Bearberry Extract for Skin Lightening: Does It Work?

Bearberry extract is quickly becoming a darling of the skin lightening – and anti-aging – industry. In a January 2014 episode, Dr. Oz unveiled his whole body anti-aging guide and bearberry extract featured as the good doctor’s choice as the best skin lightening ingredient to fade signs of aging such as age spots.

And more and more companies are catching on to its benefits, as shown by how often this botanical ingredient shows up in skincare products. Read on to find out what it is and what it does for skin whitening.

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What is Bearberry Extract?

Bearberry extract is made from the leaves of the bearberry shrub (whose berries are a favorite food for bears, hence the name).  Its claim to fame? It contains the active agent, arbutin, which naturally lightens and brightens skin. Interestingly, there are 3 types of bearberry shrubs but only the common bearberry, arctostaphylos uva-ursi (fun fact: the Latin name “uva ursi” actually means, “bear grape”), produces arbutin.

So what’s so awesome about arbutin?

For starters, arbutin is a naturally-occurring cousin of hydroquinone – a highly effective but controversial synthetic skin bleaching agent. Like hydroquinone, arbutin works to whiten your skin by inactivating tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for producing melanin.

The difference is that arbutin is a totally natural, botanical-based compound that has the same skin whitening benefits as synthetic hydroquinone – without the side effects or risks.

And arbutin is not the only perk provided by bearberry extract – bearberry leaves have long been used in herbal medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its anti-bacterial effect, especially on urinary tract disorders including infections of the kidney, bladder, and urethra. It’s so effective for treating urinary tract infections that it was the go-to treatment for UTIs before antibiotics were discovered.

As for anti-aging benefits, Dr Oz was right about recommending bearberry extract. The polyphenolic compounds found in bearberry leaves have been shown to have strong antioxidant properties that protect the skin from the visible signs of aging like premature wrinkles and fine lines caused by free radical damage.

Our 2 Cents on Bearberry Extract for Skin Lightening

If you’ve been on the hunt for a safer, natural alternative to hydroquinone – bearberry extract is a godsend. Here’s why:

  • It works as well as hydroquinone for whitening and brightening overall skin tone as well as correcting hyperpigmentation problems like age spots, freckles, melasma, and acne scars.
  • Unlike synthetic hydroquinone which is made by mixing the carcinogen benzene with either propene or carbolic acid (none of which are very nourishing for the skin), bearberry extract is completely natural and brings to the table additional anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Coming from a botanical source, bearberry extract contains antioxidants that protect against free radical damage and UV rays. That means this natural source of hydroquinone won’t form dangerous free radicals when exposed to sunlight, like synthetic hydroquinone does.
  • Bearberry extract contains allantoin, which has soothing, skin-repairing properties. Unlike synthetic hydroquinone, it’s non-irritating and suitable for even sensitive skin.

The Best Bearberry Extract Products for Skin Lightening


babyface-bearberry-reviewKeep in mind that this is a full-strength, very potent extract and it’s not recommended that you use it like this. Instead, simply drop it into your favorite cream or lotion (around 5 to 10 drops per ounce of cream). Make sure you exfoliate your skin first for best results!

Here’s what a few customers had to say…

“I saw this product on Dr. Oz and decided to try this extract for the value. I have been using this on my hands and arms once daily at night for sun damage and freckles. My goal was mostly to just get rid of the freckles and the spotty appearance I was starting to get.

It’s been about 4 weeks and now I’m pleasantly surprised! At first I wasn’t sure if it was working, but I decided I would use it for the full 8 weeks recommended just to give it a good shot and now I can definitely see a large improvement, especially in my hands. They look almost 10 years younger and I couldn’t be more pleased!”

“I have used this product for every night for nearly three weeks and it has definitely improved the hyperpigmentaiton left by past inflammatory acne. It also helps prevent new spots from forming because decreases the activity of the enzyme that produces melesma that causes these unsightly spots.

I don’t dilute this extract and smooth it directly onto my skin along side my vitamin C serum. I have had same post acne spots for years and this is the only product that has done anything to improve my skin tone. I highly recommend this product.” Read more reviews



organic skin lighteningWe love this serum. It’s hydrating, smells yummy and it works damn well while using the most natural ingredients. It’s not just bearberry extract in this one – this serum’s got a potent blend of skin lighteners like kojic acid, bearberry extract, and licorice root as well as antioxidants and natural exfoliants. To top it all off, it has a heap of skin-health-boosting ingredients like hyaluronic acid and MSM. Extra perk? Most of the ingredients used are organic.

Here’s what a few customers had to say about it…

“My sister and I both have acne scars and after not seeing her for a few months, I saw that hers had disappeared. I asked what her secret was and she told me all about this serum. I bought my own and now I’m hooked! Excellent product!”

“Directly addresses my age spots. After too much time in the sun, I’ve developed spots along my forehead and after using this 2 weeks I’ve noticed a diminished appearance of spots. A little bit goes a long way”

“I discovered the Brightening Serum through a friend who recommended it, and let me tell you, it is LIFE CHANGING! I apply two pumps in the morning and before bed – how simple is that? I noticed a difference in my skin tone in literally a week! I am amazed!” Read more reviews



bearberry-face-serumYet another potent serum containing bearberry extract – but this time, it’s got a host of skin plumping and firming ingredients along with it. This is ideal for those of you trying to get rid of dark patches from acne as well as correcting indented acne scars and keeping current acne under wraps. Why? It’s got a potent dose of Niacinamide (an essential ingredient for overall skin health) as well as scar-healing ingredients like sea kelp and emu oil and of course, lovely bearberry extract.

Here’s what a few customers had to say about it…

“I love this product. This is my third bottle, I love the texture of it and this is perfect for my combination sensitive skin. I’ve been using this serum for about 3 months (just about to use up my first bottle), once a day under my moisturizer. I was a little dubious at first about this niacinamide’s acne fighting abilities, but it’s made a huge difference in my skin. Within 2 weeks my skin was totally clear from breakouts, and most of the time it still is, so long as I’m good and use this daily.”

“I’ve been using this for over a year and I love it. Don’t expect instant results, but this absorbs quickly and has removed age and sun spots from my skin, plus many of the fine lines. My face looks plumper…I’ve found the face product that I will use for the rest of my life.” Read more reviews