I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking me if arbutin is more effective than kojic acid when it comes to skin whitening so I finally decided to do an extensive research about this topic. Arbutin and kojic acid has one thing in common – it whitens your skin. Both are very good and effective in reducing melanin (dark pigment), but which one is more effective? First, we’ll take a look at the different forms of arbutin and kojic acid, then we’ll tackle how stable they are when added to skincare products and last, I’ll give you my personal recommendation.
What are the different types of arbutin and kojic acid?
Arbutin comes in two types: alpha arbutin and beta arbutin. Arbutin comes from bearberry, cranberry, mulberry and blueberry leaves. This is basically a plant-derived skin whitening ingredient, which is definitely a much safer alternative to hydroquinone (HQ) but has the same exact skin whitening effect. It’s has the ability to inhibit melanin formation (dark spots) and can also make your skin look brighter. Alpha arbutin is more superior when it comes to skin whitening than beta arbutin and it’s definitely more stable. Stability in skin whitening ingredients is definitely crucial since this determines if the product is still effective once it reaches you and whenever you’re ready to use it.
****For those of you who don’t know – HQ is the “grandmother” of all skin whitening ingredients but it’s very toxic as well.
Kojic acid comes in two forms as well: kojic acid and kojic acid dipalmitate. Kojic acid is from rice wine called sake and it’s originally from Japan. Like arbutin, it’s also a good skin whitening agent and has been proven to whiten skin tone, however, the problem with kojic acid is its stability. Kojic acid is not a stable ingredient. What happens is whenever it’s exposed to air or hot temperature, it turns to a brownish or caramel-looking color. Once this happens, the lotion or cream is no longer effective and will not give you the skin whitening benefit that you’re looking for. The change in color is what they call “oxidation.” Kojic acid in soap and toner is ok and should not be a problem since it’s normally stable in soap and toner form but the oxidation problem starts when it’s added to creams and lotions. Another type of kojic acid ingredient that’s available is the dipalmitate form. Kojic acid dipalmitate isn’t really that effective in skin whitening – so don’t even bother.
Stability comparison of arbutin and kojic acid:
Alpha arbutin – Stable. Superior/more effective than the beta form and doesn’t oxidize.
Beta arbutin – Stable, however, the Alpha arbutin is more effective. Doesn’t oxidize.
Kojic acid – Not stable at all. Turns brownish/caramel – no longer effective when this happens in creams and lotion.
Kojic acid dipalmitate – Stable but not effective in skin whitening
My personal recommendation:
I would strongly recommend using an alpha-arbutin-based cream or lotion due to the fact that it’s extremely potent and it’s very stable. It guarantees skin whitening effect no matter what temperature it’s in. Skin whitening products are not made to order. Most manufacturers produce hundreds of products at a time and it’s more beneficial to a consumers like myself to order a skin whitening product that has a stable ingredient so that I don’t have to worry about its effectiveness. For soaps and toners, it’s ok to use kojic acid.
If you still want to buy a kojic acid cream or lotion after reading this article, then please make sure that it has kojic acid and not kojic dipalmitate to achieve the skin whitening results that you’re looking for. Also make sure that the cream or lotion hasn’t turned brownish or caramel-looking color because once it does, it’s not effective anymore and will not whiten your skin and you’re just wasting your money.
****Updated: I just bought the Marie France Tone Perfecting Creme and has been using it for my butt and inner thighs (dark down there) and my underarms. I can see it my dark areas lightening up but based on my research, you have to use it for several weeks for maximum results*****