If you’ve been around these parts for a while, you would have heard me speaking about retinol being one of the most potent skincare ingredients. Well today, I’d like to introduce you to a lesser known but extremely potent, some may call it a heavy weight ingredient in the beauty industry, hydroquinone.
I understanding that is may sound daunting, but hopefully after reading this today, things will feel a lot clearer, and you’ll have the answer to whether you can use retinol and hydroquinone at the same time? But first, let’s have a quick look into the skincare benefits of hydroquinone and retinol when you use them in your skincare routine.
What is Hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone is a potent skin-lightening agent that is used to target areas of hyperpigmentation on the skin surface. It is known for bleaching the skin, and it does this by preventing the production of melanocytes which are molecules that make melanin which is responsible for the skin tone.
If quite a controversial history, especially during the 1980s when its safety was once questioned, fast forward to recent years and it is now considered safe to use. You’ll find that hydroquinone comes in a variety of products that are either prescribed or available over the counter. Whilst these formulas are generally tolerated well by many if you have a dry or sensitive skin type hydroquinone is known to increase dryness and irritation so always check with your doctor before using hydroquinone. For those with darker skin tones, it is advisable to avoid using any product containing this powerhouse ingredient, unless instructed by a dermatologist as it has been known that hyperpigmentation will worsen.
What is Retinol?
Retinol is a popular skincare ingredient praised for its anti-ageing benefits with its ability to combat fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity to the skin. It can also help fade dark spots and areas of hyperpigmentation as well as targeting acne by keeping the pores clear of excess sebum and impurities.
Finally, it can help brighten the complexion, it is able to do this by increasing the speed of the natural skin cell turnover, revealing fresher, vibrant skin cells. With this also comes increased photosensitivity to any UV exposure so it is important to remember to apply a daily SPF for added sun protection. It is also recommended that you apply retinol in the evening as the potent form of vitamin A is sensitive to sunlight. Any exposure to UV rays renders retinol useless and unable to perform on the skin.
Can retinol and hydroquinone be used together?
Yes, you can, but be careful. Because of the high potency of both ingredients, you are at increased risk of causing dryness and irritation to the skin. If you continue to use both ingredients in your routine it is best to establish an effective routine that will leave you with optimal results, without the side effects. What I mean by this is applying each ingredient separately allowing about 30 minutes in between applications to help the pH levels in the skin to rebalance. Another tip for ensuring your skin remains in its healthiest and happiest state is following hydroquinone and retinol with a moisturiser enriched in hyaluronic acid to give the skin a boost in hydration.
What should you not use hydroquinone with?
It is known that hydroquinone doesn’t play nicely with benzoyl peroxide, hydrogen peroxide and other peroxide formulas. A result in using these ingredients together will not only lead to severe dryness to the skin but will also cause some staining to the skin. This is only temporary but will only add to the skin irritation.
It is also thought best to not use any form of exfoliation, be it chemical or physical when applying hydroquinone. Ingredients such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, and other alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) as well as popular BHA, such as salicylic acid can cause too much irritation to the skin when used with hydroquinone. This irritation can lead to the skin becoming stripped of vital sebum (the natural oil found on the skin surface) which will kick start the sebum overproduction on the skin and lead to flare-up in breakouts, spots, and acne.
Can hydroquinone be used with other products?
Yes, it can, just bearing in mind to avoid formulas containing the ingredients I have mentioned in the previous section. As for using hydroquinone in your everyday skincare routine you’ll find it is perfectly safe and effective. Ensuring of course you leave enough time in between applications and team this potent powerhouse with extremely hydrating ingredients, such as niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.
Always remember to follow the instructions shown on the packaging and if you ever have any concerns consult with your doctor to avoid any unwanted reactions.
Is retinol and hydroquinone the same?
Not really, but they do provide similar skin benefits by targeting dark spots and hyperpigmentation. The main difference is retinol increases the speed of the cell turn of the skin sloughing away the build-up of dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria, and impurities that can often make pigmentation appear darker. Some forms of the vitamin A are also packed with antioxidants ensuring the skin barrier is protected from further damage by free radicals, such as UV rays and pollution.
The way that hydroquinone differs is the fact it works in the lower layers of the skin by preventing the over production of melanin making its way to the surface causing pigmentation to become darker.
Should I apply hydroquinone to my entire face?
You can indeed, it is recommended that when using hydroquinone you should apply a thin layer all over the face. For areas of concern where there is hyperpigmentation, dark spots, acne scarring and age spots, you can apply a more liberal amount of your hydroquinone product. You should then follow this with an SPF to protect from further sun damage and free radicals.
One thing that you should bear in mind when using hydroquinone in your routine is that you should limit yourself to using it for a short period of time. After a maximum of 6 weeks its best to stop using it for roughly 3 weeks, double check with your doctor you are benefiting your skin, then continue using it as before.
So, there you have a little more information about two potent skincare ingredients that both deliver impressive results. If you have any questions, please do come and find me over on the Procoal Instagram, you’ll find me in the direct messages, look forward to hearing from you!