What are the best skincare products with hydroquinone?
The prescription ones. This skin-lightener is so powerful – and controversial – at fading away dark spots and hyperpigmentation that in most countries a dermatologist must prescribe it to you.
The exception? The US. You can still find skincare products with small % of hydroquinone OTC there. If these don’t work, you need to see a dermatologist for access to the big guns.
But before I tell you what the best skincare products with hydroquinone are, here’s how to use it safely:
- What’s Hydroquinone?
- How Do You Use Hydroquinone Safely?
- The Best Skincare Products With Hydroquinone
- Best On A Budget: Alpha Skin Care Dual Action Skin Lightener ($11.99)
Hydroquinone is the most effective hyperpigmentation treatment out there. It fades away sun spots, melasma, freckles, the dark marks left behind by acne and pretty much any other type of discolouration.
It works by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase (the enzyme that controls the synthesis of melanin) and by increasing the cytotoxicity of melanocytes (it kills the cells that produce melanin).
Less melanin = lighter dark spots.
How Do You Use Hydroquinone Safely?
Critics will tell you it gives you cancer. That’s NOT true. But it has other side effects…
For starters, hydroquinone is harsh and irritating – especially if you have sensitive skin. To minimize irritations, derms recommend you use hydroquinone in a 4 months cycle.
This means using hydroquinone for 4 months, then switching to another skin-lighter (for example, azelaic acid) for 4 more months, then back to hydroquinone for 4 months. You get the drill.
If you have dark skin, don’t use hydroquinone at all. It can cause ochronosis, a bluish discolouration. We don’t know what causes it, BUT it’s permanent. If you really want to give it a go, talk to your doctor first.
The Best Skincare Products With Hydroquinone
Now that you know what hydroquinone is and how to use it safely, where can you find it? Here are the best skincare products with hydroquinone:
Best For Dry Skin: Paula’s Choice Clinical Triple Action Dark Spot Eraser 7% AHA Lotion ($29.00)
Paula’s Choice Clinical Triple Action Dark Spot Eraser 7% AHA Lotion fights premature aging in three ways: 2% hydroquinone fades away dark all kinds of dark spots; 7% glycolic acid exfoliates skin to even out its tone and smooth out its texture; and a sprinkle of antioxidants (like Vitamin E) help you fight free radicals before they give you more wrinkles and discolourations. What makes it more suitable for dry skin? For starters, its lightweight lotion texture. Plus, glycolic acid is an exfoliant that doubles up as a moisture magnet. In other words, it hydrates skin, too.
Best For Oily Skin: Paula’s Choice Clinical Triple Action Dark Spot Eraser 2% BHA Gel ($29.00)
Paula’s Choice Clinical Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser 2% BHA Gel tackles dark spots and blackheads in one go: 2% hydroquinone lightens all kinds of discolourations while 2% salicylic acid gets deep inside the pores, removing blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples from within. While it’s at it, it also exfoliates the surface of your skin, leaving it smoother and brighter. Oily skin will also love the fast-absorbing gel texture. Oh, did I mention it has a sprinkle of antioxidants, too?
Best On A Budget: Alpha Skin Care Dual Action Skin Lightener ($11.99)
Alpha Skin Care Dual Action Skin Lightener has something in common with Paula’s Choice Clinical Triple Action Dark Spot Eraser 7% AHA Lotion. They both use the same active ingredients – but ASC ups the ante a little. It has 2% hydroquinone to fade away brown spots and 10% glycolic acid to even out the skintone, smooth out its texture, and hydrate skin. Its texture is rich and could potentially clog pores in oily skin. If that’s you, apply the lotion only on discolourations. By the way, if you’re wondering why it costs less than PC, the formula’s more basic and lacks antioxidants. But you can always get your fix somewhere else.
Related: Which Ingredients Clog Pores?
What do you think are the best skincare products with hydroquinone? Share your thoughts in the comments below.