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Hydroquinone, Kojic Acid and Salicylic Acid

by Ella Goodman 16 Jul 2018

The next time you go to use one of your trusted skin care products, take a minute to look at the label. What you’ll notice is that the product likely contains both active and inactive ingredients. The difference between the two is that the active ingredients are the powerhouses that enable the product to perform, and the inactive ingredients are more like the supporting players that make the product more enjoyable to use by adding texture, scent or stability.

When you see Hydroquinone on a label, you know that it’s there to treat hyperpigmentation and restore an even tone to your skin. But what about the other active ingredients? What are they and what do they do?

There’s no question that Hydroquinone is a powerful skin lightening agent on its own, but we also know that there are few special ingredients that are capable of amping up the effect of Hydroquinone and producing an even more amazing result. We’d like to introduce you to a few of these ingredients and show you why they compliment Hydroquinone so perfectly.

Kojic Acid vs Hydroquinone

If your search for a skin lightening agent has lead you here, then you’ve probably already encountered a blurb or two about Kojic Acid. Similar to Hydroquinone, Kojic Acid works by disrupting tyrosine – an important component of melanin production. Although the end results are similar, the processes between Kojic Acid and Hydroquinone are different.

Kojic Acid is a naturally occurring chemical that is produced by several species of fungi. Kojic Acid works on a cellular level to suppress specific enzymes that remove oxygen from amino acids. It interferes and blocks the enzymes that are in control of melanin production. As a skin lightening agent, Kojic Acid disrupts the melanin activity in areas of hyperpigmentation to lighten the overall appearance.

So, why not just use Kojic Acid alone rather than combined with Hydroquinone? Because Hydroquinone and Kojic Acid are two ingredients that work more efficiently as a team then either of them is capable of doing on their own.

Kojic Acid has been shown to be slightly less effective in lightening skin than Hydroquinone. A 2013 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information looked at the effectiveness of Kojic Acid alone compared to combined Hydroquinone and Kojic Acid products. The study also looked at the effectiveness of adding in an additional ingredient - betamethasone valerate. 

It was discovered that a 2% Hydroquinone and Kojic Acid cream produced the best results. We think Hydroquinone and Kojic Acid work better together, and science agrees. Kojic Acid is also milder and typically less irritating than Hydroquinone, so it adds a nice, gentle boost to skin lightening products.

Hydroquinone with Salicylic Acid

Salicylic Acid is a beta hydroxy acid that’s most famous for it’s effectiveness in treating acne prone skin. What you might not know is that Salicylic Acid has other complimentary uses, including the ability to lighten skin and minimize the appearance of minor scarring, such as that caused by mild acne.

There are some questions floating around about whether it’s smart to use Hydroquinone with Salicylic Acid. Our answer to that is yes, but it’s all about the getting the formula exactly right. For example, it’s no secret to anyone who has ever used Salicylic Acid that it has a drying effect that can cause the skin to peel when used excessively.

By using just the right amount of Salicylic Acid with Hydroquinone, we’re able to take advantage of the mild peeling effect without causing irritation to the skin. The sloughing, or exfoliation, that Salicylic Acid provides helps to accelerate the effects of Hydroquinone treatment.

As Hydroquinone goes to work deep within the cells to interfere with the production of melanin, the darker, melanin-rich skin cells begin to die off and accumulate in the upper layers of the skin. This is why it might seem like your hyperpigmentation is temporarily darker as you begin Hydroquinone treatment, when in reality all you need is some gentle exfoliation to shed the dead skin cells. Salicylic Acid provides just the right level of chemical exfoliation to lift the dead skin cells away and reveal the lighter, healthier skin cells below faster than Hydroquinone would be capable of doing on its own.

Why Formula Matters

There are plenty of Hydroquinone products on the market, but not all of them are created equally. Hydroquinone works fine for reducing hyperpigmentation on its own, but with a little help from a few quality complimentary ingredients, it can work wonders. Kojic Acid and Salicylic Acid are just two ingredients that work in perfect synergy with Hydroquinone to produce beautiful results. Formulas that include these ingredients, along with others like Vitamin C and Azelaic Acid, work to gently treat hyperpigmentation and restore your skin to it’s natural, beautifully even toned complexion. Quality matters and you should never settle for less.

 Looking for a Hydroquinone product that is proven to work? Click here.

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