Know Your Ingredients: Hydroquinone

What it is
Hydroquinone is a chemical used in skin lightening creams.

What it does
Hydroquinone is used to lighten hyperpigmentation, like melasma, dark spots, age spots and freckles. It works by inhibiting melanin production.
It is also a potent antioxidant.
Hydroquinone is available in over-the-counter products at 1% or 2% concentration; 4% or higher concentrations are available by prescription only.

Side effects
Although hydroquinone was linked to cancer, there is no proof that topical application in small concentrations is carcinogenic to humans.
Hydroquinone can cause sun sensitivity and should therefore always be used with a sunscreen.
It  can cause a condition called exogenous ochronosis, which makes skin becomes darker.
In addition, it can also cause mild irritation. Allergies are rare, but can occurr.
When exposed to sunlight or hair, hydroquinone oxidizes and becomes brown. Therefore, products containing this ingredient should be packaged in non-transparent containers.

7 Comment

  1. Hydroquinone can have quite a few side effects, but if you use it carefully you shouldn’t have any problems. Although it would probably be best to talk to your doctor first.

  2. Btw, I really like these entries. I like learning more about the products I might put on my face and body. How do you come up with what substances to feature and where to get info about them?

  3. Emilita: I’m really glad that you like this posts. I think it’s very important to know what we apply on our skin and wheteher ingredients found in products are actually effective or ould cause iritations or other negative reactions.
    It’s actually difficult to chosoe which ingrdients to feature as there are so many! I usually talk about active ingredients that are widely used or those who have a bad reputation to know whether they’re actually dangerous or not. There are plenty of sits who feature this kind of imformations like Paula’s cosmetics cop or cosmeticsinfo.com. You can also find scientific studies about ingredients although they can be difficult to understand.

    Sara: I feel exactly the same about hydroquinone. There’s no doubt it works, but still the side effects scare me a bit. That’s why I think you should always talk to your doctor before using this ingredient. He/she’ll be able to explain the risks of the substance as well as determing whether it’s the best skin-lightening ingredient for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge