Hydroquinone is widely used to lighten the dark spots of skin, typically caused by hormones, sun or injury.  It is an ingredient coveted by people everywhere who suffer from melasma that  can’t be treated successfully with other products or procedures.  It works as an inhibitor of melanin production, which ultimately creates a more even skin tone.

Over the last several years, hydroquinone has become a controversial ingredient. It has been linked to a rare skin disorder called ochronosis. It is a bluing discoloration & thickening of the skin. However , it’s important to remember that with the huge volume of hydroquinone used over the past 50 years, only a few  ochronosis cases have been directly associated to using hydroquinone.

Some of these concerns about hydroquinone have resulted from mis-use in other countries.  For example, South Africa reported severe problems with hydroquinone use.  Upon further investigation, it was found that mercury and other caustic substances were found in the distributed hydroquinone which otherwise should have been pure.

Hydroquinone has also been questioned about a potential cancer risk associated with its use.  That research was conducted on rats being fed or injected with the substance.  However, topical use has never been shown to be a carcinogenic risk.  It is recommended to alternate the use of hydroquinone with other products.  Long term use with a high percentage of concentration can lead to skin sensitivity and other side effects.  There are several natural alternatives to hydroquinone.  Arbutin and kojic acid are two of those ingredients, used more and more frequently in skin care products.  There are multiple other products which would serve as a great option  as a rotating product with hydroquinone, such as Revision Skincare & Image Skincare.

Ultimately, the personal choice to use hydroquinone is up to the consumer.  It is clear, however, that hydroquinone is a very well researched product that is safe and highly effective in lightening the skin.