Is hydroquinone safe for my skin? Well the FDA says so in concentrations of 2 percent while it’s banned in the EU, but lets take a closer look at this ingredient..
Hydroquinone is most commonly used in skin lighteners, products heavily marketed towards women of color. It is linked to cancer and organ-system toxicity due to possible impurities. There have been many concerns about contaminants in this ingredient such as mercury. Hydroquinone is also a possible impurity of tocopheryl acetate which is synthetic vitamin E. It’s not always present but that depends entirely on the safety testing of the company making the products and sourcing ingredients.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Hydroquinone, tocopheryl acetate or 1,4-dihydroxybenzene.
What are the uses?
- Acne scarring
- Age spots
- Post inflammatory marks from eczema or psoriasis
The FDA has confirmed that hydroquinone can be safely sold over the counter (OTC) in 2 percent concentrations. That being said, it’s also important to know the facts to decide if it’s something you want to use. The beauty industry has very outdated laws for the safety of ingredients that are put into our products and companies are not required to test their products before being sold.
Hydroquinone bleaches your skin by decreasing the number of melanocytes present. Melanocytes make melanin, which is what produces your skin tone. By controlling these melanocytes, your skin can become more even toned.
On average, it can take 4 weeks for the ingredient to take effect and several months to see the full results. If you don’t see any improvement after 3 months, discontinue use. This ingredient is not meant to be used for long term, 5 months maximum. After 4 months, taper off to give your skin a break.
Is it safe for all skin types and tones?
Although hydroquinone is generally well-tolerated, there are a few exceptions.
Dry and sensitive skin types might experience further dryness and irritation. This can taper off as your skin adjusts over time.
People who have normal or oily skin are less likely to experience these side effects.
The ingredient tends to work best on fair skin tones. If you have a medium-to-dark skin tone, talk with your dermatologist before use. Hydroquinone may actually worsen hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones.
Ever wonder why your towels looked bleached? It could possibly be the acne/skin lightening product you are using. One of the downsides of this ingredient is it can stain your towels/clothes so it’s very important to wash your hands immediately after use.
You should also wear sunscreen while using this ingredient. Sun exposure can not only make hyperpigmentation worse, but also reverse the effects of your hydroquinone treatment.
Hydroquinone may also be used as a stabilizer that inhibits the polymerization of the adhesive in artificial nails and lash extensions.
It is rated 8 on EWG and classified to be a known human respiratory toxicant and high human health priority.
SOME safer alternative ingredients to help with dark spots and brighten your skin include (I have also linked some products that work amazing):
- vitamin c
- camu camu
- lactic acid
- glycolic acid
- citrus extracts
- mulberry extract
Now you know the facts and you can decide what’s right for you!!!
*There may be affilliate links in this post and we make a small commission when you purchase 🙂