The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Review

Fading pesky dark spots is a tough job! It takes time, consistency, patience and SPF! Lots of SPF. Many recommend Vitamin C or AHAs to help fade dark spots but those can be irritating on the skin. It’s time to make a case for alpha arbutin…it gently works wonders to brighten the skin tone and fade hyperpigmentation.

The Ordinary’s Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA is a highly concentrated serum aimed at brightening hyperpigmentation and evening the skin tone. Alpha arbutin inhibits the production of melanin which is why it’s so valuable at fading and preventing dark spots. Its active counterparts are released at a slower rate onto the skin making it gentle and well suited for sensitive skin. Alpha arbutin is a great ingredient for all skin types and we love The Ordinary’s affordable and high-quality formulation.

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Review

Let’s talk about the goodness that is alpha arbutin. Not to be confused with beta arbutin or arbutin which are lower quality, less potent molecules that tend to get lumped with alpha arbutin. They are not the same and alpha arbutin reigns supreme!

Alpha arbutin is a molecule that works to prevent the formation of melanin. Dark spots come from pigment in cells that contain the enzyme tyrosinase and activate with UV rays. This is why the sun is so bad for dark spots and why you notice more freckles in the summer. Alpha arbutin blocks the enzyme tyrosinase which helps to stop the formulation of dark spots and allows you to fade the existing ones.

While alpha arbutin works to inhibit the formation of new dark spots, it also helps to fade existing ones. Part of that is inhibiting the formation because that means existing ones are not worsening. Think of it this way, if you’re using skincare to fade dark spots but spend time in the sun without proper prevention and care, they aren’t going anywhere.

Alpha arbutin is gentle on the skin because it has a slow release. This makes it less irritating on the skin and it does not conflict with other ingredients. It works very well with Vitamin C and AHAs. You may find that most of your skincare, especially Vitamin C, already contains alpha arbutin.

Alpha arbutin 2% is considered a high concentration. The pairing of HA helps with enhanced delivery to effectively target the skin. One of alpha arbutin’s best qualities is that it’s gentle on the skin! Even at this high concentration, it’s suitable for many if not all.

Vitamin C and even hydroquinone are popular potent skin brighteners that can really irritate the skin. It’s tough for those with sensitive skin to find a gentle option that can successfully target dark spots without irritating the skin. Alpha arbutin is that gentle option.

I really enjoyed this serum and it’s made its way into my AM rotation along with a Vitamin C. No irritation and the gel, viscous texture is cooling and hydrating on the skin. But, I find it a hint sticky on my skin.


  • 2% formulation is highly concentrated and very affordable.
  • Alpha arbutin has a slow release, making it gentle and suitable for almost all skin types. If your skin is sensitive to Vitamin C, this is a good option with similar brightening and fading effects.
  • Alpha arbutin does not conflict with almost any other ingredients. It’s suitable to use with Vitamin C and AHAs.
  • As a brightener, Alpha arbutin is very effective when paired with Vitamin C.
  • This product gets very favorable reviews from users.
  • Gel, viscous texture can work for all skin types. This should not cause any burning or tingling on the skin.
  • Powerful skin brightener that targets dark spots while inhibiting the formation of future dark spots. Alpha arbutin works to prevent the formation of melanin!
  • Alpha arbutin is the best and highest quality of arbutin you can use.
  • This serum can be used in the AM and/or PM without conflicts.
  • This does not have a scent.
  • Paraben, sulfate and phthalate free.
  • Vegan and cruelty-free formula.
  • Contains sun protection properties, blocking hyperpigmentation after sun exposure.
  • If you can keep this in a fridge or skincare fridge, it’ll really help to further the shelf life.


  • The sticky, viscous texture is not everyone’s favorite. This also makes it a hard product to layer in your AM routine, especially if you’re wearing makeup. It may be prone to pilling so take a less is more approach.
  • This product takes time to work. It’s easy to confuse this with not seeing results but give it time. Around 3 months is the amount of time you need to give this product. You likely won’t see big results if any, after a few weeks.
  • Wearing SPF with this product is a MUST. It helps to fade and inhibit the formation of dark spots, not wearing SPF will lead to sun damage, negating all of that.
  • Some reviews complain about the sticky texture of this serum.
  • Some experience redness or irritation with this serum. Patch test the product first but, alpha arbutin is known for being gentle.
  • The packaging is no frills.

How to use

Use this water based serum after gels and creams in the AM and/or PM. This product does not have any conflicts! Alpha arbutin is a gentle ingredient and pairs very well with Vitamin C and AHAs. But, cease use together if you experience irritation, redness or ‘flushing.’ As always, it’s recommended to patch test the product before using it all over.

Where to buy it

The Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA serum is available at:

Final Thoughts

There are two keys to using alpha arbutin successfully; pairing it with SPF and being patient. Alpha arbutin works to fade hyperpigmentation and inhibit melanin forming enzymes that lead to dark spots and uneven skin tone. Hyperpigmentation comes from sun damage! So, using an alpha arbutin serum without SPF is counterintuitive.

Alpha arbutin does not give rapid, overnight results. To be honest, most skincare if not all does not but this one you especially have to be patient with. Some reviews comment that they felt this product made their skin worse in the beginning only to have a glowing and even complexion by the time they finished the bottle. Consistency and patience is key and your complexion will totally thank you.