is ellagic acid an effective alternative to hydroquinone

Have you heard? There’s a new skin-lightener on the block.

It’s called ellagic acid. Rumour has it, it’s as effective as hydroquinone sans the irritation. And it doubles up as an antioxidant, too!

Is it too good to be true? Here’s what the science says:

What The Heck Is Ellagic Acid?

Ellagic acid is a powerful antioxidant found in many fruits and vegs, including strawberries, pomegranate, grapes, and blackcurrants.

Plants make it to protect themselves from infections and pests. Women use it to keep both wrinkles and dark spots at bay.

How Does Ellagic Acid Benefit Skin?

Ellagic acid has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and skin-lightening properties that help repair sun damage:

1. Ellagic Acid Helps Treat Wrinkles

Like all antioxidants, ellagic acid helps treat wrinkles and protect skin from sun damage.

A 2010 study shows that ellagic acid prevents inflammation and collagen breakdown, two of the main causes of wrinkles.

In case you’re wondering, it works in two ways. First off, ellagic acid blocks the production of MMP (matrix metalloproteinase enzymes), enzymes that break down collagen. Block them and your collagen won’t degrade as fast.

Ellagic acid also reduces ICAM, a molecule that causes inflammation. Inflammation is responsible for premature wrinkles, dark spots, acne, rosacea… Any skin woe basically.

The catch? The study was done on rats. Not the same as human skin. Still, it shows promise.


2. Ellagic Acid Helps Reduce Dark Spots

Even more impressive, ellagic acid can lighten dark spots. You don’t even need that much of it. 0.5% will do the job! Really.

A 2013 study (done on humans this time!) compared a 0.5% ellagic cream with salicylic acid, 1.1% hydroxyphenoxy propionic acid, yeast extract to a prescription combination of 4% hydroquinone cream and 0.025% tretinoin cream applied every night for 12 weeks.

The results? Both creams reduced dark spots. But the ellagic acid cream did so without irritating skin. There was none of the peeling or redness that prescription formula left behind.

If your skin can’t take tretinoin, hydroquinone or other strong skin-lighteners, giving ellagic acid a go makes sense.

Related: Battle Of The Skin-Lighteners: Which Is The Best Alternative To Hydroquinone?

What Are The Best Products With Ellagic Acid?

The Bottom Line

Ellagic acid is a powerful antioxidant that’s showing promise as a skin-lightener. Initial research shows it works as well as hydroquinone and tretinoin – but without the drying side effects. If you have sensitive skin, it’s totally worth a go.

Have you tried ellagic acid? Share your thoughts in the comments below.