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BellaOnline's Ethnic Beauty Editor

Why Hydroquinone is Not an Option for Ethnic Skin

Itís time to discover the startling facts about hydroquinone, itís affects on ethnic skin, and why it is not an option. This common ingredient is a toxic chemical commonly used for skin bleaching and skin whitening. Surprisingly, it has also been used in the development of photos, the manufacturing of certain plastics, among other uses that have nothing to do with skin.

Some people claim they've had good skin whitening and skin bleaching results with the use of this chemical in conjunction with other exfoliating ingredients such as Glycolic acid for example.

However, hydroquinone's long term effects on the skin can be potentially devastating. This harsh chemical has also been linked to certain types of cancer. While still somewhat newsworthy in the United States, this toxic ingredient has been banned in several countries including South Africa, Japan, the UK, and Australia.

Although FDA approved, this ingredient is not recommended for use on brown skin, as it is bad for the nerves of skin. Ironically, in brown skin, this synthetic chemical can also cause uneven skin tone - the very same problem it was supposed to correct in the first place.

The Truth About Skin Care Corporations and This Drug

Many companies here in the U.S. are still on the "hydroquinone bandwagon". This caustic chemical has long been used, recommended and marketed for hyperpigmentation in the U.S. Because of the inexpensive availability of this chemical which means as long as it is FDA approved (may not be for long), many companies will continue to produce it cheaply.

These companies then sell us products containing it, hoping we donít get the 411 on the negative side effects of this drug at least until they have made as much money as they want to make. However, more and more of us are becoming enlightened, and yes, there are still some ethical skin care companies here in the U.S. converting to a more safe and effective alternative to this toxic drug.

Although this chemical is potentially disfiguring - especially to those of us with darker skin, it is still being smuggled into countries that enacted similar bans years ago.

Not only are the standard 2% hydroquinone creams making their way into black market trade, much higher dosed creams are getting smuggled in as well. Dermatologist here in the U.S. are able to prescribe creams to patients containing up to 4%. Before I knew any better years ago, a doctor prescribed a 4% cream to me.

As readily available as this type of product is (over-the-counter and prescriptions), it's use further increases the risk of negative reactions in the skin, as well as other health problems that it is known to cause. Hydroquinone has long been a controversial ingredient in skin care formulations.

The fact is, this harmful ingredient amidst many, when applied to the skin, is readily absorbed into the blood stream. Alarming isn't it? Now that the FDA is considering banning this drug in the U.S., skin care companies are scrambling to find effective, comparable ingredients. Not surprising!

Hydroquinone Has Been Linked to the Following Serious Conditions:

1. Ochronosis

Causes a darkening and thickening of the skin. It can also manifest yellow or gray domed spots, particularly on African skin types, which is why its ban is so important in countries like South Africa where it is smuggled in for profitable gain.

2. Cancer

The use of hydroquinone is being investigated for its possible link to certain types of cancer, particularly certain blood cancers like Leukemia.

3. Changes in adrenal function may be linked to hydroquinone use.

4. High levels of mercury have also been present.

Steady, long term exposure through the absorption of mercury by the skin into the blood stream can also cause liver and kidney failure, as well as damage to the nervous system.

Mercury is also extremely toxic to unborn children. Pregnant mothers using mercury-containing creams risk giving birth to babies with brain damage and other deformations.

5. Kidney damage is a possible result of the long term use of this drug.


Is it possible that some skin care companies, dermatologists, and chemists hired to formulate for these so called ethnic lines both in the U.S. or abroad, are not in the know about the latest, safest, more effective advancements in formulas for brown skin?

Maybe, maybe not. Sadly but true, most of these companies formulating products for us are money-hungry corporations that are only interested in producing cheap, inferior products for the sake of greater gain (profit). After all, many skin care and cosmetic companies are spending massive amounts of money taking natural ingredients and converting them into toxic chemicals because it produces a higher yield, at a lower cost to them.

They then add these chemicals to formulations meant to be applied to our skin. For those skin care practitioners or companies who sincerely arenít in the know about the latest alternatives to chemically enhanced cosmetics should become enlightened through research and stop living in the stone age.

With continued education and research, learning should always be part of anyoneĎs standards (even doctors and chemists), especially when involved in formulating products that people put on their skin. After all, learning extends far beyond a medical degree or any degree for that matter.

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