What Is 4-n-Butylresorcinol And Why It Should Be On Your Radar In 2021

We speak to the co-founder of ESK Skincare, Dr Ginni Mansberg, on the tricky to pronounce ingredient that is a hyperpigmentation buster.

As the weather starts to heat up, we can guarantee that your clients will ask about one season-specific concern at their next appointment; Hyperpigmentation. Those pesky dark spots that make themselves mostly known as soon as you step outside without SPF (it’s a non-negotiable, but even the most stringent appliers forget from time to time).

There are a few ways to treat hyperpigmentation. Some treatments irritate and are unsuitable for use during pregnancy (another cause of hyperpigmentation). Others are safe but don’t work at all. This is why we were very excited when we first heard about the skincare ingredient 4-n-Butylresorcinol, which for simplicities sakes, we are going to refer to as 4nB.

Enlighten by ESK contains 4-n-Butylresorcinol

Pronounced “4-n-beauty-resorcinol”, 4nB is found in Enlighten by Evidence Skincare (ESK), which was co-founded by Dr Ginni Mansberg.

“It’s very rare to find 4nB in skincare products. We don’t know of any other manufacturers in Australia that use it. In part that’s probably because it is quite a new ingredient,” she said.

The first study on it was published in 1995, and several more have since shown promising results. A 2017 study found that while “no single treatment option has proven to be efficient for all patients… This paper presents the results of a study assessing a new promising (4-n-butyl) resorcinol-based topical formulation with better efficacy and safety profile than other currently available treatment options.”

Dr Ginni says four main biological pathways cause hyperpigmentation, which can be targeted by skincare. The most effective path is to suppress an enzyme called Tyrosinase, partly responsible for making the pigment.

Traditionally, the ingredients used to suppress Tyrosinase are highly irritating to the skin and can only be used for a window of three months before causing adverse effects, i.e. skin lightening or darkening, according to Dr Ginni. On the other hand, 4nB is well-tolerated on the skin, effectively inhibits Tyrosinase, and can be used long term.

Dr Ginni Mansberg

“One of the reasons that 4nB is such an attractive option for treating hyperpigmentation is that in addition to being so effective, it is very well tolerated and can be used during pregnancy. It is rare that 4nB causes skin sensitivity and when it does happen, the sensitivity usually passes quite quickly,” Dr Ginni said.

It’s hyperpigmentation kryptonite (that might be an exaggeration but it sums up our excitement). Dr Ginni recommends using 4nB between Vitamin C serums and broad-spectrum sunscreen in the morning or after a Vitamin A cream at night. These ingredients are also excellent at minimising hyperpigmentation and can be found in other ESK products.

“The best results for managing hyperpigmentation are achieved when targeting the four biological pathways at the same time. And because pigmentation can be one of the hardest skin conditions to treat, especially when it’s deep in the dermis of the skin, using multiple different types of ingredients which target these different pathways is important,” she finishes.


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