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What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening


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

LTS Korea Triple Lightening Serum Pharmaclinix Lightenex® Gold Cream Royal Beauty Collagen Serum + Vitamin C Serum bea Skincare Brightening Serum bea Skincare Solar Defence SPF 30 Acure Brightening 2% Alpha Arbutin Serum Aselia Professional Lightening Cream Avoskin Your Skin Bae Alpha Arbutin 3% + Grapeseed CUURA Spotless Serum (Pigmentation Serum) Deconstruct Clearing Serum 2% Alpha Arbutin+ 5% Niacinamide Earth Rhythm 2% Alpha Arbutin + Hyaluronic Acid - Skin Clarifying Serum Principia Alfa Arbutin Queen Natural New York 7 In 1 White And Bright Super Serum Revox Alpha Arbutin 2% + Ha Skinlex 2% Alpha-Arbutin Serum The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + Ha The Purest Solutions Brightening Serum Arbutin %2 + Hyaluronic Acid bea Skincare Solar Defence SPF 50 Agartha Beauty 3% Alpha Arbutin + 3% Kojic Acid + HA Avoskin Ultra Brightening Cream Be Minimalist Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid 1% Bhumi C+ Brightening Booster Cosmetic Skin Solutions Supreme Pytho + Gel Creamy Ácido Mandélico Dermabien Melacure Skin Brightening Cream Dermaceutical Skin Whitening & Anti Aging Serum Dr. Sheth's Ashwagandha & Alpha Arbutin Serum Evi Sérum Iluminador Facial Garden of Wisdom Alpha Arbutin 2% And Kojic Acid 1% Serum Garden of Wisdom (GOW) Alpha Arbutin JJLabs Skincare Solution Skin Brightening & Anti Aging Serum La Clinica Intensive Correction Serum - Level 2 MEDGLOW Alpha Arbutin Serum Medik8 White Balance Original Serum Naruko AM+PM RX 2% Alpha Arbutin + 1% VC Nutrishe Intensive Bright & Glow Serum Olecule Phyto White+ Omega Skin Lab Pigment C Serum Reviva Labs Dark Spot Serum Shunly Ka + Bio Lightening Treatment Skin Functional Dark Mark Management Skin Glow Vita White (5% Vitamin C + 2% Alpha Arbutin) Serum St. Botanica Alpha Arbutin 2% + Hyaluronic Acid 1% Depigmentation Face Serum Theraskin Klassis TX+ Under Skin Advanced Retinol Restorer Vitamin c Cilix e'clat superior Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Acid modest. Alpha-Arbutin + B3 naturium Alpha Arbutin Essence 1% naturium Alpha Arbutin Essence 1%