What is hydroquinone?

Hydroquinone is a skin-bleaching ingredient commonly used to treat hyperpigmentation.

Hydroquinone and the FDA

In 2006, the FDA revoked hydroquinone’s status as safe and effective, and went further to propose a ban of all over-the-counter products containing hydroquinone. The main reason for this was the inability to rule out hydroquinone as a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) after studies showed increased rates of tumors in rats exposed to the substance.

The European Union, Japan, and the United States of America are all encouraging use of other agents to help lighten skin.

Effective alternatives

Other substances which have proven effective in lightening skin and treating hyperpigmentation include:

  • azelaic acid
  • kojic acid
  • retinoids
  • cysteamine
  • topical steroids
  • glycolic acid