Searching for skin products can be very overwhelming. Questions flood our brains about their effectiveness and side effects. Which of the seemingly endless options are right? Are they safe? Do they work for your specific condition? When it comes to skincare, you want to make sure you’re using the best products you can find.
If you’re troubled by dark spots from age, freckles, melasma, or other hyperpigmentation (areas of darkened skin) conditions, then you’ve probably seen hydroquinone-based products in your search for the perfect solution. This article will help you understand what those are products are, how to use them, and if they’re right for you.
What is Hydroquinone?
Essentially, hydroquinone is a chemical that halts melanin production. Melanin essentially causes dark patches of skin — also known as the pigment that gives your skin and hair their color.
Melanin is made by melanocytes; Hydroquinone works by decreasing the production and increasing the breakdown of melanosomes in melanocytes. It does this by acting as a tyrosinase inhibitor. Tyrosinase is the enzyme needed to make melanosomes.
Because of this, you can use hydroquinone to lighten dark patches of skin. If you want to learn more about this process, you can read about it here.
Hydroquinone: When to use (and not use) it
Hydroquinone topical solutions are great at treating various conditions, but they won’t be useful in all cases. Always follow instructions for use on the product label or consult with a dermatologist. Read on to decide if hydroquinone use is right for you.
What Skin Conditions Benefit from Hydroquinone Products
While hyperpigmentation is in itself harmless, the skin conditions that cause dark spots may be detrimental to self-esteem or confidence. Most flat spots of skin discoloration can benefit from skin lightening cream containing hydroquinone.
The most common conditions helped by these products are:
Better known as age spots, lentigines are spots of darkened skin around areas with high sun exposure. You can apply a topical solution to fade their appearance.
While freckles can be made worse by sun exposure, especially if you have fair skin, they are often a genetic trait. This means that while you can treat them with topical creams, they are likely to return at some point. If used properly, with breaks in between for the treated skin areas, hydroquinone cream can be used to lighten freckles every time they return.
The scarring left by acne
If you’ve had a particularly bad acne outbreak at some point in your life, your body may not have been able to repair all the damage done to your pores. The discoloration left behind could benefit from treatment; however, hydroquinone serums cannot help the raised appearance of scars.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
PIH refers to discoloration after any number of things that cause damage to the skin. Acne scarring could fall under this category, as can less common irritants like insect bites, allergic reactions, eczema, burns, and more. It is more common in people with darker skin tones.
Melasma usually appears as dark grey or brown patches on the face around the cheeks and nose. Melasma can sometimes be on the forearms and neck too. It can be triggered by sun exposure but also hormone fluctuations. Because of this, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to experience melasma.
If any of the things above affect you, you should read further about hydroquinone and how to use it best.
What are Your Skin Circumstances?
It’s important to note that one of the most common uses of a hydroquinone topical solution is to treat melasma induced by pregnancy hormones. Please see this article for more information on why you shouldn’t use hydroquinone creams while pregnant.
You cannot use Hydroquinone products to address skin texture issues due to abrasions from things like scars or wrinkles. If you are looking to smooth skin rather than skin tone, consider other treatments or consult with your dermatologist.
There are limits to hydroquinone treatments. There is some skin damage it can’t repair as well as things it is not ideal for. Some sensitive areas may not react well to these products. Read this article to learn more about what hydroquinone will and won’t treat.
Other Ways to Care for Your Skin
You may find that hydroquinone is not ideal for your skin type or condition. Whether you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or don’t have a condition caused by one of the things above, there are other ways to keep your skin tone even.
Regularly applying sunscreen, avoiding smoking, gentle exfoliation, using moisturizer, and even avoiding stress are good ways to promote skin health.
These are good preventive measures to take. With proper skincare application, you can keep any unwanted skin conditions from worsening and, in some cases, help repair damage. To view Admire My Skin’s other products, click here.
Hydroquinone is a safe and effective skin-lightening agent, particularly when you use it correctly to treat hyperpigmentation causes.
If you feel your skin can be treated by a hydroquinone product, there are many reasons to do so rather than using other products or waiting to see what your skin will do on its own.
Hydroquinone is considered safe in up to 2% concentration by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is available over the counter. Stronger concentrations (usually up to 4%) are available with a prescription from your dermatologist.
Admire My Skin’s hydroquinone products do not contain fluocinolone, a corticosteroid sometimes prescribed to treat melasma. Topical steroids are not safe for long-term use or ideal to use on the face.
Some of the conditions treated by hydroquinone may go away on their own; however, the use of these products drastically reduces recovery time. For example, some PIH effects can take two years to fade, but with a combination of topical tretinoin cream and hydroquinone. This can be brought down to as low as three months, with results beginning to show in four weeks.
Over-the-counter hydroquinone products are also cheaper than professional treatments like chemical peels with glycolic acid and are safe for almost any skin type.
Potential Side Effects
As mentioned above, hydroquinone is considered to be quite safe. However, there are some side effects to consider, including:
- skin dryness
- Exogenous ochronosis (homogentisic acid buildup causing blue/black hyperpigmentation on sun-exposed areas)
- mild contact dermatitis or allergic reactions
When Trying a New Product
Because of the potency of this product, you should first do a spot test. Be sure to cover the following steps:
- Apply serum to clean skin every other day and work up to daily use
- Test on a patch of skin that is easy to keep covered
- Cover the area you’ve tested with a bandage to avoid sun exposure or rubbing it off on your clothes.
- Always wear sunscreen during the day on areas where the serum has been applied.
Keep an eye on the affected area. If you notice an allergic reaction, severe skin redness, mild itching, or skin irritation, you should stop using the treatment. Consult a dermatologist if any of these effects worsen or do not go away.
Who Should Not Use This Product?
Hydroquinone is good for almost anyone looking to lighten dark, flat areas of skin. That said, some people will not benefit from use.
People looking for skin bleaching cream should not use hydroquinone. While hydroquinone is common in skin lightening creams, it is not to be confused with other skin bleaching products. Do not use lightening creams that emphasize bleaching, and never use hydroquinone with hydrogen peroxide or benzoyl peroxide, or any peroxide product.
It should not be used to lighten huge areas of skin or to lighten overall skin tone. While you can use hydroquinone creams in that way, they won’t be as effective. Over-use can increase the likelihood of side effects. Since it can increase UV light sensitivity, people who must spend a lot of time outdoors may want to avoid hydroquinone products.
Remember that hydroquinone topical creams are meant to even out small patches of mismatched skin tone caused by hyperpigmentation.
Admire my Skin’s Hydroquinone-Based Serum
After taking in all this information, if you think a hydroquinone-based treatment is right for you, consider Admire My Skin’s proven Ultra Potent Brightening Serum.
It outperforms other hydroquinone products and creams on the market with a unique formulation that includes Kojic Acid, Azelaic Acid, Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid, and Vitamin C. It contains the highest concentrations of ingredients allowed without a prescription.
The acids gently fade and peel dark spots to reveal brighter skin, and this product can be applied to the affected area either once or twice per day, depending on skin sensitivity.
Make the Best Choice for You
Hydroquinone skin products can be excellent for achieving lighter skin after suffering from hyperpigmentation. It is overall safe and effective and will make your skin glow. If you have had years of dark spots staring back at you, now is the time when you can do something about it.
Everyone’s skin is different, your condition may be better or worse than someone else’s, and your skin may be more or less sensitive. It’s important to do your research, pick a product you feel good about and one that will make you feel good about yourself.
And, of course, quality is everything. Pick a hydroquinone product that is proven to work.