Among the products that contain hydroquinone are Porcelana Skin Lightening Cream, Bliss Peeling Groovy Facial Serum, Black and White Bleaching Cream and Ambi Skin Care Fade Cream. It's also used in medications such as Lustra, Epiquin and Melanex. Hydroquinone is a type of phenol that's used to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and give skin tone a more even appearance.
Hydroquinone works by blocking the processes that can lead to hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone is also used in conjunction with fruit acids used in chemical peels. It's also used in photography to help develop film.
Hydroquinone was banned by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 as an over-the-counter medication, though preparations such as those mentioned can have as much as 2 percent hydroquinone and be sold over-the-counter. Hydroquinone couldn't be ruled out as a carcinogen because of tumors that appeared in rats on which it was tested. It also put users at risk for ochronosis, which causes lesions on the skin and causes it to turn brownish-gray or bluish-black. Hydroquinone can also make a user's skin extremely sensitive. Doctors recommend that users avoid sunlamps, tanning salons and long exposure to the sun. People who use hydroquinone should use a sunscreen when going outside during the day.