Why Alpha Arbutin Is Safer Than Hydroquinone For Hyperpigmentation? 


If you are using hydroquinone for hyperpigmentation, it is high time for you to switch to alpha arbutin as it is much safer and equally effective as hydroquinone. Long term use of hydroquinone has detrimental effects on your skin. Alpha Arbutin, on the other hand, does not have any risks as it is a natural derivative of hydroquinone and has the same patch/mark lightening effects without causing damage to your skin. Read on to know more-

An insight into alpha arbutin 

Alpha arbutin is believed to be one of the most effective alternatives to hydroquinone as it offers the same lightening effects without the risks. You will find it present in a number of skin care products that mostly deal with hyperpigmentation

When it comes to skin lightening, it is targeted generally for cosmetic reasons to either fade or lighten the marks of hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone is banned in several nations and in those countries that allow it’s use; products can only contain about 2% to 4% of hydroquinone. Such products are sold with a medical prescription and doctors advise patients to apply ointments and creams only for a short duration as long- term usage might lead to skin cancer in some people.  

The origins of alpha arbutin

Arbutin is popularly known as alpha arbutin and it occurs naturally in several species of plants. Plants with the highest known concentrates of alpha arbutin are mulberry and bearberry. One can also find alpha arbutin in cranberry, blueberry, pear and wheat varieties. Bearberry has been used for many centuries in North America and Europe as a medicine. 

Before the advent of modern antibiotics, bearberry was known for its natural anti-microbial properties. This is because of the presence of alpha arbutin in the plant. Again, in the modern era, many synthetic forms of alpha arbutin can be made with chemical synthesis or with the catalyst process with enzymes. In vitro studies of 7% of alpha arbutin, it has been proved that this has a potent inhibitory effect on the production of melanin on the skin. 

Alpha arbutin versus hydroquinone for Hyperpigmentation


Now, let us take a look at both of them below-


  • Hydroquinone works by destroying the cells that produce melanin and pigmentation
  • Products with 2% or less of hydroquinone concentrate are sold in America
  • Some evidence claims that hydroquinone is irritating on the skin and might act as a carcinogen 

Alpha arbutin 

  • Alpha arbutin inhibits the enzymes that are responsible for the cells that produce the pigment 
  • It is safe for you to use Alpha Arbutin with a concentration of 2% or lower 
  • Alpha arbutin irritates the skin less and is regarded as a safer alternative to hydroquinone 

Alpha arbutin is the best alternative to hydroquinone 

Alpha arbutin has proven to have good and superior results on the skin when compared to its chemical counterparts like hydroquinone and beta arbutin. Besides its higher efficacy, it is safer compared to hydroquinone and is stable when compared to its peer beta arbutin. 

It can be safely used for-

  • Freckles
  • Lentigines 
  • Melasma and Chloasma 
  • Hyperpigmentation 

Is there any sort of side effects by alpha arbutin? 

It is argued that Alpha Arbutin does not have side effects and safety issues for the user as it is natural in nature. However, if it is sourced from any synthetic source like hydroquinone, it is not safe for you to use on the skin topically. In alkaline conditions, arbutin transforms into hydroquinone so it is unsafe for use under specific circumstances. Since the skin is not alkaline, it is safe for use. 

How quickly can you see results? 


Depending upon how deep your hyperpigmentation is, you are able to witness visible lightening effects in as early as four weeks.

So, the answer to whether alpha arbutin is safe or not for hyperpigmentation- Yes, it is but not hydroquinone, so avoid it at all costs!

When using products with alpha arbutin for hyperpigmentation, make sure you read the label of the product carefully. The brand should be good and the percentage of alpha arbutin should be mentioned clearly for you to see before you make your purchase. 

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