Tyrosinase Inhibitors To Lighten Skin

tyrosinase melanin production

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

Tyrosinase Inhibitors

The most commonly used melanin inhibitors are tyrosinase inhibitors because tyrosinase is an enzyme that is needed to make melanin. Most skin lightening products have at least one tyrosinase inhibitor, but your skin gets used to tyrosinase inhibitors so you need a holiday from them every 3-4 months.

Tyrosinase inhibitors are the most commonly used cosmeceutical and prescription ingredients to lighten the skin.  Skin lightening products with a tyrosinase inhibitor block the production of melanin and are used to treat uneven skin tone. Keep reading for a list of examples of tyrosinase inhibitors to look for in skincare products.

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. 

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Before we discuss skincare ingredients with tyrosinase inhibitors to even the skin tone, let's discuss how skin pigment is made.

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 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.

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List of Tyrosinase Inhibitor Products To Inhibit Melanin Production 

This tyrosinase inhibitor ingredient list has most, if not all, of the ingredients in skin care products used to block tyrosinase. 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. 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.

In this list of tyrosinase inhibitors in alphabetical order, 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 

What are the Best Products that Use Tyrosinase Inhibitors?

These are the best tyrosinase inhibitors- but they work best with the correct cleanser and moisturizer for your skin type.  Have you heard of slugging? Use moisturizers with occlusives on top of these dermatologist-recommended skin lighteners to "slug" the tyrosinase inhibitors into your skin. Better absorption increases effectiveness. Did you know that the moisturizer you use will affect the efficacy of tyrosinase inhibitors?  It will! This is why you should let us give you exact skin care routine advice.

Why is Vitamin C not the best tyrosinase inhibitor?

The tyrosinase inhibiting effects of Vitamin C are not as strong as kojic acid and arbutin. Also, Vitamin C serums have difficulty penetrating into the skin which can decrease their efficacy.

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.

These are our favorite Vitamin C serums for melasma.

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 Lighten Skin Fast?

There are many ways to improve the results of skincare products with tyrosinase inhibitors. You must use the skin lightening products consistently and with a customized skin care routine designed for your Baumann Skin Type®. It is critical that you use the correct skin care products and in the correct skincare routine order because every product in the skincare routine- including the moisturizer- will affect how well the tyrosinase inhibitor works. You will not be able to lighten your skin in a week because it will take at least 30 days as described above.

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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!

These tips will help lighten your skin but it is very important to get on a customized skincare routine for your Baumann Skin Type. This will soothe any underlying inflammation and add skin-lightening ingredients that will not irritate your 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.

To get started on the best tyrosinase inhibitors for your skin type- take the skin type quiz and follow our recommendations.

Stay current on social media @SkinTypeSolutions to find out when new tyrosinase inhibitors come out!

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1 Baumann, L. S., (2021). 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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