With their newly found fame, alpha arbutin serums are the hottest additions to any hyperpigmentation skincare routine. So anyone who’s dealing with an uneven skin tone, dark spots from sun damage, or other discolorations will benefit from alpha arbutin serums because arbutin is the new anti-pigmentation hero.
But if you’re new to the ingredient and want to get to know it better, which you should, a few quick facts will help you better understand which alpha arbutin serum is the best one for your skin.
Arbutin, also called beta arbutin, is a plant-derived compound used in skin care to treat hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. It works by preventing the formation and progression of melanin production.
As melanin is what gives you dark spots on your skin, arbutin is an excellent skincare ingredient to add to your routine to deal with any skin discolorations.
Arbutin is actually a derivative of hydroquinone but works very differently than that. Arbutin is much gentler on the skin and does not bear the irritating effects of hydroquinone. This is where its association with hydroquinone ends.
But there’s one more thing you should know about arbutin. It has a synthetic version called alpha arbutin. It’s a more effective and more stable version. And alpha-arbutin is what we’re going to focus on today.
How To Choose an Alpha Arbutin Serum
First things first. I’ve mentioned that alpha-arbutin is the stable and generally more effective form of arbutin. So ideally, look for alpha-arbutin in your serums. And know that if the product says arbutin, it means it’s beta arbutin.
You might be thinking why people would go for beta arbutin when alpha arbutin is the more effective version. For one, it’s more popular among people who prefer natural products.
But beta arbutin is not all bad. And there are amazing arbutin serums that effectively help with dark spots and hyperpigmentation too. The thing is with plant-derived ingredients, there are a lot of variables that may affect the benefits.
For example, bearberry leaves are the most common plant source for arbutin. But even the location where those berries grow, how and when arbutin is extracted have an influence. So it’s really difficult to ensure that beta arbutin will deliver what it’s supposed to.
For that reason, if you’re going for a beta arbutin serum, cover all your bases and make sure it has other ingredients that help with dark spots too. For example, besides arbutin, look for vitamin C, azelaic acid, niacinamide, or tranexamic acid in your serums.
This is true for alpha-arbutin serums too. Having multiple anti-discoloration ingredients will maximize your results. Additionally, keep in mind that some dark spots form as a result of sun exposure.
So antioxidants like vitamin C should in fact be in your alpha arbutin serum if you have mature skin and sun damage. If you’re ready, I’ve gathered some amazing options ahead.
The Best Alpha Arbutin Serums
Below are the best alpha arbutin serums for hyperpigmentation.
This is the most popular alpha arbutin serum out there because it’s both effective and affordable. And it’s one of the few serums you can find alpha-arbutin in an isolated form where it’s not accompanying other brighteners. It’s made with 2% alpha arbutin paired with hyaluronic acid. And because it has a lightly emollient base, it’s gentle on all skin types. You can safely use the serum to tackle dark spots, uneven skin tone, and acne marks. In case you’re not satisfied with this formula, The Ordinary has another alpha arbutin serum. That one is oil-free and made with pure vitamin C. So if you don’t have sensitive skin, and your skin can tolerate something more potent, you can try Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%.
This is another serum with 2% alpha arbutin that doesn’t put a dent in your wallet. And it’s made with replenishing hyaluronic acid and squalane in 0.5 % to hydrate and moisturize without clogging pores. It has a very light texture and simply disappears into the skin. It’s comfortable to use and suitable for all skin types too. So whether it’s dark spots or dark patches that are giving you uneven skin tone, this is an overall effective and budget-friendly alpha arbutin serum.
This one packs all that is brightening on God’s green earth. Because it comes with pure vitamin C in 20%, which is the best when it comes to fending off free radicals. And besides alpha arbutin, the serum has ferulic acid to ensure stability and for added brightening benefits. Plus, it has niacinamide and kojic acid for maximum effects. You really don’t leave anything to chance because at least one of these anti-pigmentation goodies is going to work on those stubborn dark spots. The serum also has a really replenishing base made with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5. And if 20% is too much for your skin, try Even Tone Super Glow Serum. It’s a very similar formula made with 10% vitamin C as well as alpha arbutin.
iS Clinical is another brand that utilizes both alpha and beta arbutin in its serums. This particular one, however, is superior in my opinion. Because its benefits are two-fold. The serum gently exfoliates the skin. And there’s barely any problem that exfoliation doesn’t solve. It contains natural plant extracts that are rich in alpha and beta hydroxy acids like glycolic and salicylic. That’s why it’s gentle and non-irritating. And of course, it has alpha arbutin to directly target dark spots. If you have other concerns like overall dehydration, dryness, fine lines, and dullness, this alpha arbutin serum, though a splurge, is the one to go for.
This is a water-based alpha arbutin serum in case you have oily skin and are prone to acne and going for oil-free options. In addition to 2% alpha arbutin, the serum utilizes several humectants to simply hydrate. Hyaluronic acid, aloe, polyglutamic acid, and glycerin plump up the skin and hydrate without clogging pores. And it’s all alpha arbutin. So the budget-friendly face serum offers a great way to test out the active ingredient and see how it works for your skin.
This is another potent and effective serum for hyperpigmentation. Because it has lactic and mandelic acid for superficial exfoliation that doesn’t impart peeling or irritation. And to clear up dark spots, it has vitamin C, kojic acid, and azelaic acid. The latter is an exceptional one for reducing redness and dark spots from acne too. But this is not an alpha arbutin serum, but a beta arbutin serum. But there are enough skin brighteners here that make up for the lack of that alpha presence. So in spite of the beta version, this is an overall powerful serum for fading dark spots, brightening the skin, and reversing free radical damage at the same time.
There’s no denying that vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that also helps brighten the skin and stimulate collagen production. That’s why we love it when dark spots or wrinkles are concerned. But if you haven’t noticed, pure vitamin C can sometimes irritate certain skin types. And that’s where derivatives come in. They’re gentle, stable, and equally effective. And for those of you who are looking for an alpha arbutin serum made with vitamin C but intimidated by the pure form, this one is amazing. It packs different forms of vitamin C for cumulative anti-aging and brightening benefits. And it’s encapsulated to avoid irritation. And it has alpha arbutin to zero in on dark spots. So use it as an overall potent antioxidant serum to protect your skin, a brightening serum to reduce dark spots, or an anti-aging night serum to boost collagen.
So these are some of the best alpha arbutin serums you can use to reduce hyperpigmentation on the skin. Most arbutin serums are for morning and evening use.
So unless stated otherwise, you can safely use your serum during the day, especially the ones with vitamin C, as well as during your evening skincare routine.
As these are serums, get a pea-sized amount and apply your product on clean, dry skin. And follow with your creams and moisturizers.