Tyrosinase Inhibitors To Lighten Skin

tyrosinase melanin production

Tyrosinase Inhibitors

Tyrosinase is required for the production of the skin pigment melanin.

Melanin inhibitors are skin pigment inhibitors and are just one of several categories of skin-lightening ingredients.  

The most commonly used melanin inhibitors are tyrosinase inhibitors.

What are tyrosinase inhibitors?

Tyrosinase is an enzyme that is needed to make melanin.


How to use tyrosinase inhibitors in skin care?

The first step to finding the best skin-lightening products for your skin is to diagnose your Baumann Skin Type.

There are 8 Baumann Skin Types that need a tyrosinase inhibitor in their skincare routine. 

How tyrosinase makes skin pigment

Skin color is mostly caused by a skin pigment called melanin. 

There are two types of melanin:

  • Eumelanin: dark brown or black skin pigment

  • Pheomelanin: reddish-yellow skin pigment

Tyrosinase is an enzyme needed to make melanin.

Does tyrosinase make skin darker?

Yes, tyrosinase makes skin darker and blocking tyrosinase makes skin lighter.

Tyrosinase is necessary for the production of both types of melanin.

Blocking the tyrosinase enzyme prevents the production of skin pigment.

This is why tyrosinase inhibitors are the most effective way to lighten skin color and even skin tone.


List of Tyrosinase Inhibitor Products To Inhibit Melanin Production 

The best and most effective tyrosinase inhibitors are in bold font:

  • Aloesin

  • Arbutin

  • Artemisia Capillaris
  • Ascorbic acid

  • Azelaic acid
  • Difluorocyclohexyloxyphenol

  • Ellagic Acid

  • Emblica (Emblican)

  • Flavonoids (A large family of compounds that includes resveratrol)

  • Gentisic Acid

  • Hydroquinone

  • Hexylresorcinol

  • Kojic Acid

  • Licorice Extract (Glabridin, Glycyrrhiza glabra)

  • Paper Mulberry (Mulberry extract)

  • Resveratrol

  • Resorcinol

  • Saururus chinensis also called Asian Lizard's Tail Plant or Chinese Lizard's Tail 

There are other ways to lighten the skin, but tyrosinase inhibitors are the best ingredients to lower the production rates of melanin in the skin.

What is the best tyrosinase inhibitor?

Hydroquinone is the most effective tyrosinase inhibitor, but questions about the safety of hydroquinone have led to the development of hydroquinone alternatives to inhibit tyrosinase.

What are the Best Products that Use Tyrosinase Inhibitors?

The best products to reduce tyrosinase activity contain tyrosinase inhibitors.

They work best with the correct cleanser and moisturizer for your skin type. 

Is Vitamin C a good tyrosinase inhibitor?

No vitamin C is not a good tyrosinase inhibitor because:

However, Vitamin C is a great antioxidant and it helps increase skin collagen and prevent aging.

We like to use Vitamin C during a tyrosinase inhibitor holiday in the maintenance skincare routine to treat hyperpigmentation.

How Fast Do Tyrosinase Inhibitors Work To Lighten Skin?

Tyrosinase inhibitors begin blocking skin pigment production right away but it takes months to see results. This is because the skin pigment is in the cells of the epidermis called keratinocytes. It takes around 30-50 days for the epidermis to complete the desquamation process and replace all of the skin cells and repopulate the epidermis with cells without melanin.1

This is why you must use a skin lightening routine with tyrosinase inhibitor skincare products for at least 6 weeks to see a difference in skin color.

In many cases, melanin pigment is also in the dermis which takes even longer to clear.

This is why you should plan to use your tyrosinase inhibitor products for 8 weeks before you begin to tell a difference. Most people require 16 weeks of a tyrosinase inhibitor treatment before they can see results.

Keep in mind that any sun, heat, or light exposure will set you back because sun, heat, and light activate melanocytes to make more pigment. We recommend using tinted sunscreen daily to help your tyrosinase inhibitors work better. The iron oxides in the tint give more protection than an untinted sunscreen.

Our favorite tinted sunscreens:

How To Make Tyrosinase Inhibitors Lighten Skin Faster?

There are many ways to improve the results of skin lightening products with tyrosinase inhibitors.


Here are other tips to help lighten skin faster:

Lightening the skin can be frustrating and can take weeks.  You cannot lighten the skin overnight!

Why it is very important to use tyrosinase inhibitors in a customized skincare routine for your Baumann Skin Type.

You must

Many moisturizer will inactivate your skin lighteners, so make sure you use a moisturizer that blocks tyrosinase activity.

Look for moisturizers with unsaturated fatty acids. 


The best moisturizer with unsaturated fatty acids to block tyrosinase is:

Is Glycolic acid a tyrosinase inhibitor?

No, glycolic acid does not inhibit tyrosinase. Instead it lightens dark spots by causing exfoliation. 

Glycolic acid is classified as an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA).

Is Salicylic acid a tyrosinase inhibitor?

No salicylic acid is not a tyrosinase inhibitor.  It is an exfoliant classified as a beta hydoxyacid (BHA).

Salicylic acid also has anti-inflammatory effects that helps prevent skin pigmentation caused by inflammation.

Does azelaic acid inhibit tyrosinase?

Yes azelaic acid has these properties:

Is niacinamide a tyrosinase inhibitor?

No, niacinamide is not a tyrosinase inhibitor.  It blocks the production of melnain by:

To find the best tyrosinase inhibitors - shop by your Baumann Skin Type.

Once you begin a skin-lightening skincare routine, you will need to take a break from tyrosinase inhibitors after 4 weeks.

The skin gets used to them and figures out other ways to make melanin.  If you take a 4-week break every 3 months, the tyrosinase inhibitors will work better.2 

Learn more about Melasma Skin Care Routines and why you need 2 routines

Learn more about products to treat melasma on the face.

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1 Baumann, L. S., (2022). Cosmetic Dermatology. McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing. Edition 3
This statement has never been proven but this is the practice of most dermatologists.  Check back every few months to see if recommendations have changed.

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