Hydroquinone is a skin lightening ingredient included in skin care products to lighten uneven skin tone brought on by hormonal changes and excessive sun exposure. Some call it a skin bleaching agent or fade cream. In actuality, the skin is not bleached rather hydroquinone (HQ) blocks the enzyme tyrosinase which controls the production of melanin in the skin. By retarding the production of melanin, skin becomes more even-toned.
Over the counter products are limited to 2% hydroquinone. A low concentration of hydroquinone just means the lightening action will take longer to achieve. Some physicians offer a 4% product which works faster than an OTC product, but you still might want to use an exfoliator like salicylic acid or try in-office chemical peels to intensify the effect of the hydroquinone.
Dr. Gilbert Lee of Changes Plastic Surgery & Spa in San Diego formulated his own high-intensity HQ product for his patients. Named “Lighten & Renew” the product contains a whopping 7% hydroquinone. Available only with a prescription, Lighten & Renew also contains .01% hydrocortisone to calm any irritation, 1% kojic acid which is a natural skin lightener and .05% Tretinoin (a form of Retin A).
As with any hydroquinone product, Dr. Lee recommends starting gradually using Lighten & Renew – three to four times a week only at night and building to a nightly application. Because hydroquinone, kojic acid, and tretinoin cause sun sensitivity, sunscreen is an absolute must in the daytime to avoid adding to the problem of pigmented spots.
Certainly, lasers and chemical peels can resurface the skin sometimes in one session or more likely in a series of treatments. However, using a hydroquinone product prior to any of these procedures will help prevent hyperpigmentation post-procedure.
Because Lighten & Renew is a prescription product, it is not sold in our online store. San Diego residents and visitors to the area simply call our office at 858-720-1440 for more information on how you can purchase the product. Changes Lighten & Renew retails for $105.