Hydroquinone is a skin lightener used in many whitening creams and dark mark fade treatments. It reduces the production of melanin in your skin, so it is great for fading hyperpigmentation, acne marks, sun spots, melasma, and other skin discoloration issues. It is one of the active ingredients in so many popular skin care line. .
Why is Hydroquinone Bad?
Without a doubt, hydroquinone is very effective for treating hyperpigmentation issues. However, its safety is also highly questionable.
The reason hydroquinone gets such a bad reputation is because studies have shown that hydroquinone has some carcinogenic effects when applied to skin. It is considered cytotoxic (toxic to cells) and mutagenic. Studies have also shown that long term hydroquinone use can cause exogenous ochronosis, which is when your skin turns a bluish and black color.
Hydroquinone not only inhibits melanin production to help lighten skin, but long term use can actually damage your pigment cells.
Other side effects of hydroquinone use include:
Increased exposure to UV radiation
Sensitivity to sunlight
Increased risks of getting hyperpigmentation
Contact dermatitis and skin irritation
Thick, leathery, and bumpy skin
Because hydroquinone decreases the melanin pigments in your skin, your skin becomes more sensitive to the sun. This increases UVA and UVB exposure, which in turn, increases the risk of getting more future hyperpigmentation, especially if you don't use a photostable, highly protective sunscreen at all times. .
Hydroquinone also turns toxic when exposed to sunlight.
Aside from exogenous ochronosis and sun sensitivity, long-term hydroquinone use is also known to cause skin to get thick, leathery, and bumpy. Short-term side effects of hydroquinone include redness, irritation, and contact dermatitis.