One of the most effective natural skin lighteners for African-American skin is bearberry extract. The bearberry comes from an unlikely place for African-American curing herbs, the northernmost and highest reaches of the world from Iceland and Norway to Siberia, and on the highest peaks of the Appalachians and the Sierra Nevada.
Much better known in herbal medicine as a treatment for cystitis and water weight, this cold-climate plant is also a source of a potent, safe, and effective skin-lightener, beta-arbutin. Natural beta-arbutin can also be extracted from the leaves of blueberry, cranberry, and mulberry plants.
Beta-arbutin lightens the skin by slowing down the action of an enzyme called tyrosinase. This enzyme is used by the melanocytes, the pigment-making cells of the skin, to make melanin, the pigment predominating in African-American skin. When the skin is treated with beta-arbutin, it gradually lightens as the melanin in it fades. Some synthetic chemicals similar to beta-arbutin, such as alpha-arbutin, have a similar effect, but they are usually not manufactured to be a safe and gentle formula.
The advantage of beta-arbutin over hydroquinone is that beta-arbutin lightens skin tone evenly everywhere it is applied. Unlike hydroquinone, it does not cause ochronosis, the darkening of spots and dots that can evolve into dark, black and blue blotches on the face.
Even if you are fortunate enough to have a doctor or an esthetician who knows about bearberry, one of the things most of them do not know is that aloe vera increases the even, skin-lightening power of arbutin, while ensuring that the skin is not in any irritated or inflamed. Use bearberry treatments alternating with an aloe vera wash or gel for faster lightening and smooth skin tones.
Just be sure to use a mild (10-20%) concentration to ensure there is absolutely no irritation or inflammation of your skin. Lightening your skin should be painless and pleasant. Never try to “peel” African-American skin.
To Your Beauty,
Esthetician/President-NYRAJU Skin Care