Is Meladerm naturally good for skin lightening?

NancyM on 12 Feb 2008 at 12:00am

Skin lighteners which include hydroquinone occasionally have some negative reports about their long term effects, but Meladerm claims to be safer way to address a wide array of skin damage:

  • Hyperpigmentation / Dark discolorations
  • Age / Liver spots / Sun spots
  • Freckles
  • Tans / Sun damage
  • Melasma / Chloasma
  • Acne marks
  • Old scars
  • Birthmarks
  • Dark elbows, knees, underarms, knuckles
  • Uneven skin tones

Meladerm represents it's active ingredients of kojic acid and alpha-arbutin as a more natural means of addressing these skin conditions.  But before you run out and buy a year's supply of Meladerm, note that Meladerm usage is not necessary over the long-term as a skin lightener. The company states that Meladerm efficacy "plateaus" after 3 or 4 months. Meladerm manufacturer Civant Skin Care stated in a note to RealSelf.com that "Rather than ‘milking’ customers as some companies will do, we are honest in stating that the product does not have to be purchased indefinitely."

It may be the case that Arbutin is not all that different from hydroquinone. Dermatologist Arnold Oppenheim, MD calls Arbutin "a swarmy, sweet first cousin of hydroquinone. This is my way of saying that Arbutin is glycosylated hydroquinone....hydroquinone with a glucose (sugar) molecule attached. It in fact turns into hydroquinonie as it is broken down. Like hydroquinone it supresses pigment prodcution by inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme."

A Civant Skin Care representative counters that, while agreeing with Dr. Oppenheim's comments, "it refers to the normal form of Arbutin, otherwise known as Beta-Arbutin (hydroquinone-beta-D- glucopyranoside). Our product, Meladerm does not use this ingredient. Alternatively, we use a completely different form of Arbutin known as Alpha-Arbutin (4-Hydroxyphenyl-alpha-D-glucopyranoside). This form of Arbutin does not break down to hydroquinone and consequently does not pose the same side effects." 

The Meladerm reviews and product feedback we've found on the web range from extreme happiness to disappointment in the results.  Do you think Meladerm is safe and worth it when it comes to lightening and whitening skin?