Hydroquinone and Skin Care Products

Hydroquinone skin lightening products have been established as the most effective for reducing and potentially eliminating melasma and other hyperpigmentation issues on the skin. Within the United States, over-the-counter hydroquinone products can contain 0.5% to 2% concentrations of hydroquinone, while 4% (and sometimes even higher) concentrations are available only through prescription from a physician.

In medical literature, hydroquinone is considered the primary topical ingredient for inhibiting melanin production. Using it in combination with the other skin care ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids can significantly reduce the appearance of discolorations.

How Does It Work?

Hydroquinone is a strong inhibitor of melanin production (Source: Journal of Dermatological Science, August, 2001, supplemental, pages 68-75), meaning that it prevents skin from making the substance responsible for skin color. Hydroquinone does not bleach the skin, as it can’t physically remove pigment from the skin cell. Hydroquinone can only disrupt the synthesis and production of melanin hyperpigmentation, which is actually true of any skin-lightening ingredient. When you prevent melanin from being generated, as new skin cells are formed and move to the skin’s surface, they do not contain the excess pigment (melanin), therefore reducing or eliminating these darkened areas after the normal skin cell cycle which last 4-6 weeks.

The Reputation

Some concerns about hydroquinone’s safety on skin have been expressed, but the research when it comes to topical application indicates negative reactions are minor or a result of using extremely high concentrations. Past formulations have included harmful ingredients such as glucocorticoids or mercury iodine which gave hydroquinone its bad reputation as it was initially considered the cause for skin damage. This is particularly true in Africa where adulterated and inauthentic skin lightening products are commonplace. Clear Essence especially warns its customers about purchasing these counterfeit items disguised as genuine Clear Essence brand. Read more here on spotting clues and distinguishing true Clear Essence items.

According to Howard I. Maibach, M.D., professor of dermatology at the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, “Overall, adverse events reported with the use of hydroquinone… have been relatively few and minor in nature…. To date there is no evidence of adverse systemic reactions following the use of hydroquinone. and it has been around for over 30 years in skin-care products.” Research supporting Maibach’s contentions was published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health (1998, pages 301-317). Concern about hydroquinone having carcinogenic properties is mostly from industrial-grade materials and uses. For cosmetic use there appears to be no similar evidence.

The negative research about hydroquinone and the frightening assertions being levied in the media have focused on extreme misuse and improper formulations of this powerful and effective ingredient. Not only is it important to use the ingredient in safe and responsible concentrations (2% has been deemed effective yet safe for daily use) it is also worth noting that daily sunscreen application is necessary to prevent redarkening or further sun damage to the skin. Since hydroquinone reduces the melanin (skin’s natural UV protection) production in the skin, sensitivity to UV and sun exposure is possible in users of hydroquinone and skin lightening ingredients.

Hydroquinone has been, and still is, the most effective topical agent for fading and/or eliminating sun- or hormone-induced brown skin discolorations.

Clear Essence Hydroquinone Products

Clear Essence skin care products that contain hydroquinone always adhere to the FDA regulation of 2% concentration. Some of Clear Essence’s skin lightening products also contain SPF 15 so that an extra layer of sunscreen does not have to be applied!

Clear Essence’s most popular hydroquinone toning lotion is the Platinum Line Skin Beautifying Milk. The Skin Beautifying Milk is a moisturizing body lotion that eliminates dry and dull spots on the skin to reveal a youthful, bright, and even skin tone. Being our number one seller this product is formulated for all skin types to prevent dryness, dark spots, blemishes, and acne scars for an even toned glow.

For smaller concentrated discolorations such as small scars or sun spots on the face or hands, Clear Essence Platinum Line Medicated Fade Cream comes in a thicker formula to deeply penetrate smaller marks and scars.


As you can see it is important to know the ingredients you put on your skin and how to properly use the skin care products in your daily regimen. Although it is trendy to say a product is all natural, science can sometimes give us the most effective results to ensure our skin is always flawless! The key is remembering proper use of these ingredients in healthy concentrations!!


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