What is Alpha Arbutin?
Arbutin is extracted from the bearberry plant and used as a tyrosinase inhibitor in skin brightening creams. As it inhibits tyrosinase it prevents the formation of melanin. Alpha Arbutin is the chemically synthesized form of Arbutin, mainly found in skincare creams. There is another variant Beta Arbutin which is highly unstable. Alpha Arbutin is ten times more effective than the Beta variant.
Benefits of Alpha Arbutin for Skin.
Inhibits pigment formation on skin: The skin has cells containing melanocytes which have an enzyme called tyrosinase. This melanin-producing enzyme gets activated whenever skin is exposed to sunlight (UV radiation), hence giving rise to freckles and brown spots on the face. These sunspots lead to an uneven skin tone and premature ageing of the skin. Alpha Arbutin works by inhibiting these enzymes and hence blocking the action of UV rays on the skin.
Brightening Agent: The first prominent effect of pigmentation on our face is reduced brightness. Since Alpha Burtin effectively blocks the formation of unwanted spots and blemishes as well as reduces acne scars, our face regains its original brightness and skin tone. It takes the role of skin blender by blending our actual skin by reducing the dark spots.
Reduces pigmentation on sun exposure: Alpha Arbutin minimizes the extent of darkening of the skin owing to sunlight exposure by inhibiting tyrosinase. In absence of the enzyme, melanocytes have nothing to work on and this results in healthy looking splendid cream with an even skin tone. But here is a slight catch, since melanin protects the skin from the sun and arbutin is inhibiting its production, it makes the skin sensitive to the sun. Hence, it’s imperative to always use sunscreen.
Safe to use: There are other more aggressive brightening agents like hydroquinone which have been deemed carcinogenic. Arbutin is much safer and a natural derivative of hydroquinone. The active ingredient is released slowly and gradually over time which does not kill the melanin-producing cells but only inhibits the enzymes which cells use to make melanin.
Gentle on the skin: More aggressive ingredients like hydroquinone make the skin dry and irritated whereas Arbutin acts as a reservoir of hydroquinone which is released gradually and slowly. As the active ingredient of Arbutin is released gradually over time, so the skin is not exposed to hydroquinone for longer periods and hence skin is saved from its harsh effects especially the sensitive skin. The sensitive skin is prone to get dry and irritated following the application of skin lightening agents hence Arbutin is a good option for people with sensitive skin.
Effective in fading Acne Scars: Arbutin works by balancing out the uneven skin tone by brightening it. This action also evens out blemishes and acne scars which refuse to go for a long time.
Improves uneven skin tone: Since Arbutin inhibits the production of melanin by obstructing the tyrosinase enzyme, it prevents further formation of dark spots and also fades out any other pre-existing blemishes or acne spots on the face. This results in a brightened and fairly even skin tone.
How is Alpha Arbutin used?
Alpha Arbutin is relatively safe and gentle so it can be used with other skin lightening agents like chemical peels and retinol. It can be applied twice daily without any side effects but no heavy moisturizer should be applied before applying Arbutin. It is mostly found in skincare creams and serums but it is also gaining popularity as an ingredient of overnight face masks and water creams(alpha-arbutin is water-soluble). Arbutin can be used in conjunction with other ingredients like mentioned here: https://www.thedeconstruct.in/how-to-use-alpha-arbutin-with-other-products/
In conclusion, Alpha Arbutin is relatively safe and gentle to be applied on the skin aiding the removal of dark spots and skin brightening while keeping in check its effect on sensitive skin by doing a patch test and maintaining PH of the skin creams on neutral to avoid release of hydroquinone(having acidic PH value).