Is Alpha-Arbutin a safe and effective alternative to Hydroquinone? Skin whitening, lightening, or bleaching refers to the practice of using chemical substances to lighten and even out skin tone. Anyone who is looking to diminish sun or age spots, acne scars, or other discolorations needs to be aware of the safety of chemical ingredients used in topical skin creams.
Several chemicals are effective in skin whitening but are toxic and have questionable safety profiles. Hydroquinone is one of these ingredients. Recent studies raised serious questions about the safety of applying this chemical to your skin. However, Alpha-Arbutin, which suppresses unwanted pigmentation rather than killing pigment-producing cells, is an effective alternative much safer to use than the harsh chemical hydroquinone.
What Is Alpha-Arbutin?
The primary source for Alpha-Arbutin is a small evergreen bush called the Bearberry, Alpha-Arbutin is in the leaves of this bush. Bearberry grows over the Northern hemisphere and in the continental United States as far south as Wisconsin and New Jersey.
The leaves of bearberry have melanin-inhibiting properties. This and other plant extracts are safe alternatives to chemical pigment reducing agents used to make the skin fairer. Arbutin exists in two conformations, alpha, and beta. The alpha conformation offers higher stability and is the preferred form for skin lightening applications.
Medical studies have shown it to be effective for skin lightening. There are patents covering its use for topical skin lightening products. Alpha-Arbutin doesn’t appear to have any nasty side effects and studies have shown it to be safe to use. It is much less irritating to the skin than hydroquinone at similar or even greater doses.
The Effect Of Alpha-Arbutin
Alpha-Arbutin is a biosynthetic active ingredient is pure, water-soluble and comes in a powder form. As one of the advanced skin lightening ingredients on the market, it works well on all skin colors and types. It works by inhibiting melanin production. Pure forms of it are potent skin lightening agents.
Alpha-Arbutin has shown to inhibit the activity of tyrosinase which controls the production of melanin. Its inhibitory mechanism is different from other forms of arbutin and can be up to 10 times more effective. The A-form of it offers higher stability and efficiency than the B form found in the related Beta-Arbutin. This makes it a skin whitening active ingredient that acts faster and better than existing single components.
Skin cream formulators like it because it is water soluble and it works. A one-month study on 80 Chinese women, using a 1% alpha arbutin concentration, resulted in a “skin lightening effect”. It is one of the stable and effective brightening ingredients available for promoting lighter more even skin tone and brighter skin. It was faster and more effective than kojic acid (another common skin lightener) and as effective as hydroquinone, now considered carcinogenic.
Hydroquinone works by decreasing the production of melanin pigments in the skin. Skin lighteners use it to reduce age spots and other discolorations and to make skin tone evener. It’s not sold over the counter in Europe, Japan, and other countries. It’s still a common ingredient in the US. Research has proven (alpha) Arbutin has a stronger inhibitory action than (beta) Arbutin.
Its a more costly ingredient to manufacture, even at low concentrations, which is why manufacturers still use hydroquinone and also because it was once considered a miracle ingredient to whiten skin. Studies have shown it to be a dangerous toxin. In short it is an effective ingredient, however, there are certain health risks associated with using it. It has several different health issues, the most dangerous being cancer.
The EU banned the use of it over the counter skin products back in 2001. The FDA has come to similar conclusions about the health risks but has not yet issued a ban on its use. The campaign for safe cosmetics stated it’s unsafe for use in products left on the skin and was linked to cancer and organ-system toxicity. The Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database identified this chemical as a carcinogen, and they give it a high overall hazard rating for significant health risks.
Skin Lightening Without The Use Of Harsh Chemicals
Topical skin brightening creams not using hydroquinone are not yet common on the over the counter market. People who are looking for a skin lightening product that’s safe to use are turning to Meladerm Cream. It does not contain harsh and harmful chemicals like mercury, steroids, parabens, and of course hydroquinone.
The Civant Skin Care Company, one of the pioneers of the use of Alpha-Arbutin, developed this product years ago as a natural alternative to the dangerous chemicals used in skin care products.
This is a specialty product you may not know about because you can only buy Meladerm online, it is not sold in department or drug stores. Its use has been growing in popularity, here is an excerpt of what one user had to say:
Now I can see the best result on my face. Meladerm is the great product that I have ever seen before, so i recommend this product for everyone! Thanks. – daina 7 / 19 / 13
Interested in trying out this hydroquinone-free product? The link below leads to the official Civant Skin Care website where you can order it. Once there you can find more detailed information about anything you would like to know about natural skin care.