Should Hydroquinone Be Allowed in Cosmeceuticals?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 General News
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The recent ban in Texas has put the ingredient at the center of a great debate

DALLAS, June 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The recent ban by the Texas Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the use of hydroquinone

(HQ) in skin care products at levels of 4 percent and higher has once again put the ingredient at the center of debate. Now many are wondering if HQ should even be allowed in cosmeceuticals.

HQ has long been used by cosmeceutical companies large and small in skin lightening and brightening formulas as a way to correct pigmentation disorders. However, the ban issued by Texas authorities, which mirrors the European Union ban, and which has forced many well-known cosmeceutical companies to issue recalls in Texas, has many asking why.

Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals, believes there are several factors at play.

"First, the levels traditionally used have been entirely too high. Keep in mind recalls are only on products containing 4 percent or higher HQ levels," she said. "Second, HQ is being used often in excess without the guidance of an aesthetic professional, and finally, many brands are not requiring or emphasizing the importance of pairing HQ with ingredients that heal, support and protect the skin."

HQ is a chemical used to inhibit the synthesis of melanin by blocking one of the enzymes in the synthetic pathway while destroying the melanocytes that produce it. When used in excess it can cause certain skin sensitivities, and because it in effect reduces melatonin, it can increase vulnerability to UV damage.  

"With the nature of HQ, or any corrective product, it's absolutely essential that it be paired with skin-building ingredients like epidermal growth factor, and protected with SPF 30," Allison said. "That said, there are also a number of HQ-alternative lighteners available, which we've used in our formulas for years."  

Some of the natural alternatives include Bellis Perennis Flower Extract (Daisy Flower), L-Arbutin, Kojic Acid, Azelaic Acid, and Licorice Root Extract. These botanical brighteners are regarded as less sensitizing than HQ and also support cell turnover, and provide antioxidant, healing and moisturizing bioactives.

"Though HQ certainly has its place in professional aesthetics, it must be used in small doses and under the guidance of an aesthetic professional," Allison said. "We use HQ alternatives when possible, but when we do use it, we take the proper precautionary measures – only using safe levels of 2 percent, making it known that it is only to be used under monitored care and in short-term durations, and strongly recommend epidermal growth factor and SPF 30 accompany it."

Rhonda Allison

Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals, is a highly regarded speaker, author and educator with more than 30 years' experience in the industry. Based on extensive research, she has developed synergistic formulas that combine the best of active natural ingredients with scientifically developed compounds. For more information, visit

SOURCE Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals

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