For many years, women want lighter skin, as they perceive it to hold a higher beauty standard.
Various manufacturers have come up with skin lightening creams to address the demand, but the use of these products has led to other problems for skin health. Most products contained Hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone has however received bad press because of the negative associations that people have of it – moreover, it is a harmful chemical that leads to other side effects, which can lead to diseases.
What is Hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone works in the same way as any skin lightening cream – in fact, it was in use for many years, until recently when scientists and researchers discovered links between it and the increasing prevalence of skin conditions.
It works by lightening the dark patches of your skin that have suffered hyperpigmentation due to events such as pregnancy, undergoing hormone treatments, birth control pills or skin injuries.
It blocks the process in the skin that forms melanin, which is responsible for skin discoloration.
Using hydroquinone skin creams
You must handle these products with high levels of care – do not use them unless your doctor prescribes them to you.
Even then, you should follow all the instructions that the packaging indicates.
Before you use the cream, you should apply a small amount to an area of your skin that is unbroken or uninjured.
After this, check the area within 24 hours, and see if there are side effects such as itching, blisters or redness.
If this happens, stop using the cream and consult with your doctor on the best way forward. If the redness is mild, then you can use the product.
Precautions to take
Before you use the substance, ensure you inform your doctor if you experience any allergies or if you are allergic to hydroquinone itself.
This is due to hydroquinone products containing inactive ingredients such as sulphites that can lead to allergic reactions.
Skin conditions are particularly vital to know.
If you have suffered any of them in the past, for instance, psoriasis or eczema, or other conditions such as asthma, it is important to let your doctor know.
In addition, you need to exercise extra care when using hydroquinone if you are pregnant or nursing since its effects are unknown on babies and fetuses.
The cream tends to make the skin highly sensitive to sunlight and temperature changes, so stay away from the sun and cold after you begin its use.
Always wear protective clothing, as well as using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Moreover, you will also avoid products that may cause irritation to the skin.
These include shampoos, harsh soaps, skin cleansers, hair dyes and chemicals, and skin products that contain alcohol, lime, spices or astringents.
Side effects of Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone is generally harsh on the skin, and it can irritate different people especially those with allergies or sensitive skin.
This may lead to redness, burning sensation or itching.
Combinations with other products
You will never use hydroquinone products on their own.
That means you will not get prescriptions for it or buy it on its own over the counter.
Many people may not know it, but hydroquinone makes up a very small amount of the product it is in.
That also means any ingredient that is contained in hydroquinone products has the capability of reacting with your skin negatively, through causing irritation or other damages.
This is a skin condition that lasts for the long-term, and it is due to exposure to specific chemicals.
The major sign is major thickening and darkening of the skin beyond normal levels, similar to the skin of the heel of your foot.
The connection between long-term use of hydroquinone products and ochronosis is not completely clear, but scientists are now finding the links between the two.
Exposure to UVB and UVA rays
Even though you may not like it, melanin has a very important role in protecting your skin from UVA and UVB rays.
Hydroquinone inhibits the skin cells from producing melanin, therefore making you lighter in tone.
But this increases the chances of acquiring dangerous sunburn levels that will increase your chances of getting skin cancer.
Not only may this occur, but the skin becomes more prone to sun damage.
Note that there are other skin lighteners that lead to the same consequence, such as salicylic acid.
For many years, hydroquinone products have been the standard of skin whitening, but the evidence is proving that it is harming your health – leading to an increase in plant-based skin lighteners such as SOME BY MI INTENSIVE TONE-UP Cream that have no side effects and is more natural in their ingredient composition.
It is therefore good to avoid products that contain hydroquinone, even if it is in small amounts, as it can damage your skin permanently.