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What Is Hydroquinone?

by Ella Goodman 16 May 2018

There’s a lot being said about Hydroquinone on the internet right now. Some of what you come across praises the skin lightening ingredient for its restorative powers while others seem to be flashing a danger sign in your face. With so much contradictory information, how do you know what to trust and what to believe?

The internet is an expansive playground for everyone with an opinion, and as with all things, a touch of good judgement goes a long way in not getting caught up in the hype. To help you dig through everything that’s being said about Hydroquinone and form your own opinions about the skin care ingredient, we’d like to take the time to answer a couple of the most common questions. 

What Is Hydroquinone It and How Does It Work

The first question about Hydroquinone is almost always “what is it?”. The best way to answer this question is by starting with what Hydroquinone isn’t – a skin bleaching agent. To be honest, the whole concept of skin bleaching sounds unpleasant.

The word bleaching brings to mind color being pulled out of the skin. This isn’t at all what happens when you use a Hydroquinone product. The process is different because hydroquinone works on a cellular level to change how melanin is processed in the skin.

Many people have heard of melanin, and know that it’s associated with the skin’s pigment. When someone is suffering from hyperpigmentation – which is patches of skin where melanin production is excessive, they experience areas of the skin becoming darker.

This can happen for several reasons, but sun exposure, hormones and age are key factors. Skin damage, medications and even genetics can also bring about hyperpigmentation. While the side effects of this condition appear to only be cosmetic, they can have a lasting effect on the confidence and comfort of the person who’s experiencing it.

Sometimes, eliminating triggers that cause hyperpigmentation is possible, but not always. For example, some women experience facial hyperpigmentation during pregnancy. The discoloration typically fades slowly after birth when hormones begin to return to their pre-pregnancy levels. However, it isn’t always possible to remove the cause. In this case, you need a solution to address the condition starting from the outside in.

Hydroquinone is one such solution. It works by blocking the production of melanosomes found in the cells that regulate your skin’s pigment. By working to block production and increase the breakdown of melanosomes, Hydroquinone prevents the buildup of pigment and works to restore the skin’s natural coloration.

Once Hydroquinone has done its job, pigment is slowly released naturally through the process of time and exfoliation. Products that contain this amazing ingredient don’t provide instantly visible results, but instead offer a solution to long-term skin health and radiance. 

What Hydroquinone Percentage Produces the Best Results?

Hydroquinone preparations are available in prescription and non-prescription concentrations. A little bit produces big results, so unless you’re suffering from severe hyperpigmentation issues, an over the counter skin lightening product is usually enough to meet most people’s needs.

Prescription strength Hydroquinone typically comes with a concentration level of 4%. When not used properly, this percentage can cause more harm than good for the skin. For example, some people find this amount to be highly irritating. In addition, your skin can become extremely sensitive to any amount of sunlight at this concentration. This is why it’s necessary to work with a physician when using higher concentrations to determine the exact amount that’s right for your individual needs.

However, if we cut that concentration in half, we have a skin care solution that works beautifully for most people. For non-prescription strength skin lightening products, the maximum amount of Hydroquinone allowed is 2%, and in our experience, this is the perfect amount for maximizing benefits while minimizing any possible side effects.


How to Recognize Hydroquinone in Your Skin Care Products


If you’ve ever read the label of a skin care product and found it overwhelming you’re not alone. It’s difficult enough that so many products contain a seemingly endless list of ingredients. When you add in the fact that some of the most common ingredients go by multiple names, learning what’s in your skin care products becomes extremely frustrating.

It’s especially important to be able to recognize Hydroquinone and the other names it goes by in your skin care products for several reasons. The first is safety. Some people are naturally more sensitive to hydroquinone and can experience side effects with even small amounts. Secondly, the effectiveness of the skin lightening agent is influenced by the quality of the other ingredients that the product contains.

We want you to have the best possible experience with one of our favorite ingredients, so here is a list of other names used to indicate Hydroquinone in skin care products. More information about this list other skin lightening ingredients can be found here

  • 1, 4-Benzenediol
  • Quinol
  • Benzene-1
  • 4-Diol
  • p-Diphenol
  • p-Dihydroxyl benzene
  • Hydrochinone
  • p-Hydroxylphenol
  • Hydrochinonium
  • Hydroquinol

Our goal here at Admire My Skin is to help you better understand what using Hydroquinone means to the health and appearance of your skin. The only thing left to do is try it. We’re sure that you’re going to love the way you look, and how you feel about your appearance makes all the difference in making the world a more beautiful place.


Looking for a Skin Brightening Alternative That is Proven to Remove Dark Spots, Fight Hyperpigmentation and Reduce Melasma?

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