How to Make Hydroquinone Products Work Faster
Despite the public as well as skincare specialists being divided on the issue of its safety, hydroquinone continues to be the most popular ingredient in skin whitening, brightening, and bleaching creams. That’s because it is incredibly effective and in clearing up dark spots and even making the skin whiter permanently. And if used correctly, it doesn’t have the same unpleasant side effects that products like peeling creams typically do.
The trouble with hydroquinone is that it takes some time to produce visible results. This is especially true since FDA regulations limit the amount of hydroquinone that can be used in commercial skincare products. Even dermatologists need to restrict how much of this product they can use on their patients. While clinical strengths typically produce much faster results than commercial products, they still don’t work as quickly as people would like. Often, it will take several weeks of regular hydroquinone use before one can enjoy significant changes in complexion.
Thankfully, for people who are keen on seeing significant results right away, there are ways to make hydroquinone work faster. In most cases, it’s a matter of adding complementary products to your skincare routine. But to choose the right additional product, you first need to understand how hydroquinone works.
How Hydroquinone Works
Hydroquinone and products made from it seem like they work slowly in comparison to peeling creams because they work from within. Exfoliants, whether chemical or abrasive, seem to work faster because you can observe changes right away. Using these products, you can literally see your skin shed and expose skin that will undoubtedly be lighter and clearer because of its freshness.
In contrast, hydroquinone works not by breaking down pigment that has already formed. Rather, it works deep in the cells to slow down the production of new pigment. That way, when old skin sheds through the body’s natural exfoliation process, newer and permanently whiter skin is revealed. Often, it is this process of shedding that seems to take too long.
So, to quickly get noticeable results from hydroquinone products, your problem really shouldn’t be how to make the product more potent. Instead, you need to figure out a way to speed up your natural exfoliation process. When you shed old skin more quickly, the sooner you’ll appreciate the internal effects that this skin lightening agent has been renowned for.
Products That Speed Up Hydroquinone Effects
1) Tretinoin (Retin A) / Retinol
Tretinoin, also commonly referred to as Retin A, is a variant of vitamin A. When applied topically on the skin, it boosts the skin’s natural process of cellular turnover. In other words, it helps shed old skin to make way for the new. So as hydroquinone works to whiten the skin from within, the tretinoin’s role would be to expose that newer, whiter skin. That makes the two an ideal combination.
Tons of anecdotal evidence has proven that this combination is a winner when it comes to getting significant results quickly. However, one of the most common complaints is that it causes excessive drying. This is especially true for people who already had dry skin in the first place. In their case, a similar yet milder product like Retinol should work better.
Retinol is a common ingredient in over-the-counter skincare, especially in anti-aging variants. It produces more subtle results, but it is suitable for dry and sensitive skin. Also, due to its potency, tretinoin often needs a prescription, unlike Retinol, which is easy to find and purchase.
2) Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Alpha Hydroxy Acids, also known as AHAs, are incredibly common in anti-aging creams. They come in a variety of forms. Some of the most popularly used ones in cosmetics are lactic acid, glycolic acid, and mandelic acid. No matter which form, AHAs work to boost the turnover of skin cells. Just like tretinoin and Retinol, it helps exfoliate the skin to reveal the younger skin made whiter by hydroquinone.
In addition to the obvious advantages of faster cellular turnover in uncovering younger skin, AHAs improve product absorption. They essentially break through layers of dead skin cells, allowing other products to be better absorbed by the skin.
If you’re interested in using some form of AHA to complement your hydroquinone regimen, select a product with a concentration below 10%. If you plan to use it daily, 5% AHA concentration is your best option. Also, it’s always better to use it before your hydroquinone product. Most people use an AHA toner after cleansing and then applying the hydroquinone products. For even better results, follow that up with an anti-aging moisturizer once it has been fully absorbed.
3) Kojic Acid
Kojic acid is a popular ingredient in cosmetic products, especially those for skin lightening. It is a naturally derived agent found in a variety of fungi. Today, however, it is more commonly derived from byproducts of fermented food and beverages. That includes rice wine, sake, and soy sauce.
Because of its potent whitening effects, it is commonly regarded as a hydroquinone alternative. While kojic acid products really are effective when used on their own, the results are incredible when used to supplement rather than a substitute for hydroquinone.
In 1999, researchers from Singapore’s well-respected National Skin Care Center completed a study regarding the best ways to treat melasma. They found that adding 2% kojic acid to a preparation of 2% hydroquinone and 10% glycolic acid produces significantly more impressive results in clearing up skin than the preparation alone. Given that, perhaps that best way for you to clear up and whiten your skin is to combine hydroquinone with both an AHA and a small concentration of kojic acid.
Time and again, hydroquinone has been proven to be among the most effective products for permanently lightening the skin and getting rid of dark spots and other pigment-related blemishes. However, you need to accept that it will take some time. With some patience to wait, the discipline to use it religiously, and the knowledge to supplement it with the right products, you’re well on your way to getting permanently clearer, brighter, and whiter skin.