Wednesday, October 17, 2018
BEAUTY SCIENCE: Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone is used to lighten the dark patches of skin (also called hyperpigmentation, melasma, "liver spots," "age spots," freckles) caused by pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone medicine, sun damage or injury to the skin. It is found in skin lighteners, facial and skin cleansers, facial moisturizers, hair conditioners, finger nail coating products.
While using hydroquinone as a lightening agent can be effective with proper use, it can also cause skin sensitivity. Using a daily sunscreen with a high SPF rating reduces the risk of further damage. Hydroquinone is sometimes combined with alpha hydroxy acids that exfoliate the skin to quicken the lightening process.
Hydroquinone may make the treated areas of skin more sensitive to the sun. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, tanning booths, and sunlamps. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing on the treated areas of skin when outdoors.
In the United States, topical treatments usually contain up to 2% in hydroquinone. Otherwise, higher concentrations (up to 4%) must be prescribed by a doctor. The ingredient label will read Hydroquinone or tocopheryl acetate.
Hydroquinone has a reputation as a controversial ingredient for skin, yet for more than 50 years it’s been established as the most effective ingredient for potentially fading uneven skin tone, brown or dark spots, and lightening skin. Hydroquinone’s controversial reputation stems from when it was banned in South Africa many years ago. As it turns out, the products in question were found to contain mercury and glucocorticoids, among other caustic and illegal contaminants—a highly probable cause of the side effects seen.