Arbutin is a hydroquinone derivative that can be isolated from the leaves of the bearberry shrub, as well as from cranberry and blueberry bushes, from pears and also from some mushrooms. Arbutin is said to have skin lightening and melanin inhibiting qualities. Melanin is. of course, what produces hyperpigmentation and liver spots on many women as they age. Arbutin is now a popular ingredient in a number of anti-aging skin products that are specifically formulated to lighten the skin and prevent sun-damage as we grow older.
Up until a number of years ago a large number of companies that produced anti-aging products said to have skin lightening properties included hydroquinone as a major ingredient. However, on the 29th of August 2006, the Food and Drugs Administration announced that they would be proposing a ban on products containing hydroquinone and that it would only be available under prescription. This was due to the results following tests carried out on mice and rats showing that hydroquinone may possibly have carcinogenic properties. The manufacturers of these products did not, of course want to stop their production of well-selling skin lightening creams, and so they were forced to quickly come up with an alternative. The alternative used by many was Arbutin. Arbutin is said by these manufacturers to be a safe ingredient and to not have the possible side effects associated with Hydroquinone.
- A number of the skin products which include Arbutin are reasonably priced.
- Skin lightening products which include Arbutin are available to order on line.
- Arbutin is said to be a safe alternative to Hydroquinone;
- Some experts say that we do not know enough about Arbutin to conclude that it has no side effects.
- Concentration protocols are not really known. We do not know exactly how much Arbutin is needed in a skin product for it to actually lighten the skin.
- There have been no research trials using Arbutin on humans.
The Bottom Line
Liver spots and sun aging spots on the skin can be very distressing and it is normal that many of us are searching for a reliable product that can lighten and eliminate these spots and prevent new spots from forming. However, one of our major concerns in choosing such a product should be the safety of the product. Manufacturers believe that they have found a safe alternative with Arbutin, however, standardized, controlled tests need to be carried out on Arbutin, not only to show that it is a safe ingredient but also that it is effective. Once tests prove positive on both these points we could then say that creams which use Arbutin are both safe and effective. Currently, this is still a new ingredient that should be approached cautiously.