The Controversy Over Hydroquinone

Although the controversial skin whitener hydroquinone may be effective for certain indications, it should not be used in skin whitening creams. It has even been combined with black market bleaching creams with dangerous ingredients such as mercury to enhance its effect. Hydroquinone has been used for years as an effective treatment against unwanted pigmentation, but prolonged use has the potential to cause serious side effects, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Sources: 2, 4

Hydroquinone can be effective in treating skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and sunburn at reasonable concentrations and under medical supervision, according to the FDA. Although there are strong advocates of hydroquinone, there is no good reason for doctors to prescribe this alternative to patients with discoloration. Sources: 4

Hydroquinone is a crystalline compound used as a skin lightening agent in a wide range of skin care products. Most over-the-counter products contain hydroquinones in the form of a serum or as part of an anti-aging treatment. Many of these serums contain whitening and even bleaching agents, which can over lighten the skin. Sources: 2, 5

By interrupting the melanin production of the skin, hydroquinone prevents existing dark spots from darkening, gradually fading them. This helps to relieve freckles, age spots and melasma caused by acne, hormonal fluctuations or skin injuries. Sources: 2

Based on the actual use of hydroquinone in cosmetics, Europe and Canada see a "worst-case scenario." Hydroquinones are available in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and other countries, but they are only given on prescription and anything above 2% is defined as a prescription. In the US, the FDA is considering similar restrictions, but because of its use in cosmetics, it is considering a "worst-case scenario." Sources: 6, 10

The discussion about hydroquinones as carcinogenic has been controversial for many years, especially with regard to use in cosmetics. Studies have suggested that it could be carcinogenic, although research on the subject is not conclusive. Sources: 1, 10

Hydroquinones have been in the headlines in recent years and have been banned in a number of countries around the world, from the European Union to Japan.  Sources: 0, 3

On August 29, 2006, the FDA proposed new regulations for skin care products containing hydroquinones. These products require FDA approval before being sold to the public and would only be available by doctor's prescription. Products containing hydroquinones would be considered new drugs under proposed FDA regulations. Sources: 0, 8

However, there are many skin lightening products that can offer you all the benefits without side effects. Such as sunscreen, and Bryght. Sources: 1

For light to moderate hyperpigmentation, you can use sunscreen and Hydroquinone-free skin brighteners to minimize freckles, age spots, and chloasma caused by sunlight, UV light, and sunburns. For a safe alternative, I recommend Bryght products. Bryght is vegan, cruelty free, made in the USA, and all natural. 



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