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Alrighty folks... this topic has come up a few times and though I've got no horse in this race 'cause I'm beyond fair (translucent, LOL, I'm for fake tan, not skin lightening), and got no hyperpigmentation anywhere either, I'm just really interested in this... Because every time a skin lightening topic comes up, you've got people saying hydroquinone is the best and others saying it's dangerous. You got reputable sites like Web MD saying it's good. So yeah, I'd like to get to the bottom of this. Is hydroquinone for skin lightening good or bad?

If you got like studies to mention or something that'd be great.

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This is an excellent question because there is so much misinformation around about hydroquinone. It has gotten a terrible reputation over the last few years, which is obvious by the fact that you know all about it even as someone who doesn't need it! Research suggests that hydroquinone is both safe and effective and the side effects you have heard about are mostly related to people using extremely high concentrations for very long periods of time, or are combining it with other skin lightening agents which aren't safe. This is particularly true in Africa and Asia, where skin lightening agents are so very wide spread. My advice to anyone needing a skin lightening agent is to carefully discuss the pros and cons with their healthcare provider. In most cases the worst thing that can happen is mildly irritated skin, if, that is, hydroquinone is used properly.
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First of all, nobody doubts that hydroquinone is effective at treating hyperpigmentation. It is. Very effective indeed. This is not the problem with hydroquinone.

Rather, there have been concerns about its side effects. They go beyond dryness and irritation of the skin, which are indeed temporary. Rather there are concerns that hydroquinone can cause the skin cells to mutate, which means that it is a potential carcinogenic - something that deserves to be taken rather seriously, especially as ingredients such as kojic acid can also do a good job fighting hyperpigmentation without that risk!

For those not worried about that because they want to ostrich it out, you may like to know that hydroquinone also has the potential of giving you bumpy and leathery skin, as well as increasing your sensitivity to the sun, which of course leads to premature aging.

Rosie

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Hydroquinone faded my skin discoloration quickly without causing any of those side effects that alarmist alternative websites warn you about all the time. As this discoloration was on my face, it had a large impact not only on how I felt about myself but also how other people perceived me, then again attacking my self-esteem. Facial marks are not well tolerated in society. They can make you a true outside quickly. This very real effect that happens every day shouldn't be discounted by people who say that hydroquinone can lead to some side effects, like every single med around of course. I didn't get any, but it was the side effects of having the discoloration that I really couldn't handle.
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Well, thanks, this has been an interesting thread so far, short but with both ends of the spectrum there, fascinatingly. I understand both sides I think. I am still not sure where I stand. I mean, I do get that having hyperpigmentation and people staring and the like is something very difficult to live with, if it's on your face especially. Hugs to those who know what that feels like :(. On the other hand, hydroquinone IS banned in the EU, right? When I looked up why it basically just said 'cause of skin irritation. Didn't mention you could get cancer from it.

 

I'd like to find out more about that if anyone knows??

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I think the main thing about hydroquinone is not to use a strength too much for your skin tone, especially if you have dark skin, such as African, South Asian, and so on. I think the European Union has only banned strengths over 4 %, right? Now you may need more. But you may not. And then you need to get it prescribed by a doctor and not buy risky stuff that you don't know if it is safe or even contains what you think it does online. As with all medications, of course there are pros and cons. But should hydroquinone really be demonized like it is? I don't think so. It is very effective.
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Another one in favor here. I used it years ago for discoloration on one of my inner thighs and am glad that I did. The hydroquinone quickly relieved me of a problem I had had for years and had felt bad about, especially in situations where it was on show. I had no side effects whatsoever that I noticed and am fine years later. Honestly, doctors prescribe hydroquinone because it is effective. I get sick of the fear mongering that goes on. I can't remember what percentage mine was now. The spot is still not back, anyway.
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Just looked this up to be sure, Londongirl, and though hydroquinone was previously banned in European Union countries, it is now once again available but only by prescription. Actually, many (most?) medications can be rather risky under the wrong circumstances. It is a matter of determining benefit vs risk. I would personally not choose hydroquinone because alternatives are available that also work, and that do not carry the same risks. Depending on the issue, I may choose not to treat it rather than experimenting with potentially unsafe products if the natural lightening agents did not work.

It is hard for those with visible hyperpigmentation for sure, though.

Rosie
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Ah, I see. Yeah, that makes all the sense in the world. Sometimes you gotta take risks as well. I'd consider that if I had it on my face, like hyperpigmentation. But considering the bad press it has been getting yeah, I'd prefer to try less harsh options first as well. Especially because what you said about hydroquinone and increased cancer risk. But yeah, by the same token all medications are risky to some people and I don't see why skin medications should be any different. Just glad that I don't actually need this because it sounds like one hell of a task deciding whether to use this or not.
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Hydroquinone is what made my melasma better. A lot better. A LOT better! Any time I see people disparaging the product without having any idea what they are talking about, I do get a little upset, LOL. It is easy for someone who has never had melasma or another pigment disorder to conclude that hydroquinone is a dangerous chemical and that it is important to avoid it when it's not their skin affected by a skin disorder and all that goes along with that, get my drift?? My skin personally got a bit dry when I was using hydroquinone but who cares? It helped me.
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I don't know what the hype is all about. As far as I understand, mandelic acid is just another mild alpha hydroxy acid that's good for exfoliation and surface level chemical peels. Like lactic acid. Or salicylic acid. Use any of them and you will basically get the same effect, I think. These AHA products will help your skin perk up without changing anything big underneath and that's exactly what many people are after. For deeper results you do need to start looking at things like TCA peels though.
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