I used hydroquinone for all of 4 months before I realized it wasn’t for me. This was especially disheartening because everyone I know swears by it. I know people that put hydroquinone on fresh scars and have them 100% gone at the end of the week. I am not one of them. But that did not stop me from foolishly clinging to it for months hoping for a miracle. I had to give up at some point to explore other great hydroquinone alternatives for hyperpigmentation.
Great Hydroquinone Alternatives for Hyperpigmentation
One of the newer kids on the block for hyperpigmentation, tranexamic acid is derived from the amino acid lysine. Tranexamic acid is especially good for melasma, pregnancy melasma, and other stubborn brown patches of skin. It is first on my list for hyperpigmentation alternatives because it is relatively safe and gentle to use. Not only does it treat existing hyperpigmentation, it may help to prevent future ones. Tranexamic acid at 5% also gives simolar results as 2% hydroquinone
Arbutin is the cousin to hydroquinone. It has a very similar structure to hydroquinone. Arbutin is found in bearberry, blueberry and cranberry leaves. Arbutin works similarly to hydroquinone by keeping tyrosinase activities at bay. Unlike other lighteners, arbutin is very gentle on skin and has sun protection properties. It can safely be used twice daily too.
Kojic acid is a by-product of food products including rice wine, soy sauce and Japanese sake. Like hydroquinone, it works by preventing the production of tyrosine. Kojic acid is usually potent at 1-4% concentrations and in combination with other skin lighteners. It also contains some antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
Licorice extract is otherwise known as Glycyrrhiza glabra. It also works by inhibiting tyrosinase activity thereby helping achieve an even skin tone. It also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. I like licorice extract because it is one of the gentlest skin lightening agents to exist. It works well with other actives and also helps with sebum control.
I cannot get enough of niacinamide and it seems the beauty industry can’t either because it’s in everything. There might even be niacinamide in my coffee. But I am not complaining. I actually love it.
Niacinamide is one of those things you absolutely cannot overuse. You’d have to really really try to use too much of it. I have a face cleanser that contains niacinamide. It is present in my toner and moisturizer. My sunscreen contains niacinamide too. That is every step of my morning routine in case you weren’t counting.
Niacinamide also helps to strengthen skin lipid barrier in addition to lightening skin. It is also my favorite antioxidant.
Retinoids are actually out of place on this post because they are the best. They work for everything from sun damage to acne. Nothing else on earth have come close to impacting my skin the way retinoids have. Tretinoin, Adapalene, Retinol, Isotretinoin and Tazarotene are examples of retinoids with tretinoin being my fave. They have a myriad of side effects but if you’re looking to fade some hyperpigmentation, then this is the best.