In Malaysia, people are motivated to look for skin lightening/brightening solution. There is a common believe that ‘white’ or fairer complexion is more desirable in term of beauty.
Hence, we have skin lightening/brightening trend here and products with claims of reducing hyperpigmentation or reducing dark spots are highly sought after.

R&D chemists will commonly find Arbutin as the functional active in developing skin care product.
However, there are many actives in the market with the same function, but we just want to focus on Arbutin today.

For your information, alpha or beta is just an isomer of Arbutin. They are siblings but opposite looks due to optical isomer structure (shown above). However, they function similarly as antioxidants, bleaching and skin conditioning agent. Suppliers may claim that they have better Arbutin than others.

Theoretically, Alpha Arbutin should have higher efficacy than Beta Arbutin.

In 2015, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) assessed the safety of Alpha-arbutin and Beta-arbutin and published two opinions. The SCCS concluded that the use of Alpha-arbutin up to a concentration of 2% in face creams and 0.5% in body lotions was safe for consumers. Beta-arbutin was considered safe for consumers when used up to a concentration of 7% in face creams and provided that the contamination of hydroquinone in the cosmetic formulations remained below 1 ppm.

No matter you are looking for Alpha or Beta arbutin, I believe we need to try the sample first to know the efficacy of the product. What are the factors leading to different efficacy?

When arbutin is added to cosmetic products, hydroquinone can be produced to a different level depending on storage conditions. When arbutin is applied to the skin, hydroquinone can be produced by exposure to skin microorganisms or ultraviolet radiation (UVR). There remains a small amount of hydroquinone, which produced as a decomposition product of arbutin. It contributes to the inhibition of melanin synthesis or the inactivation of tyrosinase activity in cells. Nevertheless, the majority of evidence supports that arbutin has intrinsic properties that inhibit cellular melanogenesis and reduce cellular tyrosinase activity regardless of hydroquinone release.

Some studies mentioned that beta arbutin is less likely to produce excess hydroquinone that might damage the skin. Beta-arbutin is also recognized as Quasi-drug in Japan compared to alpha-arbutin which can be only used in cosmetic application. Quasi-drug is another level of safety when it comes to topical application. As there are restriction of dosage, it becomes more safe and controlled in finished product. Perhaps then, beta-arbutin could be the one that you are looking for.

What is Quasi-drug?
Quasi-drugs are a unique product classification in Japan. A quasi-drug is defined in Japan as a product that has minimal to moderate pharmacologic activity but is restricted in use to specific indications. Quasi-drugs in Japan include categories of products that are often defined as drugs, cosmetics, or Over-the-Counter (OTC) products in other regions.

Next, let’s talk about the appearance and attributes. Both Alpha and Beta Arbutin are white to off white powder and also soluble in water. It is added at the last stage of formulation. We always concern whether the Arbutin is heat stable, the pH tolerance, the recommended dosage and the time efficacy. (eg:- 2 weeks to see a visible result proven by in-vivo or ex-vivo)
Please let us know your preference. We will source for your needs in making a good skin lightening/brightening personal care product.