As you look for skincare solutions, you may have heard that hydroquinone can only be safely combined with certain treatments. Can hydroquinone and retinols be used together? Read on to learn more!
Hydroquinone is a topical skin lightening agent that is available by prescription only. It works by decreasing the production and encouraging the breakdown of melanocytes, which produce melanin to protect the skin from UV damage. Reducing the production of melanin helps lighten dark spots on the skin.
Retinols are skin-safe retinoids – derivatives of Vitamin A. They are used to treat pigmentation, acne, and reduce signs of aging and sun damage. They work by promoting the production of new skin cells, resulting in skin lightening and anti-inflammatory properties.
Examples of retinoids frequently found in skincare products include:
Hydroquinone and retinols work well together because retinols help hydroquinone penetrate deeper into the skin to work more effectively. Retinols can also protect hydroquinone from oxidation, which can cause it to degrade.
As of September 2020, hydroquinone is no longer available without a prescription in the U.S. This was done in part to combat misuse of hydroquinone as an all-over skin-lightening treatment, which can lead to skin damage and treatment-resistant conditions like ochronosis.
While topical medications may seem less risky than oral options, using them incorrectly may result in new symptoms that may impact you more than the issue you were trying to address. For example, you may also be allergic to hydroquinone or one of the inactive ingredients present in many combination therapies.
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