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Arbutin: The Secret Skin-Brightener You’ve Never Heard Of

While most consider wrinkles to be the primary skin concern when it comes to aging, another common skin condition can actually age you more than fine lines and wrinkles—uneven skin tone. Sun spots, age spots, melasma all contribute to uneven skin tone and are all forms of hyperpigmentation. While many products promise to brighten, tone, and add luminosity, they can be too harsh or drying for those with sensitive skin—which is why we’re so excited about this skin-brightening ingredient that’s safe for all skin types.

Allow us to introduce arbutin, the secret skin brightener you’ve probably never even heard of. While vitamin C, kojic acid, and licorice are all great, natural skin brighteners, there are a couple reasons why arbutin stands above them. Keep scrolling to find out why this ingredient might just change your skin, and why it’s included in our HydroFacial as part of the Brite Plus Booster.


MAIN BENEFITS: Lightens dark / age spots, lessens appearance of acne scars, helps even out skin tone and general hyperpigmentation issues.

WHO SHOULD USE IT: Arbutin is generally safe for all skin types.

WHEN YOU CAN USE IT: Arbutin can be used twice a day. It is safe to apply on clean skin with other creams and serums. It can also be used in the summer since it does not make skin more sensitive to the sun.

WORKS WELL WITH: Vitamin C, Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

DON’T USE WITH: While there are no known negative interactions with other skincare ingredients, heat can degrade the effectiveness of arbutin.

What is Arbutin?

Arbutin is a molecule extracted from the bearberry plant that prevents the formation of melanin. Arbutin is a gentle skin brightener, not unlike kojic acid (derived from mushrooms) and licorice root (derived from the licorice plant). While they are derived from different natural ingredients, they all function as tyrosinase inhibitors to provide skin lightening and brightening effects. Brown spots and hyperpigmentation are the result of pigments that are produced in cells called melanocytes, which contain enzymes called tyrosinase.

They can activate anytime they come in contact with UV light, which is why you’ll notice freckles and sun spots starting to develop if you spend too much time in the sun. This is where arbutin comes in—it blocks tyrosinase and keeps dark spots at bay.

Benefits of Arbutin for Skin

Why arbutin is so special? It’s gentler than other skin-brightening ingredients as arbutin’s active component is released slowly, it can be less irritating than other skin-lightening agents and better for those with sensitive skin.

    • Has sun protection properties: Arbutin, derived from the bearberry plant, can reduce the degree of skin darkening after sun exposure by blocking the production of tyrosinase.
    • Gentle on skin: While other skin brightening agents can dry and irritate skin, arbutin is less irritating.
    • Improves uneven complexion: Since arbutin inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in melanin production, it can prevent dark spots and help fade them, leading to a more even complexion.
    • Fades dark spots: If you have dark spots from sun exposure or age, arbutin can help fade their appearance.
    • Safe to use with other skincare products: There are no known negative interactions between arbutin and other skincare ingredients.
    • Can be used twice daily: For maximum results, arbutin can be used both in the morning and at night.
    • Safer than hydroquinone: For a while, hydroquinone was the “miracle” skin-lightening ingredient—until it was declared a carcinogenic by the FDA. While hydroquinone works by killing the cells that produce pigmentation and melanin, arbutin inhibits the enzymes that stimulate pigment-producing cells.
    • Effective at fading scars: Much like its ability to fade dark spots, arbutin is also great at fading those red-purple acne scars that stick around long after a blemish is gone.

Side Effects of Arbutin

Studies on arbutin have all firmly stated that it’s a “safe and effective ingredient for skin lightening.”

Arbutin is available in many skincare products designed to improve pigmentation. Use of these products on a regular basis in your routine will improve your complexion. Arbutin can be a great way to lighten acne scars

How to Use It

Because arbutin is gentler than many other skin brighteners,, it can be used twice daily and in combination with other skin lightening ingredients, such as microdermabrasion, hydrodermabrasion, chemical peels and retinols. We recommend using arbutin twice daily after cleansing, but before any heavy moisturizers.

Check the labels of your current skincare products, you many be surprised to find arbutin in many of these, especially skin brightening products and those designed to address uneven skin tone. While arbutin is mainly in skincare serums, it’s also a superstar ingredient in overnight masks and water creams.

Share The Beauty… Earn Rewards!

At PLEIJ Salon+Spa, we offer a simple and easy referral program to our existing clients (and even non-clients). When you refer a friend who is new to PLEIJ, we’ll give them a 20% OFF GIFT to use towards any service. To say thanks, we’ll give you a 10% OFF GIFT to use toward services or products!

Be sure to learn everything about this awesome program and even send out referrals.

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