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Acide arbutine contre l'hyperpigmentation.

How to use arbutin acid for hyperpigmentation

Pigmentation marks can be caused by several factors, with the most common being UV rays, skin aging or hormonal changes. Arbutin acid is a natural ingredient derived from bearberry leaves, and is well-known for its brightening properties. Discover how it targets hyperpigmentation.

Published March 15, 2023, by Maylis, Chemical Engineer, — 5 min read

How to use arbutin acid for hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a dermatological term used to describe those persistent marks that appear on the surface of the skin. They happen because of a disruption in the pigmentation process: melanin, the pigment responsible for natural coloration of the skin, is sometimes overproduced in certain areas. The marks that appear can be variable in size and cause the complexion to be uneven, which can be upsetting for those affected.

Hyperpigmentation affects all skin tones, but is particularly visible and frequent for those with darker skin. We can divide hyperpigmentation marks into three categories:

  • Melasma: This can be caused by hormonal disorders, and generally appears during pregnancy (which is why we call it pregnancy mask)

  • Lentigo: Also known as liver spots or sun spots, these are caused by excessive and repeated exposure to the sun. These marks are usually found on the areas of skin exposed to the sun, such as the hands and face.

To note: The use of certain perfumes and medications such as oral contraceptives, malaria medication and certain antidepressants can also cause hyperpigmentation.

A quick overview of arbutin acid.

Arbutin acid is a cosmetic ingredient also known as alpha-arbutin or by its scientific name 4-Hydroxyphenyl-alpha-D-glucopyranoside. It’s naturally present in certain plants, such as bell heather, cranberry or blueberry, but it’s from bearberry leaves that we can extract the most arbutin acid. It can also be produced synthetically, including from hydroquinone, a chemical known to treat skin discoloration or hyperpigmentation.

Arbutin acid vs hyperpigmentation.

Arbutin acid is often referred to as a natural hydroquinone because of its pigment-regulating properties. It’s gentler and better tolerated by the skin than hydroquinone, which has been prohibited for use in cosmetic products by the European Commission since 2001.

Alpha arbutin is remarkably effective when applied to the skin, thanks to to its perfect size match with the active site of tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in the formation of melanin. Alpha arbutin completely blocks tyrosine’s active site, stopping its activity and, consequently, melanin production. It’s simple: less tyrosine and less melanin means less pigment, fewer dark spots and a more even complexion.

You can use our pigmentation serum morning and evening. It’s packed with brightening ingredients (2% alpha-arbutin and lemon extract). We advise continued use for at least six weeks to see the benefits.

Sources :

  • J. KAULPIBOON & al. Optimization of amylomaltase for the synthesis of α-arbutin derivatives as tyrosinase inhibitors. Carbohydrate Research (2020).

  • H. MOHAMMADAMINI & al. A comprehensive review of the therapeutic potential of alpha-arbutin. Phytotherapy Research (2021).


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