Cosmetics 101

This month we will take a look at hydroquinone and antibiotics in products.

Hydroquinone is a medication used to treat hyperpigmentation. It does this by hindering the production of melanin. Hydroquinone is extremely common in the U S market, but it is much less common outside of the United States because so many countries have banned its use. The reason? Serious risks, including cancer and organ toxicity. It can also cause a condition called exogenous ochronosis. a permanent bluish-black pigment stain in the dermis.

We also know that hydroquinone is toxic to melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin, the protective pigment in our skin.  Every year of our lives, the number of melanocytes we have in our skin decreases naturally which means we have less protection against sun damage.  Adding hydroquinone to the equation just accelerates that process.  In addition, hydroquinone is inflammatory to the skin, which speeds up aging as well.

Maybe these risks would be worthwhile if hydroquinone actually corrected hyperpigmentation as it is professed to do.  But it doesn’t. Hydroquinone is just a temporary fix with moderate results. Unfortunately, like most lighteners, it must be applied forever to keep skin tone even. Many people experience a ‘rebound’ of their pigment after discontinuing use because hydroquinone leaves a trail of inflammation that likely triggers more melanin to be produced.  THE BOTTOM LINE is that Hydroquinone ages the skin and is moderately toxic. I am not a fan and would not recommend!

Is there an ALTERNATIVE?

Conventional wisdom says hyperpigmentation results from melanocyte irregularities. However, research now shows it is a protective response for a non-healing wound at the Dermal-Epidermal Junction. TRIOXOLANES  and ZINC FINGER TECHNOLOGY both trigger the skin to accelerate wound healing. Using products containing these ingredients would result in the completion of the wound healing process with the melanocyte no longer over-producing melanin, even with sun exposure.  In my opinion, a much better option than hydroquinone.


Antibiotics are another prescribed medication for skin conditions like rosacea and acne. They can be used either internally or topically. Antibiotics have some definite benefits like temporarily reducing bacterial counts, but they have drawbacks. Antibiotics suppress the immune system which may be the main reason they reduce redness in rosacea. They also kill off good bacteria and affect the health of the digestive tract, a problem since the digestive tract is not only involved in immune activity but many other aspects of day to day life.

But my major concern with antibiotics is the overuse. Overuse allows antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop. Antibiotics can also enter our water supply. This is particularly true for topical antibiotics, which aren’t absorbed well by the skin and are often washed off. Because of their effect on both the body and the environment, I think antibiotics should be a last resort for treating skin conditions.

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