Newsflash – Hydroquinone is safe and remains the dermatological gold-standard
If there were just one treatment that would promise to lighten, brighten and even your skin tone, would you use it?
Of course you would.
In today’s world you’re bombarded with all sorts of skincare actives that promise everything and deliver nothing.
With so many lightening and brightening treatments that haven’t delivered you results you may be left with the feeling that there is no such thing in existence.
Fortunately when it comes to lightening and brightening there is one long-standing active ingredient that has stood the test of time – hydroquinone.
If you have not yet achieved effective results, it’s likely because you haven’t yet used hydroquinone.
What is Hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone is a highly effective skin lightening active. If you suffer from an un-even skin tone, Melasma or hyperpigmentation, hydroquinone is the gold-standard ingredient you should be using.
Discovered in the early 1800’s and found naturally in foods such as tea, coffee and broccoli, hydroquinone has a long history of use. In fact in 1982, it was one of the first OTC (over the counter) active ingredients to be monographed by the FDA.
A monograph describes the conclusion of a detailed review study conducted by the US government.
When the FDA (food and drug administration) publishes a monograph they work to combine all globally available information in an effort to profile the efficacy of an ingredient. This concludes with the provision of a monograph that provides succinct, government backed guidance on an ingredients activity, dosage and recipe.
When hydroquinone was first monographed in 1982, it easily obtained something referred to as GRASE status.
GRASE is an acronym that lets the world know the ingredient named is ‘generally recognized as safe and effective’.
What is Hydroquinone used to treat?
All skin types, regardless of color, age or gender are colored by a pigment called melanin.
Just like a pigment or dye is used to color textiles, so too is a pigment used to color skin.
This one dye – melanin, is responsible for the rainbow of skin colors and pigmentation variations you’ll ever see. These natural variations of skin color are achieved through differences in the intensity and expression of melanin.
Melanin has a mixing pot of 2 colors to choose from;
- Eumelanin – brown/black in color.
- Pheomelanin – pink/red in color.
The ultimate color of your skin is dependent on the ratio and strength at which these 2 types of melanin are mixed. This is determined by nature and nurture. Your skin color will be born genetically and thereafter effected by everything your body experiences.
Sometimes skins natural coloration can become darkened by nurture. This can be the consequence of many types of dermatological disorders, including;
- Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, a common consequence of acne.
- Sun exposure or photo-damage.
- Age spots/Liver spots.
In whichever way discoloration is contracted, there are many lightening and brightening treatments available to reverse the unwanted darkened appearance of skin.
Some treatments work slowly and others quickly and visibly. Some only provide a temporary effect whereas others will show long term improvement.
Hydroquinone takes the best of both worlds. It works quickly and promises long term results.
Why is Hydroquinone so effective? How does it work?
Hydroquinone garners the crown as the gold-standard in skin lightening treatments because it tackles pigmentation via 2 routes.
- Route 1: Hydroquinone inhibits an enzyme named tyrosinase which converts ingredients into melanin.
- Route 2: Long term use permanently switches off melanin producing cells called melanocytes.
Treatments that tackle both routes pinpoint the complete manufacturing process skin calls upon when creating pigmentation.
You’ll often see skin lightening creams containing tyrosinase inhibitors. These are effective but reversible treatments. Their results are also slow as only 1 pigmentation route is targeted.
Let’s take a deeper look at this process…
Route 1 – Skin lightening via tyrosinase inhibition.
Your body is a host of biological processes. Some make you feel tired, some make you sweat and others create pigmentation.
This everyday biology of your body is exactly like cooking.
To create melanin pigmentation in the form of a tan, an age spot or hyperpigmentation your skin needs an array of ingredients. Imagine this as eggs, milk and seasoning.
These ingredients have the potential to create scrambled egg, but they’re not able to do that of their own accord.
Instead they require mixing, heating and stirring.
When your body creates melanin, it too needs to be mixed, heated and stirred. To do this something called an enzyme is required.
Tyrosinase is the name given to the enzyme that facilitates your body’s production of melanin. This enzyme is like the heat to your body’s pigmentation factory.
When tyrosinase is active, melanin production can occur. When tyrosinase is inactive, melanin production is unable to occur.
Just like scrambled eggs cannot be made without a heated pan, pigmentation cannot be formed without the tyrosinase enzyme.
Hydroquinone inhibits tyrosinase enzymes. This means your skin no longer has the facilities it needs to manufacture melanin, resulting in the prevention of all future discoloration. At least for as long as treatment is continued.
Tyrosinase inhibitors are widely available, you’ll probably recognize at least some by name. Hydroquinone works through this method of pigment inhibition as well as liquorice extract, ellagic acid, acetyl glucosamine, kojic acid, arbutin and azelic acid.
Although effective, this mode of action is reversible. After discontinued use, areas of discoloration are very likely to recur.
This makes hydroquinone a standout treatment for skin lightening. It not only inhibits the tyrosinase enzyme, it also multiplies this action with an additional skin lightening route to heighten potency and effectiveness for enduring results.
Route 2 – Skin lightening via melanocyte inhibition.
Your skin is home to numerous minerals, vitamins and enzymes. Every reaction your body initiates with these ingredients has a place it likes to call home.
When your body manufactures melanin it needs a home to create this brown pigment from. It calls this home, or cell a melanocyte.
Melanocyte cells manufacture melanin. In fact, this is exactly where you’ll find the tyrosinase enzyme key.
Each and every cell your body contains, has a programmed life-span. Life-span is effected by many external factors and can be prolonged or decreased.
Hydroquinone decreases the lifespan of melanocyte cells.
This process is not reversible. Once a melanocyte cell has completed its lifespan, it no longer exists to manufacture melanin.
This second route of skin lightening makes hydroquinone based treatments effective and persistent.
Hydroquinone beats all other skin lightening actives.
When skincare actives work they remain at the top of their field for decades. When they don’t they become victims of PR fame only to be a distant whisper in years to come.
Hydroquinone fits firmly into camp 1.
Hydroquinone has remained the most widely dermatologist prescribed skin lightening treatment for 5 decades.
It works, it works effectively and it surpasses all other treatments in speed and potency.
The bottom line – no other skin lightening actives have been able to match the lightening results hydroquinone can produce.
The hydroquinone controversy.
An ingredient with such wide reaching usage cannot sit at the top of its game for so long without controversy.
Hydroquinone is no different.
Although all research to date firmly suggests hydroquinone is safe, there remains 3 opponent internet based opinions.
Here we provide you with the facts, in an unbiased manner based only on the scientific findings.
Opponent camp no.1. Hydroquinone may darken instead of lighten skin?
The exact effect hydroquinone treats, it is also claimed to create. Technically named exogenous ochronosis.
Unlike most fear-mongered rumors there is an element of truth behind this claim.
A truth that will effect only 1 in 100, 000 people with a dark skin coloration. In other words this is an extremely rare condition.
Hydroquinone has a marked effect on skin, which means it should technically be referred to as a medicine.
Remember a cosmetic only temporarily changes the appearance of skin, whereas a medicine has a long lasting and claimed effect.
Sometimes medicines can have side-effects, however these outcomes are far from their usual and intended effects.
Exogenous ochronosis is an indicated side effect of hydroquinone treatment. It is extremely rare and effects only those with dark skin.
Just 22 cases over a 50 year period have been reported in the US.
2. Hydroquinone treatment may lead to mercury poisoning?
When you consider buying a branded item of jewelry you consider the trustworthiness of the seller.
Buy a Rolex from a reputable high-end retailer and you have reassurance you’ve invested in an authentic product. Purchase the same model from an un-reputable seller and your reassurance of authenticity just evaporated.
Hydroquinone creams purchased and manufactured in Africa, Mexico or the Middle-East may be contaminated with mercury products.
The moral of this story – always buy hydroquinone based skin lightening treatments from a reputable seller.
3. Hydroquinone has been linked to cancer?
For years skincare research has been conducted on animals and for years science has discovered animal models cannot be directly translated to humans.
Chocolate and avocados contain substances toxic to dogs, tomatoes prove poisonous to cats.
While animal research has helped to point science in the right direction, many a time it has also muddied the waters.
Animal based hydroquinone testing has shown both carcinogenic and cancer-protecting effects.
Use of hydroquinone on human skin, in doses relevant to skin lightening creams have never visualized carcinogenic effects.
Taking this one step further the types of cancers induced by hydroquinone treatment in animal models have been proven irrelevant to humans.
With 50+ years of dermatological usage and no human connection to cancer, we think you’ll agree this rumor is unfounded.
The proper method for hydroquinone usage
Hydroquinone is safe and extremely efficacious when used appropriately. As a medicine you should always follow the guidelines supplied with the individual product you’ve purchased.
Several strengths of hydroquinone are available and you should choose a concentration based on;
- The intensity of your skin discoloration.
- Your history of prior use.
As a rule the maximum concentration advised for dermatological usage is 4% and for this you’ll require a prescription. Concentrations of 2% and lower are available in over the counter formulas which still deliver great results for day to day skin lightening and pigmentation balance.
The best skin lightening results are achieved with twice daily application of a hydroquinone cream applied in the same manner as your usual facial cream.
For continued skin lightening free from side-effects, dermatologists recommend to cycle a hydroquinone based treatment.
Cycling is a very simple method used to describe a long term treatment plan that varies from on to off.
Your devised routine will depend on the type of pigmentation concern you aim to reverse. If this is acne induced hyperpigmentation a 4-month treatment phase may be all that is needed for complete reversal. If you suffer from a condition such as melasma or want continued skin lightening, long term usage with cycling is your best advisable use of hydroquinone.
To guarantee skin lightening and to prevent further melanin promoting photo-damage always be sure to protect skin daily with sunscreen or sunblock. The high energy of UV light accelerates melanin producing reactions which can work against hydroquinone treatment.
How quickly will Hydroquinone treatments visualize results?
Hydroquinone has the edge over all other skin lightening and brightening treatments because it is effective while also being quick to act.
After just 5-7 weeks of treatment skin will show significant improvements.
This is why hydroquinone remains the most widely prescribed skin lightening treatment with absolutely no sign that will be changing any time soon.
Hydroquinone: The bottom line.
If you’ve been looking for a quickly effective treatment that promises lighter and brighter skin that lasts, then hydroquinone is the treatment for you.
Not only does hydroquinone cover the traditional route of tyrosinase inhibition that several other skin lightening treatments confront, it also treats the source of melanin production itself. This dual action makes hydroquinone the clear winner for lightening and brightening skin tone.
50+ years as the dermatological gold-standard is a testament only hydroquinone can lay claim to.
Looking for a Hydroquinone product that is proven to work? Click here.