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Three Natural Compounds to Manage Brown Spots: Part One

Liver spots (age spots) are the natural consequence of chronic sun exposure. This column is the first in a series over the next 3 months in which I'll review 3 natural compounds that help to normalize melanin output and promote even pigment distribution for the appearance of even-toned, younger looking skin.

As the safety concerns mount for the traditional prescription therapy of hydroquinone, I've been looking for a while now into safer, more natural ingredients to help lighten pigment.

The first is alpha-arbutin, a compound derived from the leaves of the bearberry plant. It has a strong inhibitory effect on the enzyme tyrosinase, which makes melanin. Human skin treated with alpha-arbutin has 60% less melanin synthesis compared to control skin.

The ability of alpha-arbutin to darmatically decrease melanin production has translated into some impressive findings in human studies, showing that it works more quickly than other agents. In one study of 80 patients, scientists compared alpha-arbutin to hydroquinone and kojic acid. They found that the alpha-arbutin increased skin lightness 60% more than hydroquinone and 25% more than kojic acid, after just one month.

Another study showed that after 3 months, 80% of patients showed noticeable reduction in brown spots with topically applied alpha-arbutin.

For my patients, I compound in my office my signature Brightening Serum, with up to 8% alpha-arbutin. Stay tuned for next month and another holistic option for lightening those pesky spots. 

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