It is inevitable that we develop dark spots as we age no matter our skin type. From sun spots, acne marks, and melasma, all these forms of hyperpigmentation are universally viewed as unsightly. Treatment solutions for hyperpigmentation often contains the use of hydroquinone, a topical cream that inhibits melanin synthesis. Considered the gold standard in hyperpigmentation treatment, hydroquinone has a controversial history of causing complications, especially on skin pigmented skin tones.
Because hydroquinone is often prescribed by dermatologists, it is natural that we all trust that it is safe to use and won’t present future complications. Dr. Zein Obagi is a renowned dermatologist and advocate for use of hydroquinone in skin treatment. But as Dr. Zein Obagi has warned, “For many consumers, hydroquinone is like an old friend who inexplicably turns on you. …But over time, some of these consumers develop new pigment problems in the areas where they have faithfully applied hydroquinone. The product they bought to lighten sunspots, melasma, or other hyperpigmentation paradoxically leaves them with tough-to-treat issues such as severe rebound hyperpigmentation and ochronosis.” Dr. Obagi published his warning of unmonitored and aggressive use of hydroquinone in Practical Dermatology.
More Hydroquinone Does Not Equal Better Results
The internet has made it possible for us to have many conveniences, one of which is to get prescription drugs without ever seeing a doctor. Hydroquinone is one of these drugs that fit perfectly into the new business model where concentrations as high as 12% hydroquinone are dispensed under the virtual supervision of a doctor. Many consumers trust that because they have access, then it must be safe. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Obagi, “Excessive hydroquinone concentrations may induce toxic or shocking effects on melanocytes, forcing them to regroup and increase their melanin production (resulting in rebound hyperpigmentation). Additionally, high concentrations of hydroquinone may provoke skin inflammation. Used on its own, hydroquinone is an inflammatory agent that can cause redness, itching, and allergic reactions. Inflammation leads to melanocyte hyperactivity, which overpowers hydroquinone’s ability to suppress tyrosinase, leading to the rebound hyperpigmentation.”
The Benefits of Hydroquione Not Worth the Risk
In short, excessive concentration of hydroquinone may cause side effects that may worsen the skin condition. Dark skin tones, classified as Fitzpatrick Skin Type III or above are prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and hydroquinone usage potentially triggers such a reaction. As with all medication, hydroquinone should be used under the careful guidance of a physician. LeCerre offers an alternative solution to gently reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and aid in revitalizing the skin. Shop our products.