Hydroquinone Dangers You Need to Know About

hydroquinone dangers
Written by Bryce

You could be doing even more damage.

In your race to erase sun damage and spots, hydroquinone probably looks like a pretty attractive ingredient, doesn’t it? It turns out that while popular, the many unspoken hydroquinone dangers could actually put your skin (and health) in a worse place than when you started.

hydroquinone dangers

“Hydroquinone is a common ingredient used in skincare to lighten the skin and get rid of dark spots or discoloration,” explains  board certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare, Dr. Purvisha Patel. “As we age, people of all skin types get areas of discoloration of the skin either from the sun, or as a form of skin darkening from scarring. Hydroquinone has been used in strong percentages that are prescription, and in lower percentages over the counter, to lighten age spots, sun spots, and even scarring. The ingredient works on the pigment pathway in the pigment-producing cells or melanocytes in the skin.”

But, the doctor warns, there are several hydroquinone dangers people should know about before opting for this lightening method.

4 hydroquinone dangers you need to know about

Ochronosis. “There is a phenomenon called ochronosis, or increased pigmentation and darkening of the skin that is caused by hydroquinone. It can be quite disfiguring.” We imagine this is pretty disappointing for people who set out to lighten their hyperpigmentation and end up in a worse spot than when they started.

Hydroquinone can be an irritant. “Some studies have shown that since it can be an irritant, it can cause darkening and thinning of the skin from the irritation as well.” Yikes!

It can increase discoloration issues. Dr. Patel suggests using hydroquinone may actually interfere with the sun, so if you have even mild sun exposure (hello, driving!), you’ll probably want to steer clear unless you want skin discoloration issues to battle down the road. Opt for one of the best new face masks on our list without this ingredient, instead.

Inflammation. “Any agent that produces more inflammation can cause the melanocytes to become bigger, making the skin get darker. One of the hydroquinone dangers is that it is an irritant and gets more irritating in higher concentrations, so it can cause skin darkening in some people.” You can try reducing inflammation with some of the best vitamin C oil picks, too.

Wondering what to use instead of the hydroquinone?

hydroquinone dangers

Visha Skincare is a great alternative to hydroquinone products, available here

“There are alternatives to risking the skin to hydroquinone. Visha Skincare was developed after Illuminotex was formulated. Illuminotex is a patented blend of natural ingredients/skin lighteners that are also tyrosinase inhibitors to increase their individual ability to lighten and work stronger like the prescription strength 4% hydroquinone. Illuminotex contains ingredients such as Licorice, kojic Acid, azeleic Acid and vitamin C. These ingredients all individually cause skin lightening —  but together in Illuminotex work synergistically.”

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About the author


Bryce Gruber is a Manhattanite mom who can be found jet-setting off to every corner of the globe. She loves exotic places, planes with WiFi, summer clothes, & Sucre brown butter truffles. Bryce's aim is to do to luxury what Elton John did to being gay. Follow her on twitter @brycegruber

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