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Hydroquinone, Gone Forever?

by Ella Goodman 29 Jun 2021

Have you recently searched for your favorite Hydroquinone cream but are having zero luck finding it? You're not the only one who is left confused by the disappearance of OTC Hydroquinone products. Last year new regulations were passed as part of the CARES Act regarding the availability of hydroquinone without a prescription, leaving skincare companies and their customers with more than a few questions and concerns. 

What Does Hydroquinone Have to Do with the CARES Act?

The CARES Act was passed in 2020 to primarily provide financial relief to individuals, families, and businesses from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. So what does this have to do with hydroquinone? Well, nothing really.

As with almost all legislation, these extensive types of legislative documents are also written to include more minor issues that simply aren't significant enough to stand on their own in a separate body of legislation. The regulation of certain OTC drugs was included as one of these minor issues that have zero to do with the far-reaching purpose of the CARES Act.

Is Hydroquinone Dangerous?

The first assumption here is that hydroquinone was removed from the marketplace due to safety concerns. As a concerned consumer, maybe you’ve done a quick search on hydroquinone yourself, only to find that the answers aren't exactly clear, and everyone seems to have an opinion.

The answer is that hydroquinone has not been deemed dangerous or proven to be a cause of health concerns for users. It was removed from the marketplace due to the fact that it became entangled in the elimination of OTC medications that have not been officially found to be GRASE (generally regarded as safe and effective) by the FDA.

There is a specific process that a drug, including topical medications like hydroquinone, must go through to be identified as GRASE. Until this process is complete, it is deemed a new drug, even if it has a long history of safe and effective use, as is the case with low concentrations of hydroquinone. As part of the CARES Act, hydroquinone and other new drugs were removed from over-the-counter availability.

Synovea is 4X More Effective than Hydroquinone

While hydroquinone has been considered one of the gold standards of skin lighteners, it’s not the only effective treatment. As a company that is continually in search of the safest and most effective skincare treatments, we’ve been researching and testing alternatives to hydroquinone. One alternative that we’ve devoted significant time to is the combination of Genowhite and Synovea, and we’re more than pleased with the results.

We’ve extensively researched these ingredients and put them through 10 months of trials. Our updated formula is clinically proven to be four times more effective than Hydroquinone.

Genowhite is a peptide that lightens the skin by inhibiting the formation of melanosomes, where melanin is synthesized and stored. In technical terms, it works to disrupt the melanogenesis pathway. In simpler terms, it works to lighten skin discolorations quickly, with noticeable results within 9-14 days when using just this product alone.

Synovea also works by interfering with the melanogenesis pathway. At a concentration of a mere .5%, it has been shown in clinical trials to be equally effective as hydroquinone in the standard 2% OTC formula. We also like that Synovea has good antimicrobial properties. Not only is this good for your skin, but products containing Synovea typically require less in terms of preservative additives.

These two stand well on their own when treating hyperpigmentation, but combine them and the results are amazing. In our trials, a formula containing both Genowhite and Synovea performed just as well as our hydroquinone formula in treating skin discoloration.

Using Hydroquinone 

Here’s the good news. Hydroquinone isn’t gone forever. It just isn't available for consumer use in OTC skincare products at the moment. Before the ban, you could purchase a skin lightening cream with 2% or less hydroquinone for personal use without needing to see a dermatologist or doctor. More potent preparations have always required a prescription for use.

Hydroquinone isn’t intended to be used as a long-term skincare treatment. Extended use increases the risk of side effects. Requiring a prescription does have the benefit of reducing the risks from atypical use, even with lower concentrations.

The other good news is that you don’t have to take the wait-and-see approach with hydroquinone if you have skin discoloration that you want to address now. Powerful and effective new ingredients like Genowhite and Synovea are proving to be just as effective, and they’re available in formulas without a prescription.

Hydroquinone and the Future of Skin Care 

We certainly hope to see hydroquinone once again on the market for OTC use once it is determined to be GRASE by the FDA. If you have questions or concerns about hydroquinone, we encourage you to speak with a dermatologist.

A good, quality skincare routine is the first step in protecting your skin and helping it repair and heal from sun damage, hormonal changes, and the passage of time. While hydroquinone has, at least temporarily, disappeared from the OTC market, there are alternatives. The health of your skin is important, and we’re always researching new, gentle, and effective treatments for your skincare concerns.

References and continued reading: 

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