Post-acne dark spots and dark, brown, age spots are one of the biggest aesthetic skin concerns (even more so than wrinkles!). Dark spots, also known as hyperpigmented spots, are caused by the accumulation of melanin in the skin.
What causes dark spots?
One of the most common causes for dark spots on the skin is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) that appears from a healed skin lesion, such as from acne or eczema. Dark spots can also be caused by damage to the skin due to prolonged sun exposure or hormonal factors.
What is the best way to fade dark spots on the skin?
The first goal is to eliminate the cause of your dark spots. If the cause is acne, the primary treatment would be to control any active acne. If the dark spots are caused by excessive sun exposure, the daily application of an oil-free sunscreen is a must. Once the underlying cause is under control, the next step would be to use a topical dark spot remover to fade the dark spots.
Which dark spot remover should I use?
There are two main types of dark spot removers. The first type of dark spot remover contains hydroquinone (typically 2%) as the main active ingredient, along with a retinoid and an anti-inflammatory agent. These very effective dark spot removers can be purchased in the USA without a prescription. Unfortunately, outside of the USA, hydroquinone requires a doctor's prescription.
The main active ingredient in the second type of dark spot remover is Arbutin, a precursor of hydroquinone that does not require a doctor's prescription. A formulation of Arbutin combined with retinol, AHAs and BHAs have proven to be highly effective in treating dark spots.
What is Arbutin?
Arbutin, the b-D-glucopyranoside derivative of hydroquinone, is a naturally occurring plant-derived compound in the leaves of several different plant species, including barberry, blueberry, cranberry, and pear trees. Arbutin reduces the excessive production of melanin in dark spots through the inhibition of tyrosinase, an enzyme that is involved in the production of melanin. It has been found that Arbutin inhibits tyrosinase activity, reducing the overproduction of melanin while keeping the melanocytes unharmed.
Can Arbutin be used on every skin type?
Arbutin is safe for all skin types, including Asian skin and darker skin types.
Can I use Arbutin in the summer?
Arbutin does not make the skin more sensitive to the sun and can be used safely year-round.
How does Arbutin work with other skincare ingredients?
Arbutin works great with many other common skincare ingredients, including retinol, vitamin C, alpha and beta hydroxy acids, and niacinamide to name a few.
What are the side effects of Arbutin?
There are no known side effects, negative interactions, or contraindications related to Arbutin. Products with Arbutin need to be stored in a cool place, as heat can reduce its efficacy.
How to chose an Arbutin-based dark spot corrector?
The best dark spot removers will contain a combination of ingredients that will soothe optional efficacy, with minimal skin irritation. To be effective, a perfect dark spot remover would need to include in addition to Arbutin ingredients like glycolic and salicylic acid that would exfoliate the skin and help arbutin penetrate to a deeper layer of skin, where the melanin resides. The best dark spot removers will also include a few anti-inflammatory agents, like bisabolol, that reduce skin redness and irritation. An example of such a product is MDacne advanced Dark remover. Inspired by the gold standard Kligman’s formula, it includes Arbutin, bearberry extract, and gooseberry (a plant extract rich in Vitamin C) to reduce the excessive production of melanin in the dark spots. It also includes glycolic acid (AHA), salicylic acid (BHA), and a retinoid to help with skin penetration and alpha-bisabolol, a plant extract to reduce skin irritation.
How do I use the MDacne's Advanced Dark Spot Remover?
The MDacne Advanced Dark Spot Remover uses Arbutin to fade dark spots. Arbutin should be used once a day in the evening after thoroughly cleansing the skin.