It’s probably not a newsflash to hear that Hydroquinone is one of the preferred skin lightening agents today. In fact, if you’ve been researching Hydroquinone you might feel like there are few other options. The truth is that there are in fact, other agents that can help to lighten and treat hyperpigmentation, but they tend to fall a little short of Hydroquinone’s effectiveness when used alone.
Does that mean they should all be pushed aside as Hydroquinone reigns supreme? Absolutely not. In fact, we think that when used together, these skin lightening compounds can maximize the effectiveness of Hydroquinone, making it even better than before.
Here is a look at a couple of our favorite compliments to Hydroquinone – Azelaic Acid and Vitamin C.
What Is Azelaic Acid?
Azelaic Acid is a natural compound that is derived from various grains such as wheat and barley, however it’s also commonly derived from fats and oils. Azelaic Acid has several useful applications in skin care, and it’s possible that you may already be familiar with it for its ability to heal and control acne.
More recently, Azelaic Acid has come to the forefront as an effective agent for treating hyperpigmentation. So, let’s take a minute to talk about this amazing ingredient and why it partners so well with Hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone VS Azelaic Acid – Who’s the Winner?
Much of the information that you’ll find online presents and compares Azelaic Acid as an alternative to Hydroquinone. So, the natural question is which is more effective?
To begin answering this question, let’s look at how Azelaic acid works. Much like Hydroquinone, Azelaic acid works by interfering with tyrosinase and eventually disrupting the production of melanocytes, which are the pesky cells responsible for hyperpigmentation. When put this simply, it sounds like it doesn’t really matter if you use Hydroquinone or Azelaic Acid cream to treat hyperpigmentation.
Still, there are some differences. For example, the concentration of Azelaic Acid that’s required to treat skin discoloration is significantly higher than what you’ll find with Hydroquinone. While Azelaic is considered to be extremely gentle, such high concentrations might cause irritation is people with more sensitive skin.
Additionally, while Azelaic Acid is extremely effective, one of the most interesting features of this ingredient is that it’s also selective. While it blocks the DNA synthesis of abnormal pigment producing cells, it tends to leave the other ones alone. This means that it’s great for treating moderate to severe hyperpigmentation conditions, such as Melasma, but it will often leave minor issues untouched. For example, Azelaic Acid isn’t the best stand alone option for treating freckles or minor age spots because it doesn’t recognize the melanocytes as being over productive.
While the selective nature of Azelaic Acid limits its range of use when treating hyperpigmentation, it also provides an amazing benefit. Often, people with darker skin tones have difficulty finding skin discoloration treatment options that don’t noticeably affect the surrounding skin as well. Azelaic Acid only treats the cells that it sees as damaged, meaning that it typically does not cause any type of lightening effect on normal, healthy skin.
To return back to the original question of “which is better, Hydroquinone or Azelaic Acid?” our answer is that they work better together. They are perfect compliments that when used together in the right ratio boost the effectiveness of one another.
The addition of Azelaic Acid helps to make it possible for an over-the-counter strength product to work just as effectively as a prescription strength formula, plus it adds a little extra bonus for anyone who might be dealing with persistent acne along with troublesome hyperpigmentation.
Hydroquinone and Vitamin C
If you follow skincare and health trends, then you might already know that Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant used in skin care to help prevent premature aging by supporting the skin’s collagen matrix and repairing damage from environmental irritants, such as exposure to toxins and UV rays.
A benefit of Vitamin C that not so many people are aware of is the one-two punch it provides for combating hyperpigmentation. For starters, Vitamin C is crucial in the repair of damaged cells, helping skin heal faster from acne scars and other minor injuries.
But, the power of Vitamin C to heal and restore a smooth even-toned appearance to your skin does not stop there. Like Hydroquinone, Vitamin C helps to block the production of tyrosinase, which is critical to formation of the skin darkening pigment melanin. While it does this, it’s also increasing the levels of Glutathione and Vitamin E, two important antioxidants that can help prevent moderate to severe hyperpigmentation from developing in the first place.
The antioxidant capabilities of Vitamin C mean that it’s an effective tool in the neutralization of free radicals that lead to both premature and natural aging of the skin. Along with those first fine lines, one of the most common initial signs of maturing skin is the appearance of age spots. The double power of Vitamin C helps to prevent these mild types of skin discolorations and effectively treats them when they do appear.
That said, it’s difficult to produce the type of skin lightening benefits that people with moderate to sever hyperpigmentation are looking for with Vitamin C alone. That’s why Vitamin C works best when combined with other potent skin lightening agents, like Hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone with Vitamin C is especially effective because the vitamin also provides some protection against sun damage, which is a major contributor to skin discolorations. This doesn’t mean that you can forgo the sunscreen, especially since Hydroquinone can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. However, it does add a significant boost to the protection that your regular high quality sunscreen provides.
There are plenty of skin lightening products on the market today, but how do you know which one will produce the results you want and meet the high quality standards that you expect? Understanding what the different skin lightening agents are and how they work is the first step to discovering a quality product.
Many people who have failed to see the results they wanted with an over the counter strength Hydroquinone product were the victim of an ineffective formula. When there are so many great ingredients like Azelaic Acid and Vitamin C that can enhance the performance of skin lightening products, why choose one where Hydroquinone is left to do all the work on its own? These products work better together, and we’ve seen the beautiful results that prove it.