For women of African descent, the scourge of skin bleaching is made worse because most women (and even men!) use creams made with the potent bleaching agent: Hydroquinone.
Some important facts about Hydroquinone:
1. Hydroquinone works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, which is important in skin pigment (melanin) development. It is important to be aware that Melanin actually provides protection against UV radiation. It is more effective than any sunscreen known to man. It diffuses UV radiation and turns it into harmless heat.
2. Combining Hydroquinone with skin products that contain benzoyl peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, or other peroxides, (found in most acne treatment) is harmful to the skin. This causes temporary staining of the skin. Also hydroquinone should not be used with any of the new resorcinol-based skin lightening treatments such as Clinique dark spot corrector.
3. 4% and above hydroquinone concentration is generally considered by most dermatologists to be one of the most effective skin-lightening and age spot-brightening agents. Overall, it is considered to be a bit safe/less harmful for Caucasians and light-skinned asians BUT not as safe for darker-skinned people (Africans).
Dangers of Hydroquinone:
1.) It causes pigmentation of the eye and permanent corneal damage.This only occurs when the eye is directly exposed to hydroquinone.
2.) It causes OCHRONOSIS(a skin disorder characterised by progressive sooty darkening of the skin.)
3.) It whitens skin by killing your skins pigment cells.
4.) Its counter productive as it gives u dark knuckles,ankles,purplish vericose veins, a PATCH WORK OF COLOURS ON A ONCE BEAUTIFUL SKIN.
5.) It can cause irritation and contact dermatitis.
6.) Even if you succeed in bleaching the skin whiter with hydroquinone products,it often has an unhealthy,pasty look.Also,once you stop using it,ur skin re darkens.And since using it long term is unhealthy,its a basically a catch-22 situation.
7). If you live in the tropical region, the combination of hydroquinone and the sun is a bad one.Increased risk of ochronosis have been linked to excess sun exposure while using hydroquinone. As such, dermatologists often recommend to always use hydroquinonewitha sunscreen. (Note: In the hot African climate, sometimes, even sunscreens do not offer enough protection for the skin!)
8.) Most products with hydroquinone have an awful smelland cause intense body heat and sweating. Users often try to mask the odour by profuse use of perfumes which seems to make it even worse. There is off-the-shelf hydroquinone-based product(s) that’s so potent that users have to constantly stay in air-conditioned rooms!
9.) It thins out the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), which is dangerous especially during or post- surgical procedures, as it may take the skin a longer time to heal from cuts, wounds and/or stitches.
10). It ages your skinand as you get older the effects become even more pronounced. It is not a pretty sight to see someone whose skin has been damaged by prolonged years of hydroquinone use! Age gracefully and not with disgrace.