Arbutin: The Underrated Skin-Brightener

Previously, we shared with you the low-down on all things Vitamin C and Niacinamide, to help you better understand how to incorporate such ingredients into your routine if you have hyperpigmentation or other skin concerns related to dull or uneven skin tone. This time round, we'll be looking into star ingredient Arbutin – the underrated skin-brightening ingredient which is not only safe for frequent use, but is also highly effective. It is a focus ingredient in the popular Banobagi Alpha Radiance Serum, which well be discussing shortly. 

Arbutin is a kind-to-skin, skin brightening agent typically extracted from the Bearberry plant; although is also naturally present in some other berries and the peel of pears. Arbutin is often compared to Kojic acid and Licorice root extract as they share similar functions and are also gentle skin brighteners. 


Functions and how to use

Arbutin is recognised as a Tyrosinase inhibiter. It blocks the activation of Tyrosinase – the enzymes within melanocyte cells that are activated with unprotected exposure to the sun; they’re responsible for melanin production. This means that Arbutin has the ability to:

  • Fade age spots/dark sun spots and freckles caused by exposure to UV rays
  • Lessens the prominence of acne scars that are dark in tone
  • Can transform ruddy, dull or uneven tones into a complexion with better clarity. 

Alpha-Arbutin is the more stable, high quality and most effective form or Arbutin. Whereas Beta-Arbutin is regarded as the less effective form of the ingredient as it’s less stable. Because Alpha-Arbutin is a low-hazard ingredient it can be used twice daily to ensure that you see results within the first 1-2 months of use. More often than not, it is used in serum formulations so that Arbutin can be delivered to skin early throughout a skincare routine after cleansing and toner application. However, it additionally works well in ampoules and light moisturisers.


Tip: Use Arbutin after cleansing and toner application, but before heavy cream moisturisers and facial oils for best results.


Arbutin has no known reactions with other common skincare ingredients, and therefore it can easily be added in a skincare routine day or night. Arbutin particularly works well with AHA exfoliants and Vitamin C, so you may continue to use your favourite AHA toner or Vitamin C moisturiser for example alongside a Arbutin serum, etc. Just remember that AHA and Vitamin C don’t make a good pair, so chose one or the other to use with Arbutin, but not both.

Another reason why Arbutin is safe to use even during hours of daylight, is because it doesn’t make skin more sensitive to the sun. However, you should be mindful that some Arbutin products additionally contain Vitamin C which does sensitise skin when exposed to UVA and UVB rays, so make sure to wear daily sunscreen just in case. Furthermore, remember to store you Arbutin skincare products away from direct sunlight as exposure to warm temperatures degrades the effectiveness of Arbutin. 


Related articles:

How Niacinamide Helps Your Skin?

Vitamin C : What Does it Do For Your Skin ?


The best products containing Arbutin

Banobagi Alpha Radiance Serum (set) – a professional skincare product developed by no other than the infamous Banobagi medical group, in S. Korea. This is an exclusive product to Glam Touch, which promotes glowing skin from the inside out. It contains 20,000ppm (2%) worth of Alpha-Arbutin, which may seem like a small concentration, but it is mighty. 2% Arbutin is enough to illuminate skin in an natural looking way and of course targets the pigmentation issues we mentioned earlier. It has a comforting ultra-lightweight consistency and absorbs into skin quickly to leave a smooth finish that isn’t greasy or overly tacky. It can be enjoyed by all skin types as it fragrance free, non-comedogenic, and has passed hypoallergenic testing proving it is suitable for sensitive skin types.


Photo by: @lindacheunglee


Whilst Alpha-Arbutin focuses on dark spots, evening out skin tone, and so on, glacial water enhances skin’s immune system with minerals and hydrating factors. Hyaluronic acid is a moisturising powerhouse added in for softening fine lines and boosting skin’s moisture levels. Overall, the Alpha Radiance Serum leaves skin feeling smooth, firm and looking as radiant as ever. 


Some By Mi Yuja Niacin Blemish Care Seruma ‘watery’ serum formulated with Arbutin, plus a pairing of 5% Niacinamide and 82% Korean Yuja (Yuzu) fruit. This cocktail of brightening and pigmentation-fighting ingredients ultimately target blemishes to leave a more unified skin tone and complexion. It further contains licorice root and green tea leaf extracts to increase the antioxidant activity of this non-sticky serum. It is ideal for daily use, and should be used in conjunction with a borad-spectrum sunscreen as it has a high Vitamin C content, as well as other sun sensitive vitamins. It’s fragrance is 100% non-synthetic – naturally smelling of organic Yuzu peel oil which is suitable for sensitive skin. It’s recommended that you use this serum in tandem with the matching Yuja Niacin Brightening Toner and Moisture Gel Cream to maximize its effectiveness. 


Some By Mi Yuja Niacin Blemish Care Serum Glam Touch UK
Some By Mi Yuja Niacin Blemish Care Serum


Some By Mi Yuja Niacin Brightening Sleeping Maska dual-functional product which brightens skin and serves as an anti-wrinkle overnight skin treatment. Just like the matching serum, toner and moisturising gel within the Yuja Niacin line-up, this re-energizing sleeping mask is centered around Yuja extract (70%) and Niacinamide. In this case Arbutin works with Glutathione and Resmelin® (an extract complex of Japanese knotweed, the oriental arbor-vitae tree and plants belonging to the Rutaceae plant category) to take care of pigmentation issues, inflammation and prevent free radical damage to skin. Its quick absorbing and moisture retaining formula impactfully plumps out fine lines and wrinkles to leave skin feeling hydrated from the surface layer and below overnight. 


Some By Mi Yuja Niacin Brightening Sleeping Mask Glam Touch UK
Some By Mi Yuja Niacin Brightening Sleeping Mask


Join the discussion: Have you tried Arbutin before, or would you like to try it?


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