BSI Ingredient Index: Arbutin

Author: Elina | September 12th 2016

If you have shopped around for K-Beauty, you probably have seen or heard of the ingredient, “Arbutin” before. This is a product (made from a berry) known to brighten and add luminosity without drying out sensitive skin.

What is it?

This ingredient is the key to brightening skin and preventing uneven skin tone. Dermatologist Dr. Michael Lin states that, “Arbutin is a molecule extracted from the bearberry plant that prevents the formation of melanin. “ He goes on to describing it as a  natural ingredient that inhibits tyrosinase which are brown spots pigments which can activate anytime when in contact with UV light. This is why sun spots or freckles start developing if in the sun for too long. This is why arbutin is so important—it blocks sun spots and  tyrosinase.



The research team from Ezaki Glico Co, Japanese corporation that produces foods like Pocky and Pretz, discovered that Arbutin had inhibiting effects on human tyrosinase in 2002. Afterwards they published their discovery in various journals and presented the studies at various conferences. Afterwards, skincare products with this skin lightening ingredient has been commercially sold by them and various other skincare companies across the world.


What is it made of?

According to the official Glico site, α-Arbutin is a new type of hydroquinone glucoside with an α-glucosyl bond. The research team of Ezaki Glico Co., Ltd has established the manufacturing process of α-Arbutin using their original transglycosylation enzyme that catalyzes alpha-anomer selective transglycosylation reaction.



The benefits of Arbutin compared to other skin lightening ingredients is that it has a much gentler affect on the skin which prevents irritation. It is much better for those who have sensitive skin. Also, the origin of Arbutin, the bearberry plant, has sun protection properties.


Many products from the K-Beauty world have the ingredient Arbutin such as sheet masks, moisturizers, and toners.


  1. My Beauty Diary Arbutin Whitening Mask


2.  Annie’s Way Arbutin + Hyaluronic Acid Brighting Jelly Mask 250ml


3. Berrisom Animal Mask – Vitamin C + Arbutin



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