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Everything You Need To Know About Hydroquinone

Definition: What's Hydroquinone and Why Is Everyone Talking About It?

There's been lots of beauty buzz surrounding the skin care ingredient hydroquinone, since it's the magic potion in lightening and brightening creams. It is used to reduce the appearance of brown spots caused from aging, freckles, chloasma (what can happen after pregnancy), and melasma by topically reducing melanin production without actually bleaching the skin.

The highest concentration of Hydroquinone available in the US is 4 percent, which requires a prescription. In other countries, however, hydroquinone is sometimes used as a general skin lightener, and the concentrations can get up to a harmful 30 percent. At concentrations under 4 percent, potential irritation is usually counteracted by mixing it with cortisone (an anti-inflammatory) and tretinoin. Since hydroquinone can be compromised when exposed to air or sunlight, it should always be packaged in an opaque container that minimizes air contact. Scary? You be the judge.

Hydroquinine has actually been banned in France due to a perceived cancer risk, which has been generally rejected by the American dermatological community. If you're curious for more info, you can read even more about hydroquinone's risks here.

Image Source: Shutterstock
Join The Conversation
ChristinaMUFE ChristinaMUFE 8 years
Hydroquinone scares me a little. I think I would rather go the kojic acid route.
morninghurts morninghurts 8 years
"The highest concentration available in the US is 4 percent, which requires a prescription." Make that 6 percent, just got a prescription for under my eyes and although I know it's temporary it works :)
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
I've heard that the concentration used isn't actually close to being enough to be dangerous. I'm no expert on that though.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 8 years
That is scary that chemicals can be used for something cosmetic and for something strange.
chiquita29 chiquita29 8 years
My Dr. gave me an Rx for this at my request but i've never gotten it filled. I've gotten dark spots on my chin after a really bad zit and I just wanted something to help speed up the lightening process. Right now i'm using the OTC one by Ambi. I don't use it often enough to know if it actually works though hee hee.
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