Hydroquinone – Final Amended Safety Assessment

Hydroquinone has been causing a lot of debate regarding its use in skin bleaching products. Its use is banned in the European Union. But in the United States, we still see hydroquinone products around, including some well-known and effective skin lightening products such as DDF Fade Gel 4, Murad Environmental Shield Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Gel, and Alpha Hydrox Spot Light Targeted Skin Lightener.

Some authorities say that we have not reached a conclusion about the safety of hydroquinone. But considering that hydroquinone has a percutaneous absorption rate of 45% for a 24-hour application (Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology), it is definitely worrisome.

At the end of last year, there was finally the Final Amended Safety Assessment of Hydroquinone as Used in Cosmetics published on International Journal of Toxicology. The Conclusion is

“Hydroquinone is safe at concentrations of less than or equal to 1% in hair dyes and is safe for use in nail adhesives. Hydroquinone should not be used in other leave-on cosmetics.”

With this assessment at hand, even the prescribed hydroquinone skin lightening treatment is challenged. A hydroquinone-free yet effective skin lightening technology should be a breakthrough in cosmetic industry in the next few years.

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