Natural options for the management of hyperpigmentation

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2011 Oct;25(10):1140-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2011.04130.x. Epub 2011 May 31.


Facial hyperpigmented disorders are a common complaint in the adult population of all races. First-line topical treatments are usually hydroquinone or topical retinoids, which can cause irritant reactions. The need for better tolerated, yet effective, skin lightening agents that could be utilized by a wider population has led to the investigation of several potential botanical/natural compounds. There are currently many topical cosmetic formulations claiming skin depigmenting effects. A few of the ingredients (e.g. soy) are supported not only by in vitro results but also by a body of controlled clinical efficacy studies; other ingredients, instead, are backed mostly by in vitro data and a few small uncontrolled clinical studies. In this review, we describe the most common natural ingredients used for skin depigmentation and their major published studies: soy, licorice extracts, kojic acid, arbutin, niacinamide, N-acetylglucosamine, COFFEEBERRY(™) and green tea.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Arbutin / administration & dosage
  • Arbutin / therapeutic use
  • Cosmetics / administration & dosage
  • Cosmetics / therapeutic use*
  • Glycyrrhiza
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / drug therapy*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Pyrones / administration & dosage
  • Pyrones / therapeutic use
  • Soybean Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Soybean Proteins / therapeutic use


  • Cosmetics
  • Plant Extracts
  • Pyrones
  • Soybean Proteins
  • kojic acid
  • Arbutin