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What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening

Official CosIng Information


An optical isomer of naturally occurring arbutin (or beta-arbutin). Just like its sibling, alpha-arbutin is also a skin-brightening, depigmenting agent.

Researching the difference between the two kinds of arbutin, you can read in multiple places on the internet that alpha-arbutin is stronger in effect. Unfortunately, it's never backed up with a credible source. :(  Our own research resulted in conflicting results: a study from 1995 found that alpha-arbutin is 10x as effective on mouse melanoma as beta-arbutin. On the other hand, a more recent study from 2015 found that beta-arbutin is more effective both on mouse melanoma cells and on human melanoma cells (btw, kojic acid was the most effective on human melanoma cells).  

None of the studies we could find is in-vivo (made on real people) anyways, so who knows. We think you cannot go wrong with trying both beta- and alpha-arbutin and see if one works better for you than the other. 

Show me some proof

  • Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, Vol. 27 (2004) No. 4 P 510-514, Inhibitory Effects of α-Arbutin on Melanin Synthesis in Cultured Human Melanoma Cells and a Three-Dimensional Human Skin Model
  • Masataka Funayama, Hirokuni Arakawa, Ryohei Yamamoto, Toyokazu Nishino, Takashi Shin & Sawao Murao (1995) Effects of α- and β-Arbutin on Activity of Tyrosinases from Mushroom and Mouse Melanoma, Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 59:1, 143-144
  • Planta Med Lett 2015; 2(01): e39-e41, Assessment of the Effect of Arbutin Isomers and Kojic Acid on Melanin Production, Tyrosinase Activity, and Tyrosinase Expression in B16-4A5 and HMV-II Melanoma Cells

Products with a known amount of Alpha-Arbutin

Other products with Alpha-Arbutin

Skinlex 2% Alpha-Arbutin Serum The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + Ha Creamy Ácido Mandélico Garden of Wisdom Alpha Arbutin 2% And Kojic Acid 1% Serum Medik8 White Balance Original Serum Olecule Phyto White+ Shunly Ka + Bio Lightening Treatment modest. Alpha-Arbutin + B3 the Aubree Brightening Serum Concentrate MD Skinical Phyto + WhiteRx Activated Serum MD Skinical B3 Serum Novaclear Whiten Advanced Whitening Serum Skin Authority Brightening Serum SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum haple Sky Rose Moisturizer Arcona Instant Magic Reversal Serum BioAqua Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel Noreva Anti-Dark Spot Night Care SkinScript Rx Pomegranate Enzyme Ishizawa - SHIGAISEN YOHOU Non-Chemical UV Gel Spf30 Pa+++ Kayman Beauty Rosa Glow Treatment Essence MD Skinical Clear Resveratrol MooGoo Brightening Cream Yello Skincare Snowmeric Hydra-Boost Brightening Serum Aknema Bha + Ha Serum MD Complete Spot Corrector MD Skinical Olive Essence Roushun 92% Aloe Vera Serum Roushun beauty Vitamin C Serum Urban Skin Rx Clear Complexion Acne Serum + Spot Treatment BODY BEAUTY Skin Whitening Lotion Derma E Derma Radiance Brightening Night Vitamin C Cream InstaNatural Pro-Radiant Skin Brightening Serum InstaNatural Skin Brightening Serum Le Mieux Brightening Serum Mesoestetic Ultime W+ Whitening Cream Regimen Lab Level Serum Sidmool Alpha Whitening Power Ampoule Skin better Even Tone Correcting Serum™ Urban Skin Rx Even Tone Night Treatment haple Blue Moon Moisturizer haple Blue Moon Moisturizer Boots Glow Brightening Mist Derma E Radiance Brightening Serum Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Water Burst Peter Thomas Roth Pro Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment acnoc Acneser Spot Gel Brickell Men's Products Repairing Night Serum For Men City Beauty Illuminating Dark Spot Corrector