While many women assume that wrinkles are the biggest skin concern as they age, many others have a different concern: uneven skin tone .
And it is true. Age spots and reddish texture can age more than fine lines and crow’s feet.
And while many products promise to brighten, tone, and add radiance to the face, they can be too harsh or drying for people with sensitive skin, so finding a lightening ingredient that’s safe for skin types is urgent.
Turns out I found it. It’s about arbutin , a skin depigmenting compound that you may never have heard of.
Vitamin C, kojic acid, and licorice extract are great natural skin brighteners, but there are a number of reasons arbutin takes them out on the streets.
Do you want to know more about this interesting ingredient? Well, keep reading. I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about this ingredient that could change your skin.
What is arbutin?
Arbutin, also known as alpha-arbutin , is a molecule that is found naturally in several different plant species.
The plants with the highest known concentrations are bearberry and mulberry . It is also found in cranberry, lingonberry, wheat, and pear varieties.
And it has a very interesting property: it prevents the formation of melanin .
Like kojic acid (derived from mushrooms) and licorice root (derived from the licorice plant), arbutin works as an inhibitor of tyrosine (a key enzyme involved in the production of melanin), providing lightening effects and highlighters on the skin.
Basically, the brown spots are derived from pigments that are produced in cells called melanocytes, which contain enzymes called tyrosinase.
They can be activated any time they come into contact with UV light, and that is why when we spend too much time in the sun freckles and sun spots begin to appear.
That’s when arbutin comes into play, blocking tyrosinase and keeping dark spots at bay .
Benefits of arbutin for the skin
But why is it so special? One of the good things about it is that it is gentler than the other ingredients to lighten the spots, as its active component is released slowly.
This especially benefits sensitive skin that cannot tolerate other lightening agents.
But this is not its only advantage. Here are all its benefits:
- It has sun protection properties : Arbutin can reduce the degree of darkening of the skin after sun exposure, blocking the production of tyrosinase.
- It’s gentle on the complexion : While other lightening agents can dry out and irritate the skin, arbutin is much less irritating.
- Improves uneven complexion : Since arbutin inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme that helps in the production of melanin, it can prevent dark spots or even help to fade them, leading to a more even complexion.
- Can be used with other skin care products : There are no known negative interactions between arbutin and other facial care ingredients, so it can be used safely in any skin care routine.
- Can be used twice a day : For maximum results, this ingredient can be used both in the morning and in the evening.
- Safer than Hydroquinone : Hydroquinone was the “miracle” ingredient for skin lightening for a time, until the FDA declared it carcinogenic. While hydroquinone works by killing the cells that produce pigmentation and melanin, arbutin inhibits the enzymes that stimulate pigment-producing cells.
- It is effective in fade scars : Like its ability to minimize dark spots, alpha-arbutin is also very effective in fading those acne scars that remain long after a pimple disappears.
Arbutin side effects
Before you go shopping for all the arbutin products on the market, you should know this:
There are some people who get nervous about arbutin because they think it has the same side effects as hydroquinone (the synthetic version).
However, studies on this active have claimed that it is a safe and effective ingredient for minimizing skin blemishes .
But the ingredient is not entirely risk-free. Arbutin can cause skin irritation , especially if you’ve never used it before. So if you develop any kind of redness, burning or stinging, use it every other day until your skin adjusts.
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How to use it
This active can be used twice a day , since it is not aggressive with the skin. Preferably after cleansing, but before moisturizer.
You will be able to find it in many of the skin care products, especially in the anti-blemish products.
It is mainly found in depigmenting serums , but it is also a superstar ingredient in night masks and anti-blemish creams.
The good news is that it is so mild that it can be used in combination with other skin lightening ingredients , such as chemical peels and retinols.
You just have to be careful with the heat, which can degrade the effectiveness of the arbutin.
It can also be used in summer , as it does not make the skin more sensitive to the sun. Although this does not exempt you from using sunscreen on a daily basis.
In fact, this step is not only a “must” if you are trying to brighten your complexion and fade dark spots, but UV light also stimulates pigment production, and even small exposures can undo the benefits you may have gained from the depigmenting cream.
Like any other part of your skincare routine worth following, it takes a little time for the arbutin to do its thing .
Blemish fading doesn’t happen overnight. Results take weeks or months to appear, so be patient and stick with your regimen consistently.
Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.