A face whitening cream is a skin-lightening product used to lighten the melanin in the skin and hyperpigmentation, such as acne scars and age spots. Face whitening creams usually contain the ingredient hydroquinone. The use of mercury in skin lightening creams is prohibited in the United States.
Over-the-counter face whitening cream is legally allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to contain up to 2 percent hydroquinone, while prescription cream can contain up to 4 percent. Prolonged use of face whitening cream is linked to premature aging and skin irritation, and hydroquinone is known to cause untreatable skin discoloration.