Skin Lightening: Is Meladerm safe?

NancyM on 5 Feb 2008 at 11:01am

Interesting post over on The Beauty Brain today about Meladerm, a skin lightener. The question is whether Meladerm is safe for long-term use. The interesting thing about the response quoted below is how the company that makes the product admits that use should be discontinued after three or four months because effects tend to "plateau."

First about the ingredients:

1) Arbutin is extracted from Bearberry (Uva Ursi) and is natural occurring substance, unlike synthetic hydroquinone. Arbutin is present not only in the Bearberry plant, but also found in many plant-derived foods. Arbutin can be converted into hydroquinone when introduced to very alkaline conditions. These conditions however are uncommon and most definitely do not occur on the skin. Gastric fluids are known to be alkaline, but the Arbutin would have to be taken orally for it to enter the gastrointestinal tract. Our product, Meladerm, uses Alpha-Arbutin as opposed to regular (beta) Arbutin. Alpha-Arbutin is considered the most stable and effective form of Arbutin and does not readily hydrolyze into hydroquinone.

Arbutin and hydroquinone each have a different chemical composition and differ greatly in their skin lightening properties. Arbutin inhibits melanin synthesis where as hydroquinone can actually be cytotoxic to melanocytes. Furthermore, Arbutin does not have the associated side effects of hydroquinone. Due to the safety concerns presented by the FDA, we do not use hydroquinone in our products.

Next about long term use:

2) We suggest discontinuing daily use after 3-4 months. This is generally advisable for all skin lighteners, and not just Meladerm. After a few months of use, you will find that the results will begin to plateau and regular applications will no longer be necessary.

For more about Arbutin, read Dr. Arnold Oppenheim's opinion here.