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Blemish artifact, hydrogen hydrazine replacement: arbutin

Whitening is the endless pursuit of the Chinese people.


Because most people's skin types are in Fitzpatrick Type III and Type IV, it means that they can both sunburn and tan. If you play outdoors, especially on the beach, without any sun protection measures, the day will turn black (UVA triggers the release of melanin), and the subsequent reddening will continue to darken (UVB triggers new melanin production). So basically a few black numbers are possible.


Under the premise of doing enough sun protection, using some effective functional ingredients, you can reduce the production of melanin in time, so as to achieve the effect of "returning from vacation, whitening still".


Arbutin is a whitening ingredient that has been repeatedly verified. Because it can competitively inhibit the activity of tyrosinase, it can effectively reduce the production of melanin.


Arbutin was named after it was first found in the dried leaves of bearberry. It is also found in other plants such as cranberries, blueberries, wheat, and the like. It is a derivative of hydroquinone in nature.

The two forms of arbutin are also known to many people. The form that exists in nature is β-arbutin. Alpha-arbutin was synthesized by Japanese scientists in the 1950s and 1960s. Since the stability, effect, and safety are superior to β-arbutin, α-arbutin is more widely used.


Arbutin is the same as hydroquinone because it inhibits the activity of tyrosinase and achieves a whitening effect. But its inhibition is reversible, unlike hydroquinone, which has the potential to kill melanocytes and is therefore safer than hydroquinone.

As can be seen from the above figure, the first one from top to bottom is L-tyrosine, which is a precursor of melanin, which is oxidized to melanin via a series of biochemical reactions.

Hydroquinone (second), because of its similar structure, can inhibit the activity of tyrosinase and achieve the result of inhibiting melanin synthesis.

The third one is arbutin, which can be seen to have a similar structure.

Of note is the fourth “deoxyarbutin/deoxyarbutin”, which is proven to be superior in efficacy and safety to arbutin.


To verify the efficacy of arbutin on melanin inhibition and compare it with other classic whitening ingredients, Shiseido researchers conducted experiments on cultured cells to confirm that arbutin inhibited tyrosinase less than hydroquinone, but was better than Kojic acid and L-ascorbic acid/vitamin C.

Blemish artifact, hydrogen hydrazine replacement: arbutin