Skin bleaching is a popular practice for individuals seeking to whiten or lighten skin pigment and hydroquinone products are a common source to accomplish this task.
Hydroquinone is a substance which interferes with the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color. As a result, hydroquinone promotes skin lightening, and is useful in areas of hyperpigmentation such as moles, liver (age) spots, birthmarks, or hypopigmentation as seen in vitiligo (white spots). Occasionally it is also used in the genital and anal areas to decrease the pigmention found there. It is not recommended for full body treatment, the desired results are not reasonable and is intended for a spot treatment only.
Topical hydroquinone products come in solutions of 2% or more. The higher concentrations (4% or more) require a physician prescription to obtain, most readily available over the counter products contain 2% or less.
Caution is strongly advised with the use of skin whiteners. Pigmentation has been shown to increase with long term use at the joints, specifically the toes and fingers as well as the ears and on the buttocks. With heavy application to the face the skin thins and the area surrounding the eyes becomes dark with pigmentation developing an appearance referred to as “bleached panda”. Extensive use, especially with higher doses has been directly linked to cancer as well. For these reasons beauty products with this ingredient have been banned in many countries.
Hydroquinone Products – Over The Counter Hydroquinone
When looking for a beauty product over the counter it is a good idea to look at the ingredients. Many over the counter hydroquinone products have been combined with other substances to provide a better product. For best results the combinations should include kojic acid, glycolic acid, bearberry extract, mulberry, licorice extract, vitamin C, or azelaic acid. All of these additives have been shown to provide superior results and in some cases offer the added benefit of improving general skin health as well.
Products such as DDF Fade Gel 4 Hydroquinone 2% Skin Lightening Gel which also has glycolic acid and kojic acid, there is Brown Spot Night Gel works with glycolic acid, and Daggett & Ramsdell Facial FadeMoisturizing Cream with Hydroquinone includes licorice and kojic acid. There are also products with hydroquinone alone like Eldoquin Hydroquinone Skin Lightening Cream 4 Melasma fromValeant or Hydroquinone USP Bleaching Gel (2%) manufactured by Blanca Rosa.
Care should be used in the purchase an use of hydroquinone products. The ban on hydroquinone has lead to “bootleg” formulas which have proven carcinogens in them.
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