How should I use lightening creams that contain hydroquinone?
1. Apply a thin layer of the cream to clean, dry skin. Some hydroquinone-containing products are to be used only at night, while others are used twice daily. Follow your doctor’s instructions.
2. Apply only to dark patches. Do not use hydroquinone on your whole face. Avoid the mouth and eyes.
3. Start slowly. Use the cream three times per week to start and slowly increase as tolerated. If your skin becomes irritated and red, stop using the product and use only a moisturizer for a few days. Re-start the product more slowly and use it less frequently. In many cases, minor irritation subsides after the first 2-3 weeks of using hydroquinone-containing products. If irritation persists, stop using the product and contact your doctor.
4. Treat the underlying cause of hyperpigmentation. For example, if you have acne that is causing dark sports, treat the acne to prevent further discolouration.
5. Use a “broad spectrum” sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every single day (yes, even in the winter). Wear a hat and avoid direct sunlight. Sun exposure can darken all types of hyperpigmentation.
6. Limit use to 3-6 months at a time. Consider alternating with a non-hydroquinone skin lightener in 4-month cycles.
7. If your medication turns brown it is less effective and you need to refill it.
8. Do not use products that contain benzoyl peroxide at the same time as those containing hydroquinone as this can result in temporary staining of the skin.
Because some hydroquinone is absorbed through the skin, it should not be used by pregnant women or by nursing mothers.