Don’t reach for that tube of OTC hydroquinone cream – It may make you pale – deadly pale – in fact…
Hydroquinone whitens skin by killing skin pigment cells. It is a strong inhibitor of melanin production, meaning that it prevents skin from making the substance giving skin its color.
Hydroquinone has been used since the 1950s in over-the-counter skin lightener products and since the 1960s as a medical product. It is also used in cosmetic products such as hair dyes and nail products. Today, hydroquinone comes in 2% concentration, available over the counter, and up to 4% concentration available by prescription. For a truly explosive chemical cocktail it can be combined with tretinoin 0.05% to 0.1%.
An important industrial chemical, hydroquinone can cause a number of adverse reactions in skin ranging from dermatitis to cancer.Hydroquine metabolites in liver are known to cause DNA damage and mutations.For this reason hydroquinone is linked to a number of cancers in humans, including leukemia.
In 2006, US Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on over-the-counter hydroquinone mainly on the basis of “high absorption, reports of exogenous ochronosis in humans, and murine hepatic adenomas, renal adenomas, and leukemia with large doses over extended time periods. ” Department of Dermatology of The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York called the ban “unnecessarily extreme.” I think that if such traditional-thinking government body as FDA thinks something is harmful, then it must be really harmful.
Today, hydroquinone has been banned in European Union, Canada, Japan and France. However, products containing hydroquinone are easily available online. Sometimes they may contain other carcinogens such as mercury for even stronger whitening. Skin Allergy Contact dermatitis, degeneration of collagen and elastic fibers, and ochronosis are main skin disorders resulting from use of hydroquinone. Ochronosis appears in dark skinned people mostly. This disorder is characterized by progressive sooty darkening of the skin area exposed to hydroquinone.
Luckily, nature provides a number of effective alternatives that will help protect the skin without the harmful effects of chemicals like Hydroquinone. Some of natures most effective alternatives include:
- l-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
- n-acetyl Glucosomine
- R-lipoic acid
- Uva ursi (bearberry) extract
- Morus alba (white mulberry)
- Broussonetia papyrifera (paper mulberry)
- These effective, healthy botanical ingredients have proven skin-lightening effects without side effects of hydroquinone.
Nature’s “Farmacy” is fascinating, plentiful and powerful, and provides healthy solutions to address the growing needs in our ever changing environment.