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The Hydroquinone Question

In any discussion of hyperpigmentation treatment, the subject of hydroquinone sparks a lot of discussion. Here's what some of the experts have to say:
This ingredient is still in use but has fallen out of favor. I recommend use only under the careful and direct management of a physician, because it can actually cause more pigmentation when it kills melanocytes.”
Charlene DeHaven, MD, clinical director, Innovative Skincare

Hydroquinone is the only drug for lightening skin according to the FDA, but a percentage of people are allergic to it, and it’s banned as an OTC in a number of countries. Still, it’s the best we have—controversial, but the classic.”
Mark Lees, president and CEO, Mark Lees Skincare

Hydroquinone is known as the gold standard in sun and age spot lightening and, used in conjunction with hexapeptide, provides an extremely potent cocktail to quickly reduce hyperpigmentation and help prevent new pigmentation from forming over the long term.”
Jeff Murad, VP of Product Development, Murad

Although there has been controversy around hydroquinone, it is one of the most widely used and successful compounds for hyperpigmentation. It inhibits tyrosinase and other melanocyte metabolic processes and is especially effective on the longer, thicker dendrites of the melanocytes and melanosome concentrations, making it superior in the treatment of darker skin of color. Although you can obtain 4% with a prescription, the 2% OTC strength is safer and just as effective for pigmentation disorders as higher percentages, and without the risk of rebound pigmentation and cytotoxic dangers. As of December 2011, professional estheticans can legally use and make available formulations in 2%.”
Christi Roberts, educational program director, GlyMed Plus/Advanced Aesthetics