Is Hydroquinone safe?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fact or fear: Hydroquinone is dangerous. 

When it comes to choosing skincare treatment products to help fade acne scars, dark spots, and hyperpigmentation, using the appropriate percentage of hydroquinone under the direction of a dermatologist doesn’t just offer hope, it offers visible results.


Hydroquinone, when applied topically, helps to inhibit the production of melanin, the substance that causes dark pigments in all skin types. It has been proven to dramatically reduce brown spots. This is not a new ingredient with inconclusive research behind it. Hydroquinone has been used safely for more than 50 years.
Unfortunately, misinformation has stopped many consumers from trying hydroquinone, which is the only medically-proven skin lightening agent on the market. Dermatologists and experts in the skincare field offer a completely different view and continue to prescribe it on a regular basis, simply because it works and it works fast. 

Industry professionals consider hydroquinone to be the gold standard to lighten hyperpigmentation.

Montclair, NJ dermatologist Dr. Jeanine Downie appeared on the Dr. Oz recently as part of an expert skincare panel. While I am not generally a Dr. Oz fan, Dr. Downie is a well-respected dermatologist. She talked about skin discoloration and recommended using 2% hydroquinone saying that “It works by blocking the hormones that cause the discoloration, and it breaks apart the pigment.”
Dr. Downie mentioned something very noteworthy in her television appearance: the concentration of hydroquinone. Concentration is also mentioned in the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association’s position paper on hydroquinone. In this paper, experts state that a 2% concentration is considered perfectly safe for over the counter use. Doctors regularly prescribe 8% and above in their medical practices.

Science simply does not support any speculation of topical hydroquinone being harmful when used at the recommended concentrations.


In fact, if you are one of the millions of people concerned about dark spots, scars or hyperpigmentation, a well-formulated skincare product like Paula's Choice RESIST Triple Action Dark Spot Eraser 2% BHA Gel or Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum, both contain 2% hydroquinone and are designed to lighten all types of hyperpigmentation permanently and without the downtime associated with in-office procedures.



Other products with significantly less effective ingredients can take months of regular use in order to see results, while hydroquinone works rapidly. Unlike expensive laser treatments and deep chemical peels, products made with hydroquinone are just as effective, but come with a much smaller price tag.


I recently spoke with some of the nation's most highly regarded dermatologists for his take.

"Hydroquinone is one of the most effective skin lightening medications available, and it gold-standard treatment for melasma.  Higher strength hydroquinone creams are only available with a prescription, however you can purchase 2% hydroquinone over-the-counter," explains DrFaiyaaz Kalimullah, a board certified dermatologist in Chicago. 

He was kind enough to share his OTC recommendations, which are also very affordable picks.



"I particularly like the Alpha Hydrox Spot Light Targeted Skin Lightener, which contains 2% hydroquinone as well as 10% glycolic acid.  The glycolic acid gently exfoliates the skin and allows the hydroquinone to penetrate deeper into the skin, for enhanced results.  Ambi Fade Cream is another very popular over-the-counter hydroquinone cream." 



Karley's note: Alpha Hydrox Spot Light Targeted Skin Lightener is now called Alpha Skincare Dual Action Skin Lightener.
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