrin Scherner, Horst Wenck, Franz Stäb, Vincent J. Hearing, Klaus-Heinrich Röhm, Ludger Kolbe,
Inhibition of Human Tyrosinase Requires Molecular Motifs Distinctively Different from Mushroom Tyrosinase,
Journal of Investigative Dermatology,
Volume 138, Issue 7,
2018,
Pages 1601-1608,
ISSN 0022-202X,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jid.2018.01.019.

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