Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Is Hydroquinone Safe to Lighten Your Skin?

Most skin lightening treatments contain hydroquinone. This ingredient is an  organic compound  that prevents the skin from producing melanin. Melanin is what gives the skin color and pigmentation. The maximum levels of hydroquinone currently allowed are 2 percent for over-the-counter and 4 percent for prescription. But is it safe?

In 1994, the Journal of the American College of Toxicology (now known as the International Journal of Toxicology) published The Addendum to the Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Hydroquinone. Its conclusion stated that “hydroquinone is a potent cytotoxic agent that causes mutations and alterations to DNA, and that it should not be used in any leave-on type of product; it is safe for rinse-off products when used in concentrations less than 1 percent."

Hydroquinone is immunogenic, it's a carcinogen, some people get contact dermatitis from using it, and in rare cases, people have experienced hypopigmentation after overusing hydroquinone because the chemical is photosensitive. This means that your skin will become darker. The condition is called exogenous ochronosis.

Did you know that hydroqunone is banned in Australia, Japan and the European Union? So, why is it in so many skin lightening products in the United States? Well, because in the United States, the Medical Association is very powerful. They have pushed for the continued use of this ingredient because it's very effective! If you were to go to any major department store and ask if hydroqunoine was safe, the salesperson would probably tell you that it is. This is why you should arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can when you search for anything that you put into your body or onto your skin.

So, what are your other options for stubborn dark spots and other skin discoloration issues?

Try Kojic acid. Kojic acid is considered a safer alternative to hydroquinone. The American Academy of Dermatology reports Kojic acid is effective. Kojic acid is not a carcinogen and does not exhibit toxicity.

Try Arbutin. Arbutin inhibits melanin production. It's not as effective as kojic acid, but concentrations of 1 percent can work to correct hyperpigmentation.

Try Licorice. Licorice has an inhibitory effect on patches of skin discoloration. A concentration of 0.5 percent of glabridin can be used to treat sun damaged skin and melasma.

Try Laser. Many forms of hyperpigmentation can be corrected with laser treatment. Options include plasma treatment, laser resurfacing, and IPL (Intensive Pulsed Light) therapy.

Do you use hydroquinone?


  1. Hydroquinone has become a controversial skin-care ingredient for topical use. What is known for certain is that hydroquinone is a strong inhibitor of melanin production and for over 50 years has been established as the most effective ingredient for reducing and potentially eliminating brown skin discolorations on skin often referred to as melasma.

  2. nice blog

    We believe it’s never too late or too early to begin taking care of your skin Our cosmetological solutions have been developed keeping in mind the general needs of your skin as well as the various problems that could possibly affect it.

  3. Yes, hydroquinone is completely safe to lighten your skin. It is also approve by FDA. Always consult doctor for best hydroquinone cream like Intilight.