Is Hydroquinone Cream Safe & Effective? (Product List Below)
The involvement of hydroquinone as a primary ingredient for skin care products has been quite controversial, however for the past 50 years it has been recognized as one of the most effective bleaching agents for its ability in fading away and diminishing the appearance of uneven skin tone such; hyperpigmentation, freckles, melasma age spots, scar lightening and acne scars.
To give you the best answer on whether hydroquinone is appropriate to use for its advantages lets first dive more into how this aromatic organic compound works and why it has been deemed one of the most effective ingredients for skin lightening and continues to maintain that reputation till this day.
Of course, if you find you are sensitive to products that contain hydroquinone in them, don’t worry we have other great substitutes with reliable results for skin brightening that you can consider trying out instead!
How Effective is Hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone is one of the most well known and recognized skin bleaching agents on the current market, with studies backing up this claim with factual research. So how does it work exactly? Hydroquinone helps by preventing the skin from producing substantial amounts of melanin, similar to the way other bleaching agents such as Glutathione work, it’s an active inhibitor of the enzyme tyrosinase that produces high amounts of melanin. From this, hydroquinone will prevent that substance from creating darker skin color. While it decreases the production of melanin it also synchronously increases the breakdown of the melanosomes which are small particles of melanin pigments. As time goes on the older skin cells shed away, unveiling freshly new skin that is lighter in tone because of the decreased melanin.
On average, when used daily you can expect a hydroquinone-based product for skin lightening to show visible results within a 2-3 month time frame (8-12 weeks) if used frequently. Granted it is a long wait time to see results, remember that dark blemishes have taken years to form on the surface of the skin which means it takes more time to attack the pigments to lighten them.
Products that contain hydroquinone are often found in local drugstores and can be purchased as over-the-counter hydroquinone products. These skin lighteners can contain up to 2% concentrations (which is the most OTC effective amount). 4% concentrations of hydroquinone (sometimes even higher amounts) are only be obtained through a prescription to treat stubborn or difficult dark spots.
Does Hydroquinone Really BLEACH Your Skin?
Contrary to belief hydroquinone does not bleach your skin even though its classified as a “skin bleaching agent.” When skin is bleached, the previously synthesized melanin will be destroyed which would damage your skin. Hydroquinone only interrupts the synthesis and production of the melanin.
What does this mean for your skin? Well… considering the synthesis of melanin is being blocked at a quicker rate, the existing melanin in your skin will take longer because of its slower migration out for your skin through exfoliation. As mentioned above, it takes many weeks to notice significate results of hydroquinone. The good news? You can speed up this process by combining hydroquinone with exfoliating agents like alpha-hydroxy acids for quicker results.
Is Hydroquinone Safe to Use?
Even though it’s considered successful for skin lightening, the use of hydroquinone continues to remain controversial. In the USA, the FDA confirms that the use of hydroquinone is safe and effective to use in products. Many causes suggest that hydroquinone can act like a carcinogen (a substance used to cure cancer). One case showed hydroquinone causing leukemia in mice and other types of animals; this caused the Europe Union to ban any uses of hydroquinone back in 2001 even though when properly formulated, hydroquinone does not promote risk. Shortly after, this led Africa to proceed with a ban against the compound.
However, everything has a slight risk to it depending on how you use it. In rare instances using hydroquinone in high concentrates or adulterated formulas long term and having the skin disorder called exogenous ochronosis can cause issues.
If you didn’t know ochronosis is a reaction that happens when the skin darkens around the areas where the product has been distributed. If you have a concern about this risk, then it’s best to look for alternatives of hydroquinone for your skin lightening and brightening needs. These will be listed below as you continue reading. However, if you still would like to proceed with the use of hydroquinone, then we highly suggest you apply it less frequently than instructed and stop immediately if you notice any signs of reaction such as skin darkening or irritation. Always consult with your with your physician for more information.
Since there have been no fatal effects from the use of hydroquinone on the skin, the FDA and National Toxicology Program are continuing their research on further studies on health-related side effects of hydroquinone.
Here are a few additional side effects of hydroquinone:
- Irritation – Hydroquinone may irritate the skin, this includes; mild burning, redness, stinging, dryness/cracking, and in rare occurrences, blistering.
- Fetal Development – Concerns still rise with pregnant women using hydroquinone during the pregnancy or nursing of a child. Any women who currently carry a child should not pursue the use of hydroquinone.
Final Thoughts: Should You Use Hydroquinone for Skin Lightening?
Given the amount of proof and studies shown with excellent and visible results, we do indeed think hydroquinone is very useful for lightening your skin.
Just be sure to remember that unlike natural skin lighters, hydroquinone comes with more risk as mentioned above.
Our advice? Start with trying natural skin lighters first. Why? Because there are so many very reliable and effective ones on the market, we have even mentioned quite a few on our page. However, if you don’t notice signs of results that you were expecting from natural skin lighters then give hydroquinone a shot. There are many different types of creams and serums that include hydroquinone, so we listed all of them below for you to check out.
Some of The Best Hydroquinone Creams/Serums
Emma Cardinelli Skincare:
This is a strong lightening cream that contains 2.0% hydroquinone, which is the max amount you can have in over-the-counter hydroquinone. Expect quick results from using this product as you’ll start to notice your skin become lighter in just under a few weeks! Why? This product contains rich ingredients that contribute to skin repairing like glycolic acid.
Glycolic acid is used to exfoliate, lighten, brighten and repair the skin. This acid is found to treat scar and acne damage while exfoliating the surface to brighten the texture of your skin’s surface.
Be sure to check out this product on Amazon.com
Admire My Skin Ultra Potent Brightening Serum:
This powerful brightening serum is highly effective with its unique combinations of skin lighteners such as; 2% hydroquinone, vitamin C, kojic acid, azelaic acid, and more! These ingredients all inhabit the melanin in the skin and increase the effects of brightening and lightening by riding of any dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and discoloration.
Need we say more? The proof is in the serum, and the customers agree!
Natural Alternatives for Hydroquinone
Using natural products for skin lightening is an excellent alternative if you have sensitive skin or carry a skin disorder that won’t allow you to use hydroquinone.
Certain Plant extracts like Morus Bombycis (mulberry), Mitacarpus Scaber (madder) and even citrusy fruits like Lemon Extract can give you the results you want without being too harsh on the skin.
Eva Licorice Extract Skin Whitening Serum and SymWhite by Swiss Bontany are two of the best natural serums we could find. Both contain all-natural ingredients for skin lightening properties and are guaranteed to show results after only a few uses.
Since both are serums, it’s best to add a few drops from either into your daily moisturizer this way your skin can soak up all the rich extracts immediately!