In the 21st century, most people want to have a lighter complexion for their bodies for whatever reason. For example, Michael Jackson underwent skin lightening surgery that is rumored to have been influenced by Vitiligo.
However, skin lightening surgery is very expensive that is why most people opt for products that contain hydroquinone.
4-6 Weeks is how long it takes to see the visible skin lightening results of hydroquinone skin lightening cream. Though these results are not typical, it is true for most cases where one is using hydroquinone to target skin pigmentation in intimate areas.
However, with other people, it may take longer than four or six weeks depending on skin type and the actual product one is using.
Most skincare products on the market do contain hydroquinone, however, in some countries like New Zealand hydroquinone is only registered for use in medicinal creams by pharmacies who unlike beauty companies only use 2% of the ingredient.
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What is hydroquinone?
It is a water-soluble aromatic organic compound that is also known as benzene-1, 4 differently. It is a bleaching agent for the skin whose main purpose is to lighten skin affected by melasma, acne scars, freckles, age spots among other things.
It can be incorporated in a gel, lotion, emulsion and creams which are applied directly to the skin. It is most commonly found in bleaching creams, lightening creams and soaps.
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How does it work?
We have always talked about how our melanin pops. Melanin is a pigment that brings out color in hair and skin. So once applied, hydroquinone completely inhibits melanin producing enzyme activity.
This in turn increases the breakdown of melanosomes in melanocytes due to reduction of the activity which results in skin lightening. The results however are usually temporary; the skin color can come back.
Benefits of hydroquinone
It is often used to lighten dark patches that may have appeared on the skin because of pregnancy, birth control pills, skin injury or hormonal medicine.
Here are some of the benefits you stand to gain using hydroquinone:
- It treats melasma, a condition that leaves brown and grey-brown patches on face, cheek and nose as well as on neck and forearms due to sun exposure
- It also improves appearance of freckles which become more noticeable after sunlight exposure
- Gets rid of flat, dark age spots known as lentigines which also develop on body parts that are highly exposed to the sun.
- Repairs, Corrects and fades acne scars that arise as a result of excess oil and dirt build up.
- Lightens up skin to Builds confidence and encourage self-esteem.
Are there any side effects?
In early 1980’s, the Federal Drug administration declared hydroquinone safe and effective. However, as time went by, most drug manufacturing companies withdrew products that were formulated with hydroquinone.
There was controversy that it has side effects and complications that were experienced by its users.
Although hydroquinone is well tolerated by most skin types and has been proven to be effective in lightening skin, it has its downfalls.
There are side effects that you need to consider before you start using any product that contains the agent. Outlined below are some of the most common side effects that you may experience if hydroquinone is not suitable for your skin.
- It causes serious allergic reactions like anaphylaxis as it is formulated with sodium metabisulphite.
- It is associated with minor and temporary skin irritations like stinging and mild itching that comes as a result of contact dermatitis.
- It is also associated with unusual skin discolorations tones.
- It increases hyperpigmentation in darker skin.
- It causes further dryness on dry skin.
- It makes skin become photosensitive as amount of melanin decreases.
- Treated areas may also be burned, crusted, swelled up or experience itching.
- Prolonged use might also result in a condition known as Ochronosis which is a persistent blue-black pigmentation) mostly noted in Africa.
With so many side effects resulting from the use of hydroquinone, you ought to explore safer alternatives you can adopt to deal with the skin condition you might have.
The good thing is that hydroquinone is not the only lightening agent on the market in the beauty industry. Here are safe alternative ingredients you should look out for to get the results you need.
1) Kojic acid
Unlike hydroquinone it does not cause mild or severe skin irritations. It is made in Japan from fermented mushrooms to work individually with cells that are hyper-pigmented. It stops overproduction of melanin to magically brighten skin.
Besides treating acne, this star ingredient works to correct and brighten skin by moving the melanin pigment to the surface.
There is a halting process that prevents the transfer of the pigment responsible for melanin production making the skin appear lighter a few weeks after use. Crazy right? Well that’s that.
It does not necessary inhibit melanin production but uses its power ability to increase cell turnover through exfoliation of pigmented cells on the skin’s surface.
Works alongside skin lightening treatments to fade all forms of hyper-pigmentation as well as provide necessary anti-ageing properties to amazingly transform uneven skin tone.
4) Azeilac Acid
This anti-flammatory acid from rye, wheat and barley calms visible inflammations from acne, burns and scarring.
It does this while destroying affected pigmented cells to reduce appearance of blotchy complexion. It effectively works towards slowing down the abnormal production of melanocytes.
5) Liquorice Extract
What is more practical and safe than a natural alternative tracing back to centuries and centuries of use in herbal medicine?
It contains a botanical compound known as Glabadirin that protects skin from sun’s UV rays the common cause of burned and hyper-pigmented skin.
It inhibits tyrasinase (melanin pigment) activity to create an even skin tone. It also helps soothe skin to gently brighten darks spots as well as reduce inflammation and irritation on sensitive skin.
Perhaps a trusted natural alternative you should consider using. Aside these ingredients you can also try using home remedies like natural honey, turmeric and tamarind among others.
To ensure that hydroquinone is effective once you start using it, consistency in use is vital. Once you have started using hydroquinone, it is recommended that you avoid using sunlamps and going to salons for tanning.
Whenever you are outdoor, try your best to stay away from the sun as exposure to sunlight reverses effects of hydroquinone. To avoid the reverse always put on protective clothing when you are in the sun.
This should be toppled with an SPF cream to avoid irritations and allergies that may arise due to exposure to the sun.
To maintain your desirable results, continue to use that product. If results are not visible after you start using a certain product, it just means that the product will not work.
However, if there are no visible results after 3 months, it is advisable to discontinue use of the product containing hydroquinone. It is always important to test any cream that contains hydroquinone before you start using.
Apply it on the targeted area and note down any irritations or redness that may appear within 24 hours. If none appear you may begin using the product for its intended purpose.
For even skin tone only use on areas that have discolorations as using on skin that is okay may also lighten that skin part.
To avoid temporary staining of skin, do not use hydroquinone products together with products that contain any peroxide like benzoyl and hydrogen.to reduce risk of ochronosis do not use a product with hydroquinone for over 5 months.
You should bear in mind that pure and higher concentrations of hydroquinone are only given when you provide a legitimate prescription from a physician or dermatologist.
However, for your own safety, stick to products that have the recommended 2%. Always follow the doctor’s instructions and encourage others to do the same. Do not start stop or change your medication without consulting the doctor.
Stay away from using products that were prescribed to another person, instead meet a physician that will prescribe exactly what your body needs. Above all you should allow your skin to rest for at least three months once you have undergone hydroquinone therapy.
For whatever skin condition you may have, it is of utmost importance that you explore and weigh out your options before you can purchase a certain product. You ought to prioritize your safety and improving the skin condition.
If considerate thought and research is not done, you could be walking straight into a trap that will worsen your condition instead of improving it.
Although hydroquinone is used in many lightening skin care products, there is evidence that it has a number of irreversible associated with the product.
It is imperative that you make Choices to engage an expert in dealing with your skin problems, choices to purchase a product that does not put your life and health at risk, Choices to follow a safe home remedy that guarantees you effective permanent results. At the end of the day, hydroquinone works but it can also break and worsen your condition.