October 16, 2021 Can Hydroquinone And Retinols Be Used Together?
As you look for skincare solutions, you may have heard that hydroquinone can only be safely combined with certain treatments. Can hydroquinone and retinols be used together? Read on to learn more!
Can hydroquinone and retinols safely be combined?
Hydroquinone is a topical skin lightening agent that is available by prescription only. It works by decreasing the production and encouraging the breakdown of melanocytes, which produce melanin to protect the skin from UV damage. Reducing the production of melanin helps lighten dark spots on the skin.
Retinols are skin-safe retinoids – derivatives of Vitamin A. They are used to treat pigmentation, acne, and reduce signs of aging and sun damage. They work by promoting the production of new skin cells, resulting in skin lightening and anti-inflammatory properties.
Examples of retinoids frequently found in skincare products include:
- Tretinoin is a natural, first-generation retinoid found in many hydroquinone combination therapies in concentrations of up to 1%. Tretinoin-hydroquinone combination treatments often include a steroid to help combat irritation, as tretinoin is the most irritating topical retinoid.
- Adapalene is a synthetic, third-generation retinoid found in skincare treatments in concentrations of up to .3%. It is known as the least irritating topical retinoid.
- Tazarotene is a synthetic, third-generation retinoid found in skincare treatments in concentrations of up to .1%. Like adapalene, it has proven to be a safe and effective treatment for postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (Davis).
Hydroquinone and retinols work well together because retinols help hydroquinone penetrate deeper into the skin to work more effectively. Retinols can also protect hydroquinone from oxidation, which can cause it to degrade.
How can I get hydroquinone and retinol treatments?
As of September 2020, hydroquinone is no longer available without a prescription in the U.S. This was done in part to combat misuse of hydroquinone as an all-over skin-lightening treatment, which can lead to skin damage and treatment-resistant conditions like ochronosis.
While topical medications may seem less risky than oral options, using them incorrectly may result in new symptoms that may impact you more than the issue you were trying to address. For example, you may also be allergic to hydroquinone or one of the inactive ingredients present in many combination therapies.
Only a healthcare expert specializing in skincare can safely assess your skin care needs and prescribe a treatment plan.
Custom Hydroquinone And Retinol Combination Therapies With ClearifiRx
ClearifiRx connects patients with our healthcare experts using a secure telehealth portal. Our dermatologists will assess your needs, answer your questions, and monitor your progress, adjusting your treatment plan as needed.
Custom formulations are mailed directly to you, ensuring you get the care you need in the most discreet and convenient way possible. ClearifiRx can help you address skin concerns and feel more confident as you take on each day.
- Davis EC, Callender VD. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: a review of the epidemiology, clinical features, and treatment options in skin of color. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(7):20-31.