Hydroquinone is a bleaching agent used for hyperpigmentation. It can be used to fade freckles and darkened areas of skin such as knees and elbows. Brand names include Melalite forte in the US, Eukroma, Depig, Eldoquin Forte and Claripel Plus Cream. It is also an ingredient in many cosmaceuticals such as Obagi blend. There are two strengths 2% and 4%.
Hydroquinone is a very safe and effective cream which corrects excessive skin pigmentation. It is used both as a medicine and cosmetic cream. It is widely used as an ingredient in many top brand face creams at vastly inflated prices to cover marketing costs and to maintain a luxury image.
You can buy it here for a fraction of the cost because you are paying just for the ingredient that works without the designer packaging, marketing and unnecessary perfumes. It is often used with retinoic acid products where the increased cell turn over helps the hydroquinone to work better.
Possible Side Effects
Occasional hypersensitivity to ingredients
Darkening of skin on withdrawal
Use a high factor sun block whilst using hydroquinone.
Do not use if you are or trying to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.
Do not use at the same time as products containing benzoyl peroxide as this may cause temporary darkening of the skin.
Help and Advice
How does hydroquinone work?
Our skins pigment is caused by melanin which is made inside melanocytes by the enzyme tyrosinase. Hydroquinone inhibits the production of tyrosinase so in effect hydroquinone puts the colour producing cells to sleep.
Because of hydroquinone’s depigmentation effects it can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions from acne scars and freckles to pregnancy induced melasma and vitiligo.
When can I expect to see some results with hydroquinone?
You will see some skin lightening after four weeks but the best results will be seen after two to three months. The cream will work better if you stay out of the sun and wear sun screen and protective clothing.
Is hydroquinone safe?
Absolutely. Several years ago people began to believe that hydroquinone could cause cancer after a misleading report on the use of hydroquinone in mice. Over 100 studies have shown that it is perfectly safe to use in humans. In the EU hydroquinone is banned on prescription but is available in cosmaceutical form, so it can be bought as Obagi Blender for example.
It is freely available without prescription is Asia, South East Asia, New Zealand, Canada and with prescription in the US. If hydroquinone did cause cancer in humans we would have heard of a few cases by now! If you would like to read scientific study of hydroquinone safety, please follow this link.
Can Hydroquinone cause skin darkening?
Some people with darker skins have reported a darkening of the skin when they have stopped using it. It is important to remember that this has only been seen on darker skins after prolonged use. You can stop this happening by using the cream for four months on then taking a four-month break. A different skin lightener such as Kojic acid can be used at these times.
How To Use?
Test on a small area first, wait 24 hours, if no adverse reaction, it is safe to use.
Clean and dry the area
Apply a small pea sized amount avoiding the eyes.
If applying sun block as well, wait several minutes. Not using sunscreen increases the risk of skin darkening.
Do not apply any benzoyl peroxide to the area at the same time.
Apply twice a day until you get the desired effect then you may reduce to once a day.
Use for four months then take a four month break and then continue for the next four months.