Arbutin is a kind white needle crystal or powder, extracted from the leaves of bearberry, could accelerate the decomposition and excretion of melanin, thus reducing pigmentation of the skin and eliminating age spots and freckles, even has an effect of sterilization and anti-inflammatory. Arbutin, also known as b-arbutin, occurs naturally in several different plant species. Plants with the highest known concentrations are bearberry and mulberry. It is also found in blueberry, cranberry, wheat, and pear varieties.
Bearberry has been used for centuries in Europe and North America as a traditional medicine. Before the discovery of modern antibiotics, bearberry was one of the few known naturally-occurring anti-microbial medicines. The antimicrobial activity is due in part to the presence of arbutin. Bearberry is traditionally used to treat urinary tract infections.
Synthetic forms of arbutin, a-arbutin (an isomer of b-arbutin) and deoxyarbutin, can be created by chemical synthesis or by an enzyme-catalyzed process. In in vitro studies, both of a-arbutin and deoxyarbutin appear to have a stronger inhibitory effect on melanin production than b-arbutin.
Alpha Arbutin has a stronger effect than arbutin Beta and is commonly found in skin whitening products . Alpha arbutin is a safer alternative than hydroquinone .