Hydroquinone: Is This Toxic Beauty at its Best?

That classic “English Rose” complexion.

It’s what many of us strive for.

But could it be that one of these lightening ingredients is actually doing more harm than good?

Let’s take a look at the facts

I rarely do scare-mongering about ingredients.

However, I feel the ingredient hydroquinone should, in this instance, go under the spotlight:

Contact Dermatitis: Repeated topical use can cause contact dermatitis.
Hypo pigmentation: Regular use creates white patches on dark skin.
Carcinogenic: There is a school of thought that hydroquinone is a potent cytotoxic, causing mutations and alterations to DNA. So much so, in fact, that it is banned in France!
Exogenous Ochronosis: Regular use can cause irregular, mottled, blue-black staining, when the skin and nails are exposed to the sun.

Exogenous Ochronosis can also cause premature ageing; it damages fibroblasts in the dermis, resulting in a loss of elasticity and poor wound-healing in the skin.

More reasons to avoid Hydroquinone

In 1982, a rule was drawn up by the FDA, that up to 2% hydroquinone was safe and effective to use in over-the-counter products.

However, in 2006 this ruling was withdrawn, because of its link with exogenous ochronosis.

The American Journal of Toxicology also found evidence it can cause cancer in rodents.

In New Zealand, it has been banned as a skin-lightening agent in cosmetics – yet worryingly, it is still found in a number of illegal products sold here.

Interestingly, the Environmental Protection Agency does not permit the use of this ingredient by an aesthetician for skin whitening purposes.

If this is the case, why is it still available to use?

Since 2014, the FDA has recommended further studies to be carried out under the noxious toxicology program, to determine exactly what risk hydroquinone poses. Until then, it is still available for sale.

However, we think you’d agree, you may want to avoid this most controversial of ingredients.

But there is a catch, because hydroquinone falls under many guises:

  • Quinol
  • Benzene-1
  • 4-Diol
  • p-Diphenol
  • p-Dihydroxyl benzene
  • Hydrochinone
  • p-Hydroxyl phenol
  • Hydrochinonium
  • Hydroquinol

I don’t take any ingredient for granted.

All of my formulae undergo vigorous tests before I feel comfortable using certain ingredients on our customer’s skin – a painstaking but important task.

As a result, I have found some wonderful, safe alternatives to skin lightening; natural extracts that have a skin-lightening effect to help you achieve that Cleopatra complexion.

Follow the link to read about natural ingredients that treat sunspots on skin.

10 thoughts on “Hydroquinone: Is This Toxic Beauty at its Best?

  1. Tom says:

    Great article – the best way to approach hydroquinone is with caution. The risk of cancer is still unproven in humans with “some evidence” shown in rodents. Toxicology studies indicate that hydroquinone is toxic when orally ingested at high concentrations. Hydroquinone naturally occurs in many foods that we normally eat, like coffee, fruits, beer, but at small quantities that don’t impact the body. Skin irritation, contact dermatitis, and higher risk of sunburn are more common side effects to watch out for.

  2. Mike hays says:

    It has caused premature aging loss of collagen tops of my cheeks now have deep wrinkles they did use to have the shiny English rose appearance, my cheeks are constantly red i cannot expose my face to the sun, i no longer have pigmentation protection, that pigment has been turned off, I am conscious of my cheeks now in company and they will blush bright red for no reason other than i am conscious of them because they are always tingling, the beautician has turned me into a freak, my cheeks where not even the problem, i had sun damage on the side of my head and forehead i used Hydroquinone on my cheeks to blend it in, other scares also now show up, it has taken away my ability to function properly in society, it is Dangerous do not use it, try all other options, i was not fully informed of the possible consequences of using this, she clearly did not know how this functions, it is a prescription only medicene and she is a unregistered Beautician no less, it has been hell and will continue all my life to be hell.

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Hi Mike
      This is awful i am so sorry, once again a classic case of inexperienced therapists taking the law into their own and, yet they are dealing with our most important feature in many respects our face. I am so sorry for your problem, but thank you for the share! You should report her!

  3. Dr.Paul C. Li says:

    Dear Mdm: Hydroquinone is used to terminate polymerization chain reactions in many many organic synthetic chemistries.The darkening of skin containing the so called melanins (see Merck Index 14th Ed.2006 no.5812) may involve the oxidative polymerization cystinyldopas via 1,4 benzothiazine intermediates. So the application of hydroquinone in ppm range may be good for reducing its processes. I guess the user might get a feeling on what concentration range and the frequencies are appropriate for each individual so as to minimize the risks by increasing either concentrations or the frequencies gradually at a later time. My name isDr. Paul C. Li, a Ph.D chemist. who humbly correlated the functions of Hydroquinone in polymer chemistry and that in darkening of skins with the help of reliable source, the Merck Index. The concentration ranges from 40 to 450 ppm. Best Regards, submitted on Dec.9th of 2015

  4. Teresa White says:

    Very interesting blog! Thanks for sharing.
    It is just so sad how people, in general, will put whatever on their skin without asking questions or truly researching the ingredients. I am guilty of doing this in the past but after now battling an autoimmune disease I dissect and analyze anything I put in and on my body.

    • Verified Author Samantha Miller replied:

      Theresa I am glad you are enjoying the blog. I really hope the educational side helps others become their own label detective, rather then having to take the word of unscrupulous manufacturers, that spend a great deal of money trying to pull the wool over consumers eyes with clever marketing!Thanks for the feedback.

  5. JJ says:

    Hi Samantha I was really interested in this article, because I have used Hydroquinone in lightening products and I was not aware of any of these side effects very worrying! Thanks for sharing.

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