Arbutin and alpha-arbutin are both natural skin lightening ingredients derived from the bearberry plant. The main difference between the two is their chemical structure and potency.
Arbutin is a glycoside, which means it is a molecule that contains a sugar molecule (glucose) attached to a phenol group. Arbutin is a relatively unstable compound that breaks down easily when exposed to heat and light, which can reduce its effectiveness. It is also less potent than alpha-arbutin, meaning it may take longer to see results.
Alpha-arbutin, on the other hand, is a more stable and potent form of arbutin. It is created by chemically modifying arbutin to remove the glucose molecule, resulting in a compound that is more easily absorbed by the skin and less likely to break down over time. Alpha-arbutin is considered one of the most effective skin lightening ingredients available and is often used in high-end skincare products.
Both arbutin and alpha-arbutin work by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in the production of melanin. By reducing the production of melanin, these ingredients can help to brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
It's worth noting that while arbutin and alpha-arbutin are generally considered safe and effective skin lightening ingredients, some people may experience skin irritation or sensitivity. If you are considering using a product containing arbutin or alpha-arbutin, it's a good idea to patch test it first and discontinue use if you experience any adverse reactions.