What's wrong with hydroquinone? Can hydroquinone lighten lips?
Hydroquinone is a skin bleaching ingredient used to lighten areas of dark skin. It works by inhibiting an enzyme reaction in skin cells. Many people are worried about the safety of hydroquinone and the European Union banned the use of it in cosmetics in 2001. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved studies in 2009 to examine whether hydroquinone is safe for external use. These studies are not yet finished.
Can hydroquinone cause cancer? Can it stop me from having children?
FDA is planning to use rats and mice to work out if hydroquinone can cause cancer, harm your ability to produce children and damage your central nervous system. If you are pregnant or planning to start a family, you are advised not to use hydroquinone. Nursing mothers should also consider the possibility that hydroquinone could be excreted in breast milk.
Can it cause skin irritation and sensitivity?
Hydroquinone can also cause skin irritation or even a burning sensation when applied to the skin. It can also cause sensitivity to UV exposure. People using hydroquinone may find that they burn more easily in the sun. Without proper skin protection, skin can quickly darken.
Does hydroquinone work on lips?
Hydroquinone should only ever be used externally, and is not recommended on areas of the body that may come into contact with bodily fluids. It should not be used around your eyes, lips or nose.
Hydroquinone can cause further darkening?
Some patients report a condition called exogenous ochronosis - yellow, grey and brown colored lesions caused by overuse of hydroquinone even in products with amounts as small as 2%. Currently, products that contain up to 2 percent hydroquinone may be sold in the U.S. without a prescription, and prescription skin-lightening products may contain up to 4 percent hydroquinone.
What can I do?
- Avoid products containing hydroquinone. Use only ones with proven, safe and natural ingredients.
- Buy only products made in reputable countries with stringent production laws. Some countries are known to use hydroquinone, and even mercury in their products.
- Get informed – see these sites about hydroquinone:
- The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
- Hydroquinone Studies Under The National Toxicology Program (NTP)