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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

Avoskin Your Skin Bae Alpha Arbutin 3% + Grapeseed CUURA Spotless Serum (Pigmentation Serum) Earth Rhythm 2% Alpha Arbutin + Hyaluronic Acid - Skin Clarifying Serum Queen Natural New York 7 In 1 White And Bright Super Serum Skinlex 2% Alpha-Arbutin Serum The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + Ha Avoskin Ultra Brightening Cream Be Minimalist Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid 1% Cosmetic Skin Solutions Supreme Pytho + Gel Creamy Ácido Mandélico Garden of Wisdom Alpha Arbutin 2% And Kojic Acid 1% Serum JJLabs Skincare Solution Skin Brightening & Anti Aging Serum Medik8 White Balance Original Serum Nutrishe Intensive Bright & Glow Serum Olecule Phyto White+ Reviva Labs Dark Spot Serum Shunly Ka + Bio Lightening Treatment Skin Functional Dark Mark Management Theraskin Klassis TX+ e'clat superior Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Acid modest. Alpha-Arbutin + B3 naturium Alpha Arbutin Essence 1% naturium Alpha Arbutin Essence 1% naturium Alpha Arbutin Serum 2% the Aubree Brightening Serum Concentrate Atolla Custom Serum Droplette Retinol Formulation Fundamental Whiteglow Advanced Serum MD Skinical Phyto + Osmotics Lighten Fx 3X Dark Spot Remover SOMETHINGELSE Mulberry Brightening Facial Treatment Essence Vow Beauty With This Kiss...Lip Brightening & Volume Enhancing Balm WhiteRx Activated Serum Atolla Worgan DECREE Treat Tincture Detoxie Anti-Pollution & De-Tan Refreshing Face Wash KA Expert Anti Melasma Serum MD Skinical B3 Serum MELAO Whitening Serum 2% Alpha Arbutin, Kojic Acid & Licorice Root Extract Novaclear Whiten Advanced Whitening Serum Skin Authority Brightening Serum SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum Tree of Life Beauty Ultimate Age Defying Serum - Daytime haple Sky Rose Moisturizer 001 skincare Alpha-Glow Flash Facial Serum-Primer-Mask Arcona Instant Magic Reversal Serum BioAqua Aloe Vera 92% Soothing Gel Mineral botanica Acne Care - Face Serum Mineral botanica Brightening Serum Mineral botanica Whitening Plus Complex - Serum