Hydroquinone is registered as a Pharmacy Only – in certain countries – skin lightening agent used to lighten areas of the skin that have darkened. Areas like between the thighs, the anus, age spots, sun spots, acne scars, melasma, hyperpigmentation and even freckles.
You can find Hydroquinone in anal bleaching and skin lightening creams in concentrations up to 2% and sold in some doctor’s offices in concentrations up to 4%.
In 1982, the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recognized the ingredient as safe. Although there has been some back and forth on the safety of Hydroquinone, the FDA discovered that many products that listed Hydroquinone as an ingredient also discovered additional contaminants like mercury. Which contributed to adverse effects on patients that used these products.
This led to the confirmation by the FDA to deem hydroquinone as safe in no higher than 2% concentrations for over the counter sales.
Hydroquinone works by inhibiting the production of melanin. In more scientific terms, it increases the breakdown of melanosomes in melanocytes. This slows down the activity of tyrosinase which is the enzyme needed to make melanin in the first place.
By decreasing the number of melanocytes, it decreases the color developed in your skin tone.
For people who deal with hyperpigmentation, the increase of melanocyte is the cause for more melanin to be present in the skin. Hydroquinone controls the melanocytes in your skin and over time allows for the skin tone to even out.
With consistent use, it could take as little as two weeks to start to see changes in the skin, but about four weeks on average for the ingredient to take full effect. For the entirety of results, that means continuing consistent use for several months.
If there is no development within three months of an over the counter product that contains hydroquinone, talk to your dermatologist about a prescription grade formula to better suit your needs.
The majority of people should see changes in four weeks of treatment. Depending on the skin type, the desired results, and what’s being treated, some changes may take a little longer. However, if there are zero changes after three months, it’s recommended to stop taking hydroquinone and talk to your dermatologist.
To increase the level of effectiveness of hydroquinone, avoiding sun exposure is highly recommended, if not impetrative. Wear protective clothing, use sunscreen, and avoid sunlamps and tanning salons. Coupled with regular use, if used as directed, you can continue using hydroquinone for desired bleaching to maintain desired results.
Hydroquinone can accommodate certain skin conditions and help benefit the patient. These skin conditions include :
For maximum results, using hydroquinone frequently is key. And follow the instructions very carefully. As you would for any medical treatment.
Generally speaking, you should…
If you’re not experiencing any side effects after a test run, it should be entirely safe to add to your skin care routine. Provided it is applied after cleansing and toning the skin and before your moisturizer. A small amount of the product is needed to apply evenly across the entire area of the skin. Gently massage the product into the skin until it’s entirely absorbed. Wash your hands after application to ensure the product doesn’t affect any additional areas of the skin, stain your clothes or anything else.
Make sure to use sunscreen regularly while you’re using products with hydroquinone as an ingredient. Sun exposure is not only bad for the skin but it can reverse the effects of skin lightening and make skin conditions like hyperpigmentation worse. And be sure to reapply as needed throughout the day.
If you do see improvement in your skin, you can use the product for up to four months, and then begin to wean off the use. You shouldn’t use it for more than five months at a time.
If you want to begin using the product again, wait two to three months before you resume use.
Although hydroquinone is generally safe for everyone no matter the skin type or tone, there are a few exceptions:
The main reason and/or benefit for skin lightening creams that use hydroquinone as an ingredient, is to achieve well balanced skin pigmentation and coloring, reduce acne scars, dark spots and freckles.
As well for more intimate places, the land down under, the anus. May sound odd to some but it’s a pretty common practice. For skin and anuses alike, skin lightening products can come in the form of lotions, creams, serums, and oils. You can also find skin bleaching products available as injectables. For those options, plan to talk to your dermatologist for the best fit.
For dryer skin, creams and oils are heavier and tend to aid in dryness. If you have naturally oily skin, opt for a lighter option like a serum.
There are also cosmetic products like cosmeceuticals that also provide health benefits and help with skin brightening. Normally only used to treat dark spots and scarring, they usually come in the form of a cream or serum.
These are very popular among the public over the years. Many people have sought out aids to help reduce aging and spots to be less noticeable.
However, there are hundreds of cosmetic products that claim to brighten your skin. Brightening makeup products do help to even out skin tone and produce a brighter look to your skin. They can cover dark spots and leave a dewy glow that leaves the skin’s surface more desirable.
While foundations, concealers, serums and creams do work on the skin’s surface, it does not mean it affects the production of melanin and how much melanin is being produced in the skin cells. Once the topicals are washed off, your skin will return to it’s more natural color. Although skin bleaching creams have no specific lasting time, it is known to be better the more often and the longer you use them.
Aside from age and the sun, there are medical reasons why one may develop uneven skin tone or dark spots. Hydroquinone may be able to help these conditions. Medical skin issues like post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), and melasma that cause darkening over all areas of the body such as the forehead and cheeks. PIH can lead to a darker complexion in areas that became inflamed because of trauma. This includes severe acne and scarring that leaves dark spots after it resolves.
In addition to skin conditions, endocrine diseases and hormonal imbalances can also lead to dark parts of the skin. Endocrine diseases like Addison’s disease produce a high level of adrenocorticotropic hormones. This stimulates the melanocytes that produce melanin. More melanin means darker skin.
People who are affected by both these skin conditions and/or imbalances/diseases use skin lightening creams that contain hydroquinone to counteract the darkening effects on their skin.
Although Hydroquinone may help lighten most skin, certain conditions may be harder to treat and aren’t appropriate for everyone.
Talk to your dermatologist if you’re considering using skin lightening or skin bleaching products with hydroquinone. Especially if you have any skin conditions or sensitive skin. Coming up with a custom plan means the best results catered to your exact needs.
As well as recommend alternative skin-lightening treatments or products, including injectables or chemical peels.
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