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?
If you’ve got stubborn dark spots or hyperpigmentation, you’ve probably come across some advice involving hydroquinone.
A controversial topical skin-lightening agent that is banned in New Zealand, European Union, Japan, and Australia; yet it is still frequently used in many countries and prescribed by U.S. dermatologists.
What is hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone is a crystalline chemical compound that was first discovered in the 1800s; it was used in just about everything from skincare lightening to developing photos.
Hydroquinone is used as a depigmentation or skin-lightening agent in skincare products. It can help to lighten areas of dark skin including; hyperpigmentation, freckles, and melasma caused by hormonal fluctuations, scarring, and acne.
It works by inhibiting the effects of tyrosinase, which is an enzyme necessary in producing the pigment melanin in the skin; whilst it is an effective agent for lightening your skin, there has been some debate about hydroquinone’s side effects.
Whilst we rarely do scare-mongering about ingredients; however, we feel the ingredient hydroquinone should, in this instance, go under the spotlight, this article looks at whether or not hydroquinone is safe, and whether it poses any risk?
Let’s take a look at the facts.
Hydroquinone has been banned in Europe as a consumer product, due to its rare occurrence with a condition called ochronosis – a type of reflexive darkening of the skin, which is basically the opposite of its intended use — it can cause irregular, mottled, blue-black staining when the skin and nails are exposed to the sun.
When you use hydroquinone to treat dark spots, any product in contact with the surrounding skin will also lighten those areas, so the intended spot may be lightened, but the surrounding skin will also lighten compared to normal skin, and create a light de-pigmented halo around the area treated.
If your skin is sensitive, hydroquinone frequently causes irritations like itchiness and redness in skins that are sensitive or barrier-compromised or sensitive. This can result in dryness, and increased inflammation in your skin, especially when combined with sun exposure and repeated topical use, which has been on occasion known to cause contact dermatitis.
It could also be a possible carcinogenic; there is a school of thought that hydroquinone is a potent cytotoxic, causing mutations and alterations to DNA. Still, currently, no research has indicated it can cause cancer.
The law and 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. Since 2016, 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.
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 several illegal products sold here.
Interestingly, the Environmental Protection Agency also does not permit the use of this ingredient by an aesthetician for skin whitening purposes.
Hydroquinone comes under different guises
But there is a catch because hydroquinone falls under many guises:
- p-Dihydroxyl benzene
- p-Hydroxyl phenol
When it comes to hydroquinone until the FDA, finishes their conclusive research into this ingredient, the jury is still out for us.
We at the Naked Chemist choose never to take any ingredient for granted, all of our formulas undergo rigorous tests before we feel comfortable using certain ingredients on our customer’s skin – a painstaking but important task.
As a result, we have found some wonderful, safe alternatives to skin lightening; natural extracts including kojic acid, grape seed extract, niacinamide, and more, 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.