Best used: In AM or PM (Up to 2X day)Caution: Mixes well with othersBest for: Melasma, Pigmentation, Post acne marks
Comments: Alternative to HydroquinoneMode of action: Tyrosinase inhibitor, pigment correctorScience Score:


What is the Skin Science behind Arbutin?

Found in bearberry, cranberry & wheat, arbutin can be considered as organic.  In the context of cosmeceuticals, the molecule is manufactured. Arbutin breaks down to form hydroquinone & functions to decrease the activity of the enzyme that produces pigment (melanin).  It reduces melanin formation, improving the appearance of age spots, freckles, melasma, and post-inflammatory pigmentation.

Does arbutin lighten skin?

This compound is one of the most potent inhibitors of pigmentation as it specifically targets the enzyme that produces melanin.

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What is Alpha Arbutin used for?

Beta arbutin, also called Hydroquinone β-D-glucopyranoside, is a naturally occurring antioxidant and skin brightener that is naturally found in certain plants such as the pear tree. It is a skin brightening agent used to treat melasma, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation & disorders of pigmentation. This compound is frequently used Japanese traditional medicine.

Davin’s Protip on Arbutin

I use arbutin as a pigment corrector for sensitive skin, or during the hydroquinone rest period. Most often compounded with ascorbic, kojic, citric & other alpha hydroxy acids.

Arbutin works well for general pigment reduction, however in melasma iit should ideally be combined with lasers chemical peels & t.acid.

I do think the stigma associated with hydroquinone is both overrated but also justified. I have seen many long term side effects on HQ, including most frequently skin irritation, allergies, tachyphylaxis & even ochronosis. Giving patients crystal clear instructions on how to use HQ is a must (refer to my IG posts on, with a start date, stop regime, HQ substitute & recommencement date. In this context my ‘arbutin & non-HQ pigment corrector’ cycle will vary from 4- 26 weeks. Please discuss this with the designated clinical nurse or therapist assigned to your treatment.

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