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  5. The Crucial Role Of Tyrosinase In Skin Care

Too much of anything is bad. No matter how great it may be. The same applies to tyrosinase - the vital enzyme your skin needs to produce melanin (pigment). So, why is excess tyrosinase detrimental?

Though melanin protects your skin from harmful UV rays and gives your skin, hair and eyes their natural color, over production can lead to unwanted tan, pigmented patches and dark spots. This is why anti-tan creams and skin lightening serums block the activity of tyrosinase.

While spots and tan should never shake your confidence, there are several tyrosinase inhibitors that can help you get rid of pigmentation. Thus, let us take a detailed look at this enzyme and how you can block tyrosinase production in your skin.

How Does Tyrosinase Work? What Is Its Key Role?

Tyrosinase works by oxidizing an amino acid called tyrosine to create melanin. The enzyme is essentially found in melanocytes, your pigment-producing cells.

Tyrosinase helps in controlling and regulating the amount of melanin produced. When your skin is exposed to UV light, tyrosinase in your body produces melanin in order to prevent UV-induced damage.

Sources Of Tyrosinase

Tyrosinase can be obtained from various microbes like bacteria and fungi, plants and animals. It is used in several industries including beauty, biochemical and pharma.

Tyrosinase can also be used to purify waste water through their action. Plants and insects also use tyrosinase to speed-up their wound-healing process.

Mushroom Tyrosinase

One of the many sources of tyrosinase is mushrooms. They contain at least 10 different isoforms of tyrosinase.

You may have noticed that when you buy mushrooms and leave them in your fridge for too many days, they tend to become dark brown in color. This happens due to the increased tyrosinase content in them.

Certain types of tyrosinase obtained from mushrooms are also used in the cosmetic and skin care industries. The most effective of the lot is obtained from a particular type of mushroom known as Agaricus Bisporus.

Did You Know?

  • Fairness creams that work as tyrosinase inhibitors are used by over 80% of men in India.(5).

What Are Tyrosinase Inhibitors?

before and after woman face removing freckles on face

Tyrosinase inhibitors are chemicals that directly or indirectly inhibit the production of melanin in your skin. They treat almost every form of pigmentation. Tyrosinase inhibitors are used by the beauty industry to prevent hyperpigmentation, tanning and other such skin issues.

However, if you are genetically dark-skinned, tyrosinase activity cannot be blocked. Only melanin produced in excessive amounts due to external factors like UV exposure can be inhibited.

How Can I Block The Production Of Tyrosinase In Skin?

1. Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone works by decreasing the number of melanocytes in your skin. It is a skin-lightening and bleaching agent. It is usually sold in 2 per cent concentrations over the counter.

Talk to your doctor about the concentrations you should opt for to ensure effective results. Typically, it may take you a few weeks to notice any changes in your skin color after consistently using hydroquinone.

2. Kojic Acid

Kojic acid is derived from various fungi. It is used to treat pigmentation and tanning. Popularly used to reduce pigmentation and dark spots, kojic acid works by inhibiting tyrosine, an amino acid that is present in your skin (1).

This acid is essentially converted into melanin by tyrosinase. Blocking the production of this amino acid results in a reduction of melanin in your skin.

Hydroquinone is usually recommended in 2-4 per cent concentrations.

3. Alpha Arbutin

Alpha arbutin is derived from bearberry. It is said to be one of the most effective tyrosinase inhibitors. Arbutin works by inhibiting tyrosinase activity that takes place in the epidermis.

It is also said that you may see results within a few weeks of using this ingredient consistently. It is usually recommended to be used in 2 percent concentrations.

4. Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is effective in treating inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is derived from wheat, barley and rye. Azelaic acid is an effective remedy to treat hyperpigmentation conditions like melasma.

It takes upto a few weeks for you to notice results. This ingredient is said to have a skin-lightening effect when used in 20 percent concentrations (2). However, it is important for you to consult a skin expert before using it on your skin.


If you're a regular smoker, azelaic acid can adversely affect your skin.

Did You Know?

  • Azelaic acid was initially used as a topical medicine to treat acne (3). However, due to its ability to inhibit tyrosinase activity, the beauty industry started using it to treat hyperpigmentary disorders like melasma.


Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that inhibit tyrosinase activity. It interferes with melanin production and lightens skin. Retinoids may also increase your skin’s cell turnover ratio. This reduces the appearance of pigmentation spots and tanning.

6.Licorice Extract

Licorice extract is popularly used in the skin care industry to inhibit production of tyrosinase in the skin. It prevents excessive production of melanin, thereby lightening the skin and reducing the appearance of dark spots, tan and other such skin concerns.

7.Vitamin C

woman holding a slice of lemon in front of her face

Vitamin C can be obtained from your diet itself. Citrus fruits and green vegetables have the ability to inhibit tyrosinase in the skin (4). Vitamin C is effective in treating dark spots, tanning, acne and other concerns.

Vitamin C is used as an antioxidant in the skincare industry. This means that it prevents tyrosine from getting oxidized into melanin.

Wrapping Up

Tyrosinase is a group of enzymes that contributes to your skin's pigmentation process. It is a vital part of your body as it produces melanin that protects your skin from UV damage.

However, this also may bring with it skin issues like dark spots and pigmentation. Here is where tyrosinase inhibitors may be used. A number of tyrosinase inhibitors can be used in optimal concentrations to address skin issues.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin