Hydroquinone cream is a skin-lightening cream that reduces the production of melanin (a pigment that forms birthmarks, freckles and also determines the color of hair and eyes) in the skin.
Hydroquinone cream contains the bleaching agent know as Hydroquinone, used to lighten areas of the darkened skin such as freckles, melasma, age spots and acne scars. It bleaches the skin, and this can be helpful in treating various forms of hyperpigmentation.
Historically, there’s been some back-and-forth on the safety of hydroquinone.
A survey published in 2005 in the context of the International Journal of Dermatology revealed that about 92% of Nigerian men and women visiting the skin clinic had reported using skin lightening creams over long periods to lighten and even out skin tone, or to improve the appearance of skin prior to an important event.
In 1982, the United States Food and Drug Administration recognized the ingredient as safe and effective. Many years later, concerns about safety prompted retailers to pull hydroquinone from the market.
The FDA went on to find out that many of the products in question contained contaminants like mercury.
They discovered that these contaminants were behind reports of negative effects. If your skin lightener contains mercury, it could be damaging your kidneys without you realizing it. Mercury can also injure your nerves, leading to permanent numbness or tingling in your hands, feet, or around your mouth.
Currently, 51 advocacy groups sent public action letters to both e-commerce giants, calling on them to “stop the sales of illegal mercury-laden cosmetics” and “to make sure that cosmetics found to have mercury levels over 1ppm are no longer presented for sale” after testing indicated that many of them contained very high levels of mercury.
For instance, in the U.S., the legal limit of mercury that can be present in cosmetics formulas, which was set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in 1973, is just one part per million (ppm).
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How Effective Is Hydroquinone Cream?
In most cases, lightening of skin should be seen after four weeks of treatment.
Sometimes it may take longer to see any transformation, but if no bleaching effect is seen after three months of treatment, you should stop using hydroquinone cream.
To increase the effectiveness of hydroquinone cream:
- You should stay out of the sun, or wear protective clothing and use an SPF15+ sunscreen when outdoors;
- Do not use sunlamps or tanning salons. It is important to use hydroquinone regularly as directed until you achieve the desired bleaching, after which use as needed to maintain results.
How Does Hydroquinone Cream Work?
Hydroquinone cream bleaches your skin by reducing the number of melanocytes present. Melanocytes make melanin, which is what produces your skin tone.
In the case of hyperpigmentation, more melanin is present because of the increase in melanocyte production. By controlling these melanocytes, your skin will become more evenly toned over time.
It takes an average of four weeks for the ingredient to take effect. Although, it may take several months of constant use before you see full results.
If you don’t see any improvements within three months of OTC use, talk to your dermatologist. They may be able to suggest a prescription-strength formula better suited to your needs.
We have read the effectiveness and how Hydroquinone Cream works, in this section we will discuss the side effects of using Hydroquinone Cream.
What Happens When You Stop Using Hydroquinone Cream?
There are so many side effects of using hydroquinone cream that should warrant stopping the cream and seeking medical guidance immediately, they include:
- Severe Burning;
- Crusting, or swelling of treated areas (possible allergic contact dermatitis);
- Unusual skin discoloration.
Continued use of hydroquinone has been associated with the development of exogenous ochronosis (a persistent blue-black pigmentation), especially in Africa, but this is rare. It might be due to other ingredients such as:
- Antimalarial agents, (which are known to cause ochronosis).
Hydroquinone cream is usually well tolerated. Some people may encounter minor and temporary skin irritations including:
- Mild itching or stinging;
- Reddening of the skin (irritant contact dermatitis).
Stop using Hydroquinone cream, if these skin irritations do not subside. If you want to read more articles similar to What happens when you stop using hydroquinone cream, we recommend you visit our Home Beauty & Skin Care category.
Do You Already Use Hydroquinone Cream Frequently On Your Skin? Did It Lighten Your Skin? Comment Below!