Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Gopika Suresh (Journalist)  on 23rd Dec 2020

How to get rid of or remove dark spots on the face with Alpha Arbutin and Niacinamide

How to get rid of or remove dark spots

You must have heard of those holy grail skincare products - the ones that work for almost every skin type and concern, especially dark spots. Well, niacinamide and alpha arbutin tops the list. Let's see what these exciting ingredients are all about. 

What is Niacinamide?  

Also referred to as nicotinamide and vitamin B3, niacinamide is soluble in water. Vitamin B3 is often found in foods like whole grains and greens. However, synthetically, it is made use in serums and moisturizers. Niacinamide offers various benefits to the skin, such as pore minimization, anti-aging, improving uneven skin tone, and providing brightness. Most of us are victims of environmental pollution that brings slow death to our skin. However, by creating a protective sheath over one's skin, niacinamide is excellent for all skin types.  

Why should one use niacinamide? 

Interestingly, the compound is compatible with almost all other products that are part of the skincare regime, from retinol to vitamin C. Studies suggest that it works wonders when used along with zinc and hyaluronic acid. Moreover, niacinamide can be used on sensitive or rosacea-prone skin as well. For those with dry skin, your best bet at getting perfect skin can be achieved with niacinamide, as it helps in water retention.  

What niacinamide skincare product must you choose?  

Most of the time, in the market, niacinamide comes in the form of serums. Including a good niacinamide serum in your routine, along with cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, will help reduce the dark spots on your skin.

Many/several topical niacinamide products come in the form of serums. You may apply your niacinamide serum after toning, however, before moisturizing.

Niacinamide isn't just limited to serums. It can be found in several cleansers, creams, and face masks as well.

Please read the instructions and include them in your routine according to the product you are using. 

How to make use of it? 

For best results, use niacinamide twice daily. If you are using a serum, you could even mix it with your moisturizer. It's concentrations vary according to concerns. Research suggests that five percent formulas are useful for treating hyperpigmentation and dark spots. 

Will there be any side effects?

Some may notice slight redness or discomfort around sensitive areas like the eye after using a niacinamide serum. However, you needn't be too concerned about it. Nevertheless, make sure to test a dime-sized amount of serum on your forearm for twenty-four hours before applying it on your face, and look out for any unusual reactions.  

When can one begin to see results?  

Although it's tempting to look for changes within a day or two of using the serum, remember that just like any other skincare product, niacinamide takes time to show results. Although research and users claim to have seen improvements in four weeks, there is no exact timeline. That being said, one may gradually begin to see changes after using the serum diligently for about eight weeks or so. The skin would seem smoother, hydrated, and toned.

However, if one doesn't see any changes in months, it is time to reassess the product as it may not be working for you. You could consult a dermatologist to understand what products work well for your skin.  

Minimalist's Niacinamide Serums

You may check out Minimalist's Niacinamide 10% + Zinc serum, which is both fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, keeping your skin healthy and flawless. Suppose your skin is towards the drier or sensitive side.

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In that case, you could try a hand at our Niacinamide 5% + Hyaluronic Acid 1% serum.

Niacinamide 5% Face Serum
Niacinamide 5% Face Serum
Niacinamide 5% Face Serum
Niacinamide 5% Face Serum

Niacinamide 5% Face Serum

₹ 595

When to use: AM / PM

Frequency: Everyday

View details

Next, we bring to you alpha-arbutin, which may not be as famous as vitamin C, or kojic acid, but does the magic! It is safe on all skin types & is found in several skincare and makeup products these days. Please continue reading to know more about alpha-arbutin! 

What is Arbutin?  

Dermatologist Michael Lin, MD, practicing in Los Angeles, claims that

Arbutin is a molecule that the bearberry plant produces. It's the biggest job to prevent melanin formation. that arbutin is much more gentle than its other skin brightening counterparts, such as licorice roots obtained from the licorice plant and kojic acid derived from mushrooms. All these, including arbutin, work as tyrosinase inhibitors. This means that the natural ingredients provide skin lightening and brightening effects.   

You may sometimes notice brown spots on your skin. These come from certain pigments that are produced in cells known as melanocytes. Melanocytes have enzymes called tyrosinase. These enzymes activate themselves when exposed to ultraviolet light.

This is why specialists/experts advise you not to be under UV light for long periods and, most importantly, to wear sunscreen. If you haven't followed those steps, you may notice the formation of freckles and sunspots on your skin.

Alpha arbutin begins to do its magic here - it ensures that no dark spots are formed by blocking the enzyme tyrosinase that creates them.

If you have come this far, you probably know the benefits of arbutin and what it is. However, there are two forms of arbutin, and it is essential to differentiate between the two. Alpha arbutin is excellent for the skin; however, beta arbutin is a less stable and inexpensive version, making alpha-arbutin the safer alternative. So, while you are buying a product, make sure to read the ingredients list to know what you are applying/putting on your skin exactly. Alpha arbutin is also heat resistant, stable under light, and water-soluble.  

What is Alpha Arbutin? 

Alpha arbutin is an ingredient that occurs naturally. It is a derivative of hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is another famous skin lightening agent. As we mentioned earlier, alpha arbutin is obtained from dried bearberry, blueberry, and cranberry leaves. Studies suggest an excellent skin lightening agent that fades pigmentation and spots caused due to breakouts or sun damage.

Your skin tone is determined by the amount of melanin in your skin. Melanin is produced by tyrosinase, an enzyme that is found in melanocyte cells. Tyrosinase gets activated when your skin comes in contact with harsh UV light. Alpha arbutin comes into the picture here as it blocks the activity of the tyrosinase. By doing so, it slows down the process of pigmentation caused due to the UV rays. Hence, this keeps dark spots at bay. 

Benefits Of Using Alpha Arbutin 

1. Reduces pigmentation and dark spots  

Alpha arbutin produces excellent results by blocking the activity of the enzyme tyrosinase. This decreases the melanin production on your skin—the lesser the melanin and tyrosinase, the more deficient pigmentation and dark spots you will have. Doing so leads to a more even complexion too.

Whether you are looking to reduce post blemish redness, acne scars, or age spots, alpha arbutin can do a great job at minimizing them all! It is excellent for keeping freckles and liver spots under control too!  

2. Helps in lightening of the skin  

Alpha arbutin is very good at reducing the tan on your skin that takes ages to go away. It does so by reducing the amount of melanin production on your skin. This natural ingredient is capable of treating conditions like melasma, in which the person suffers from skin discoloration and tan.  

3. Provides an even skin tone  

Regularly using alpha-arbutin will reduce any sunspots' appearance or discolored patches on your skin as it reduces melanin production. This will even out your skin and give you a brighter complexion, making your skin look healthier. 

4. Safer Option Than Hydroquinone 

Several experts claim that alpha-arbutin is a safer option than hydroquinone. Hydroquinone kills the cells that produce melanin, which in turn causes pigmentation. However, alpha arbutin blocks the action of tyrosinase and the pigment-producing cells.  

5. Gentle on Skin 

Some of you may have noticed that brightening ingredients sometimes dry out your skin too much. Sometimes, if you have sensitive skin, they can give you more concerns. However, alpha arbutin is exceptionally gentle on the skin and is a great option regardless of the skin type you have. Due to the presence of active components released very slowly, it is less drying and irritating.  

How To Use Alpha Arbutin?

You could use alpha-arbutin twice daily. For best results, use it and other cleaners, skin lightening gels, creams, masks, chemical peels, and serums. 

Try out Minimalist's Kojic Acid 2% + Alpha Arbutin 1%, which is non-comedogenic and fragrance-free. It is made of a powerful anti-pigmentatin duo that removes blemishes and dark spots to give you even-toned, brighter-looking skin.  


Alpha arbutin and niacinamide are undoubtedly great natural ingredients that can do wonders to your skin, especially if you are looking for an even-toned, brighter complexion. However, like any other ingredient, remember that they take time and regular usage to see results. So, make sure you are patient. Although they are mild, remember to do a patch test first.