In a recent opinion , the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) says that β-Arbutin poses a health risk when used in cosmetics.
This substance is used in cosmetics as a skin-lightening agent. However, the German Institute found that β-Arbutin can be cleaved via metabolic pathways in the skin into D-glucose and hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a suspected carcinogen and is prohibited for use in cosmetic products in Europe.
The EU Commission’s scientific committee for consumer safety (SCCS) is currently re-assessing the active substance.
According to the BfR, the use of β−Arbutin should be seen critically due to its property of releasing hydroquinone.
The full version of this BfR Opinion is available in German at: www.bfr.bund.de/cm/343/arbutin-in-hautaufhellungsmitteln-ist-gesundheitlich-bedenklich.pdf