Our site is reader-supported. When you buy a product via our links, we may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Read full disclosure here.
Table of Contents
- What Is Tranexamic Acid?
- What Is Alpha Arbutin?
- Good Molecules Discoloration Correction Serum.
- The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA.
- An Honest Experience With The Combination Of Tranexamic Acid And Alpha Arbutin.
- In Conclusion.
- Possible Questions & Answers.
Alright, we all know (except you’re living in a cave) that tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin are all melanin inhibitors when it comes to skincare, and both actives have been used individually for this purpose for a long time. But have you thought of what could happen when both are used together?, Well, this thought came into my head, and I didn’t ruminate around it for long before deciding to put these two combos into practical test. So, I decided to combine tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together into a skincare routine on a hyperpigmented-affected area, just to see how effective these bioactive are.
But before we plunge into that, lets quickly know what these ingredients are, for the sake of the newbies.
What Is Tranexamic Acid?
Tranexamic acid is synthetically derived from the amino acid lysine. Traditionally, tranexamic acid is a drug used to treat heavy bleeding during menstrual period. Tranexamic acid works by slowing the breakdown of blood clots, which helps to prevent prolonged bleeding. It belongs to a class of drugs known as antifibrinolytics.
But asides that, skincare scientists discovered its skin de-pigmenting potentials which helps tackle skin discoloration such as hyperpigmentation, by inhibiting melanocytes, thereby curbing excess production of melanin and simultaneously blocks the transfer of pigment from melanocytes to keratinocytes in the epidermis.
What Is Alpha Arbutin?
Alpha arbutin is naturally derived from bearberry plant, it’s also found in cranberries, blueberries, wheat, and pears. Alpha arbutin prevents the formation of melanin, as it functions as a tyrosinase inhibitor to provide skin lightening and brightening effects. It does this by gradually but effectively reducing melanin production in the skin, which contributes to skin luminosity.
To test the efficacy of tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together, I decided to go for products containing only these active ingredients. Having said that, I reached out for Good Molecules Discoloration Correction Serum, which contains 2% tranexamic acid derivative (cetyl tranexamate mesylate) and 4% niacinamide to enhance skin barrier function, alongside The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA, which contains 2% alpha arbutin and hyaluronic acid for skin hydration.
These product-combination was used for five (5) weeks on dark spots-affected area.
Good Molecules Discoloration Correction Serum.
This formula contains cetyl tranexamate mesylate (a tranexamic acid derivative), due to the fact that tranexamic acid doesn’t penetrate deep into the skin, because it cannot mix with our skin lipids, led to the use of its derivative – cetyl tranexamate mesylate, which is Lipophilic meaning “lipid loving” and can mix into our skin lipids, from there it provides a steady release of the active compound and attack discoloration at deeper pathways. It also contains 4% niacinamide to soothe irritation and redness and also improve skin tone, texture and barrier function. Read full review here.
The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA.
The Ordinary alpha arbutin serum contain 2% alpha arbutin to help fade dark spots and melasma. It also contains hyaluronic acid (HA) which helps pull moisture from the atmosphere to the skin to hydrate skin surface, leaving the skin well hydrated and plump. Read full review here.
An Honest Experience With The Combination Of Tranexamic Acid And Alpha Arbutin.
This practical-experimental review was done on a dark spots-affected area of a volunteer using tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together everyday both morning (AM) and night (PM) for five (5) weeks. While sunscreen was applied religiously during the day to protect the skin from UVA and UVB exposure. And exfoliation was also observed.
First Week Of Usage.
At first week of everyday treatment using tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together on the dark spots-affected area, there was a slight decrement in spots appearance with a slight improvement in skin-tone around the area.
Second Week Of Usage.
The improvement started becoming very obvious as the dark spots were visibly fading while skin area brightened up. While on this treatment, sunscreen was religiously applied upon pre-exposure to sunlight to protect skin from UV rays of the sun.
Third Week Of Usage.
This was when the real difference started. The hyperpigmented area improved obviously, as the spots looked more lighter, and almost invisible (as compared to its previous looks), while skin complexion area looked more brighter, glowy and healthy.
Fourth Week Of Usage.
The treatment was continued with dedication and consistency, while also making sure sunscreen is used during the day. With every week that passes by comes a slight improvement on the dark spots-affected area and also overall skin complexion in general.
Fifth Week Of Usage.
At fifth week of everyday treatment (supplemented with everyday sunscreen and weekly exfoliation), the dark spots are almost completely faded. Skin area looks brighter and beautiful which was 3-times better than it previously-looked.
The experimental review of using tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together on pigment-affected skin was stopped at the fifth week of usage as it’s believed that the job was almost done, and with continuous-usage will fade dark spots and other skin discoloration overtime — as hyperpigmentation (especially the old ones) are pretty stubborn to get rid-off. The key is to remain consistent in treatment and always use sunscreen to prevent future re-darkening of treated area by the UV rays of the sun.
While treating the dark spots affected area with tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together, products were also used on the entire face too. That’s to say, not only hyperpigmented area was treated, but the whole face, but more attention was given to the affected area as to prove the efficacy of both hyperpigmentation-hitting ingredients. That’s to say, not only can you spot-treat with tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together, but can also apply both on the entire face to improve overall skin complexion for a brighter and glowing skin.
While performing this practical-experiment, skin-exfoliation was observed weekly using The Ordinary AHA & BHA peeling solution . A mild peeling solution which was used once-weekly on the skin pigmented area, to help potentiate effectiveness. While sunscreen was religiously applied.
Pairing tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together is way to go if you have severe hyperpigmentation, especially if you kinda need to fasten the result, but patience and consistency needs to play their role while on this treatment because results aren’t going to take-effect overnight. Therefore, be consistent on treatment while being patient enough until your goal is accomplished. Don’t forget to do a patch test prior to commencing treatment of these two actives and don’t forget to use your sunscreen daily before exploring your outdoor activities to protect your skin from sun exposure.
Disclaimer: This practical-experimental review was performed on a subject whom voluntarily participated in this experiment to test the efficacy of tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together on hyperpigmentation.
Possible Questions & Answers.
Q: How did you apply tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together?
A: In this experimental-review, layering method was utilized. And according to skincare layering rule, apply from the “thinnest to the thickest“. Which typically means, during skincare product application, start with products with thin texture followed by products with thicker texture.
- Step 1: Volunteer’s face was cleansed using ZapZyt Acne Wash Cleanser.
- Step 2: While skin is slightly damp (not too damp), volunteer’s face was hydrated either by using HadaLabo hyaluronic acid serum or a hydrating toner.
- Step 3: Tranexamic acid was applied first, wait for one minute to fully absorb, before plunging ahead to apply The Ordinary alpha arbutin serum.
The reason tranexamic acid serum was applied first is because The Good Molecules Discoloration Correction serum has a little less thicker texture than The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA.
However, if your tranexamic acid formula is thicker in texture, then go with your alpha arbutin formula first. – remember the skincare rule, “thinnest to the thickest“.
But if both formula’s texture are the same, then it doesn’t matter which goes first or not.
Q: Is tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin compatible together?
A: Yes, both active ingredients are compatible to use together as they don’t render each other ineffective, neither do they sensitize the skin or stimulate skin cell turnover which makes them synergetic to tackle stubborn hyperpigmentation. However, I always advice to perform a patch test to test for allergy before using any skincare product. Same applies to both actives too (tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin).
Q: Did you encounter breakout or irritation while using tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together?
A: During the experimental-review, subject never encountered or experienced any form of breakouts or irritations while using both actives.
Q: Must I use tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin morning and night?
A: No you mustn’t. This practical-experimental review was done using both actives morning and night for more targeted treatment. But if you don’t wish to use them in the morning, then you can use them at night-time only (especially if it’s going to complicate your morning skincare routine). Don’t forget to use your sunscreen during the day to protect skin from sun exposure.
Q: What sunscreen was used in this experimental-review?
A: Missha Aqua Sun Gel sunscreen was used in this experimental-review – an organic (Chemical) Sunblock, which contains 50+ UVA and UVB protection, which includes aging and burning ray protection, meant for everyday use. This sunscreen is made in Korea. Read full review here.
Q: Can I use a single-product containing both actives?
A: Of course you can. Although there aren’t much skincare products containing both tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin together, but if you should come across one, you can go for it, regarding it’s skin-safe to use (or doesn’t contain other harsh ingredients that can irritate the skin).
Q: Is the combination of tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin pregnancy-safe?
A: While tranexamic acid is considered pregnancy-safe, alpha arbutin isn’t. Reason being that alpha-arbutin break down to hydroquinone in skin, which is advised to stay off it while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Don’t get it twisted, alpha arbutin is plant derived, which makes it natural and safe to use on the skin. Although it serves same skin de-pigmenting potentials as hydroquinone, but without its side effects. But when it comes to using alpha arbutin during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it’s best to be avoided. Do well to consult with your doctor prior to commencing any skincare product during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. You can read ingredients to avoid during pregnancy.
Q: Can I use tranexamic acid and alpha arbutin products from another brand?
Disclaimer: This is a personal experience with Good Molecules Discoloration Correction Serum and The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin + HA, you may have a whole different experience as skin type differs so as result differs too.