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Arbutin, vitamin C and niacinamide, how to choose whitening?

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Arbutin, vitamin C and niacinamide, how to choose whitening?

There are many types of whitening essences on the market, and the various ingredients are also dazzling, but which ingredients are the most effective for us? In this issue, let's take a look at arbutin, vitamin C and niacinamide.

Whiten skin 01

【Quick overview】

Vitamin C whitening: inhibiting melanin whitening, the effect is good; vc is unstable and easy to be oxidized and decomposed, which affects the effect.

Niacinamide whitening: Inhibits the shallow shift of melanin, an all-round skin care ingredient; Niacinamide has certain stimulation, so use caution to avoid skin intolerance.

Arbutin whitening: safe, stable and effective whitening, can dilute pigmentation; the effective concentration of arbutin is controlled at 7%, do not use it with acidic products at the same time.

Conclusion: The three whitening ingredients have their own advantages and disadvantages. Choose the right ingredients, choose the right concentration, and use them together, the whitening effect is better.


chemical properties and structure

Arbutin is a glucosylated hydroquinone derivative. There are the following three structures. α-Arbutin: α-Arbutin has good safety, whitening effect and stability; β-Arbutin: The raw material is cheap, and the unit price is less than 1,000 yuan/kg. The raw material unit price of α-arbutin is 4000~8000 yuan/kg; deoxyarbutin: the stability is not good, and it is less used; the chemical structure of arbutin is added to skin care products, and it was first used by Shiseido in Japan started to use this ingredient, and many skin care products still use this ingredient:

Safe use range

The European Commission on Consumer Safety (Scientific Committee OnConsumer Safety, SCCS) believes that the addition of α-arbutin in creams does not exceed 2% and in the body does not exceed 0.5%, and β-arbutin in creams does not exceed 7%. % (less than 0.0001% hydroquinone) is safe. As for its photosensitivity, generally its concentration exceeds 7% to have photosensitivity, but it is forbidden to add to this concentration in general skin care products. So don't worry.

whitening principle

Arbutin mainly blocks the production of melanin by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase (an important enzyme in the process of melanin production), thereby achieving the effect of whitening the skin.

Whitening Cons

Arbutin has photosensitivity, so the concentration should not exceed the standard. Under normal circumstances, the added concentration of arbutin does not exceed 10%, which basically will not have side effects on the skin. Generally, the added concentration is between 5% and 6%, and the upper limit of the added concentration of arbutin in skin care products is 7%. Arbutin will decompose under acidic conditions to produce harmful substances, so avoid using it with vc, salicylic acid, fruit acid and other products at the same time.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has a long history of whitening. Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid because of its strong antioxidant capacity, which makes it unstable and easily decomposed. So now the more commonly used are its derivatives. It is to add an inert group to its active group to make it more stable. Such as: ascorbic acid glucoside (AA2G), a derivative of vitamin C, the whitening products on the market now add vitamin C or its derivatives more or less.

Whitening principle of skin care products containing vitamin C derivative AA2G

The whitening effect of vitamin C is mainly its super antioxidant capacity. It can reduce dopaquinone, an intermediate substance in melanin synthesis, to dopa, block the oxidative chain of melanin production, thereby inhibiting the formation of melanin, and has a whitening effect.

Whitening Cons

Poor stability, easy to oxidize and decompose after sunlight exposure. Vitamin C whitening products should be used at night. If you have to use them during the day, please do a good job of sun protection. In addition, some brands will launch some products that focus on vitamin C derivatives, which also solves the problem of poor stability to a certain extent and can be used during the day. However, if you use VC whitening products during the day to do a good job of sun protection, it must not be superfluous.


Niacinamide has been very windy in recent years. The reason why nicotinamide is so popular is related to its various effects that can be verified by experiments. The effect and working principle that niacinamide can achieve are as follows:

1. Whitening: The mechanism of action is achieved by inhibiting the transport of melanosomes from melanocytes to keratinocytes;

2. Oil control, shrink pores: Niacinamide can control the secretion of sebum and oil, shrink skin pores, and make skin texture delicate;

3. Enhance skin barrier: by stimulating epidermal skin barrier lipids (ceramides) and proteins (keratin, involucrin, filaggrin);

4. Anti-inflammatory: It achieves anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines;

5. Anti-aging: achieved by increasing the production of collagen;

6. Inhibit skin yellowing: achieved by inhibiting protein glycosylation by antioxidants.

The effects of nicotinamide are related to its chemical properties. Nicotinamide is the precursor of the important coenzymes NAD(H) (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and NADP(H) (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). NAD(H) and NADP(H) are involved in many biochemical reactions in the skin, so it has the potential to affect multiple metabolic pathways and thus skin functions that depend on these pathways. For example, NADPH is a cofactor in the synthesis of fatty acids and more complex esters such as ceramides.

Whitening Cons

Relatively speaking, niacinamide can stimulate the skin to a certain extent, and some people will be intolerant to niacinamide.

Security comparison


The arbutin added in the ingredients of general skin care products, if it is not specified as α-arbutin, is generally β-arbutin with cheap raw materials. Because natural arbutin is relatively small, the raw material of arbutin is mostly converted from hydroquinone, and hydroquinone has great toxic and side effects on the skin. The addition of arbutin to skin care products has the potential to convert into hydroquinone. It usually appears in skin care products as complex whitening ingredients.

Vitamin C and its derivatives

As the added concentration is higher, the irritation will become stronger. Vitamin C is known to be an acidic component from its other name, ascorbic acid. Therefore, for some people whose skin itself is not in good condition, or whose barrier is damaged, they will feel tingling;


Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is one of its own vitamins. Therefore, it has no problem with the safety of the human body. There may be two reasons why some people find it irritating to use. First, because the purity of nicotinamide cannot reach 100%, there will be impurities to some extent, which will cause irritation to the skin. The second is because some people who have damaged skin will also feel intolerance. Therefore, skin care products that want to have a more obvious whitening effect will generally reach a higher concentration.

For people whose skin condition is not very good and the barrier is damaged, it is still necessary to repair the skin barrier before whitening. The compound addition of whitening components can effectively block the different steps of blocking melanin production corresponding to each whitening component from each step of melanin production. In fact, it is more common to add several whitening ingredients to achieve the effect of multiplication.

If you want to whiten, it is definitely not something that can be done in one or two days, nor can it be achieved by relying on a single product. VC, niacinamide and arbutin, the three whitening giants, each have their own strengths and weaknesses. How to use the whitening effect is the best, of course, it is combined with the combination. This whitening question can be multiple choice!

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