One of the most common ingredients found in skin lightening creams is hydroquinone. This ingredient is frequently used by dermatologists to treat a variety of skin conditions.
How Does Hydroquinone Work?
Hydroquinone slows melanin production in areas where pigmentation has become darker than a person’s normal skin tone. It does this by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, which is needed to make melanin. The decrease in melanin from the medication lightens the darker areas to be closer in tone to unaffected skin. Hydroquinone creams are sometimes called “bleaching” creams because of this lightening effect.
What Conditions and Concerns Can Benefit from Using Hydroquinone?
- Melasma is a condition of the skin that results in areas of hyperpigmentation. A flare-up of melasma usually happens after unprotected sun exposure. It is especially common in women who are of child-bearing age. Hydroquinone can help improve the appearance of melasma flare-ups as an ingredient in creams, masks, and other products.
- Solar lentigines are commonly called age spots or sun spots because they are caused by years of accumulated exposure to UV rays. This is usually from unprotected sun exposure but can also come from frequently using a tanning bed. Freckles and brown spots from sun damage can be improved with the use of hydroquinone.
- Acne affects men and women of all ages. There are many treatments that can get rid of acne and reduce flare-ups. Even after acne is under control though there is sometimes hyperpigmentation left from the inflammation. Picking at acne can also lead to scarring that changes skin tone. If someone experienced acne in their teenage years then they may have leftover areas of uneven pigmentation. Hydroquinone can help clear the skin of these reminders of acne flare-ups.
- Other skin discolorations: Medications like birth control pills can sometimes cause discoloration in the skin. Other kinds of injuries that leave marks may also cause hyperpigmentation that can be helped with hydroquinone cream.
In What Forms is Hydroquinone Available?
Hydroquinone is available in different strengths and delivery types. It also can be made into products that combine medications together to work more effectively. Usually hydroquinone is made into a cream that is applied directly to the hyperpigmented skin once or twice a day.
Prescription-strength hydroquinone cream available from a compounding pharmacy is much more potent than over-the-counter options. The combinations available are also more diverse and can include other effective, prescription-only ingredients for treating skin conditions. Other ingredients that may be compounded into a skin lightening cream include retinoic acid, kojic acid, and hydrocortisone.
- Hydroquinone Cream: Our hydroquinone cream is available in multiple strengths including 6%, 8%, and 10%
- Melasma Mask: Our melasma mask contains azelaic acid, kojic acid, and retinoic acid along with hydroquinone. It is applied in the dermatologist’s office and then worn for several hours to clear melasma pigmentation. The melasma mask is best used with a set of other treatments in our melasma kit for at-home maintenance after the mask is removed.
- Peel and Bleach Creams: Our peel and bleach creams with hydroquinone contain other ingredients to lighten skin and clear the complexion like retinoic acid. Hydrocortisone is included to reduce inflammation that may come from the other active ingredients.
Sun Exposure and Skin Lightening Creams
Dermatologists usually will tell their patients to wear sunscreen year-round and to take extra precaution in the afternoon hours when the sun is strongest. It is especially important to pay attention to sun safety when you are using hydroquinone. Ingredients included in skin bleaching creams make the skin more sensitive to sun exposure. If you are using these creams it is always important to wear sunscreen regularly and protective clothing on the skin being treated.