The Best Hydroquinone Cream – 2018 Reviews & Top Picks

Do you want to enjoy a radiant complexion? Leave hesitations and despair at the door. Shine bright with the best hydroquinone cream products.

There are currently a lot of serums, moisturizers, spot treatments, and skincare products that are on the market.

Some people call it vanity, but we cannot deny that in these modern times, knowledge and awareness lead us to care for our skin, bodies, and general well-being.

Nowadays, keeping skin clear and in good condition is no longer a frivolous activity, rather, it has become part of a healthy regimen that can make people look and feel good about themselves.

Acids and proteins are no longer chemistry terms that you have to memorize for school; these components are now part of everyday living, as they are present in a lot of skin care products.

We know what they can do and what their limits are. We now make informed decisions on what our skin needs and decide what acid or such we should buy.

Hydroquinone has been making its way into your skincare products. To help you understand better is hydroquinone safe, and how to utilize it for best results, we reviewed and ranked the top products to give you our top 5 picks.


At First Glance: Our Top Picks For the Best Hydroquinone Cream

OUR TOP #1 PICK - Our top pick for the best hydroquinone cream is PCA Skin Pigment Gel. This pigment gel is good for discolorations and is mild enough that you can use it twice a day.

OUR TOP #2 PICK - Coming in second place is Admire My Skin Ultra Potent Brightening Serum. This brightening serum also includes salicylic acid and lactic acid in the mix to help treat discoloration brought about by free radical damage and other factors.

OUR TOP #3 PICK - Third on our list is Clinician’s Complex 6% Skin Bleaching Cream. This bleaching cream features a 2+2+2 formula--  hydroquinone 2%, plus 2% kojic acid, and another 2% of bearberry extract.

OUR TOP #4 PICK - Our number four pick is Emma Cardinelli Skin Bleaching Cream. This bleaching cream can be applied to your full face and may also be of help on other parts of your body such as your underarms, elbows, and knees.

OUR TOP #5 PICK - Last on our list is Divine Derriere Skin Lightening. This skin lightening cream not only contains hydroquinone, but it also has the dual power of two alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) - glycolic acid and lactic acid.

Revealing Easy to Understand Details About Hydroquinone

Still trying to figure out what is hydroquinone?

Scrolling down hydroquinone reviews just to feel you're bumping your head into the wall to find out all you need to know about hydroquinone use, pros and cons?

Here we have gathered all our experts hydroquinone prescriptions. 

Hydroquinone is an organic compound -- it is a type of phenol to be exact.

Another fancy name for it is “melanin synthesis inhibitor,” and in layman’s terms, hydroquinone is basically a skin-bleaching agent (source).

In the industry, hydroquinone is used in photography, specifically in black and white or monochromatic printing. It is also used in lithography and x-ray filming.

For your skin though, hydroquinone acts as a skin bleaching agent, which means that it is mostly concerned in depigmentation or the breaking down of darker spots in the skin (source).

However, hydroquinone has been a controversial ingredient in skincare products. Although hydroquinone is not dangerous per se, an overexposure or overdosage can cause severe damage.

Get The Truth About Is Hydroquinone Dangerous

Like everything else in this world, too much can be dangerous to one’s health. When it comes to hydroquinone, too much of the required or advised dosage by your doctor can even be lethal to you.

Now, what can too much of hydroquinone do for you?

For one, too much of it can cause a severe allergic reaction. Too much hydroquinone can irritate your skin, your eyes and even your respiratory system as it can both be an allergen and a toxicant.​

Aside from causing these reactions, the worst that too much hydroquinone can do is increase your risk for cancer, specifically skin cancer (source).

Although the evidence that points out the direct correlation between application of hydroquinone creams and having skin cancer are few, of course, we still don’t want to risk it.

Some countries banned this promising ingredient even if dermatologists and scientists stand by the fact that it is perfectly safe to use in small dosages and specific time periods.

Fortunately, some still recognize this fact.

For instance, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows only 2% of hydroquinone to be sold in over the counter or OTC products such as home bleaching creams.​

Any dosage higher than the accepted 2% will need a prescription and can only be used inside medical facilities - which means there would be no experimenting with higher dosages at home.

Your dermatologist will definitely tell you that hydroquinone should be used in moderation and with regulation: do not believe in hearsays that the more you put on or the longer you let the cream sit, the faster and more effectively it will work.

So, how do we estimate hydroquinone dangers?  Well, to some extent, it is dangerous, but only if you do not follow doctors and authorities’ orders.

What Can Hydroquinone Do For Your Skin?​

Now that we established and emphasized the importance of proper dosage, application, and length of exposure for hydroquinone, let’s get to the good part. What can hydroquinone do for your skin?

As a skin-bleaching agent, hydroquinone topical use will help depigment dark spots in your skin. This ingredient can help lighten freckles and age spots.

Other skin discolorations brought about by factors such as pregnancy (can be caused by excessive hormones and melanin production), birth control pills, and even because of hormones may be lightened through the proper use of hydroquinone products (source).

Sun spots may also be lightened by hydroquinone. The chemical penetrates deep into your skin and works its magic deep into your skin cells.

There may be slight to moderate peeling as a result of the hydroquinone application.

Before you do apply the cream, test it on a patch of skin that is usually covered by clothing. This patch test is to make sure that your skin isn’t overly sensitive and can tolerate the hydroquinone.

Also, be forewarned that hydroquinone can dry out your skin, so it is advisable to use moisturizer after every application.

Stay out of the harsh rays of the sun as well, as exposure can not only be counterproductive, it may burn or sting as well.

Think of hydroquinone as getting a chemical peel - you have to take some extra measures to ensure you stay moisturized and won’t feel any stinging or itchiness.

The Best Hydroquinone Creams For Skin Lightening, Melasma, Dark Spots and Discolorations

PCA Skin Pigment Gel



Our Rating

The first in our list is a spot-treatment serum mild enough that it can be used twice daily - morning and night.

First (and the most important), this skin pigment gel contains the recommended 2% of hydroquinone, which means that you can get this over the counter product on your own time.

The main ingredient of this gel, hydroquinone, lightens skin pigmentation and discoloration brought about by hormonal changes or sun exposure and even skin trauma such as common acne breakouts.

Aside from the hydroquinone, this cream also contains kojic acid - Japan’s incredible fungus turned skincare product.

Kojic acid is from the Japanese koji (Aspergillus oryzae) or mushroom, and this acid is a favorite in skin lightening and spot treatment products as well.

Despite being labeled an “acid,” kojic acid is milder than its counterparts such as hydroquinone.

Unlike hydroquinone, however, the kojic acid in this pigment gel is used to treat spots that weren’t originally on your skin - sun spots or acne blemishes included.

What we liked about this product is that it comes with a pump - it helps us maximize the gel as we can control the amount we use.

What We Like

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    Comes with a pump
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    May help reduce sun spots

What We Don't Like

  • May cause dryness if used excessively
  • May cause a slight burning or tingling sensation

Admire My Skin Ultra Potent Brightening Serum



Our Rating

This brightening serum also contains the approved 2% hydroquinone - and yes you can buy it over the counter, so it is no hassle to get a bottle of it.

The main ingredient, hydroquinone, is responsible for lightening and even totally diminishing dark spots. It may also address your issues with fine lines and may even help lighten up melasma.

Aside from the hydroquinone, this cream also has salicylic acid in it. If the name salicylic acid sound familiar to you, it is mostly because this acid, along with benzoyl peroxide, is credited as acne’s worst enemy.

Salicylic acid’s structure also makes it oil soluble - which means it can penetrate deep into your skin. This acid can help exfoliate or slough off the dead skin cells and blemishes in your skin.

Lactic acid is also an ingredient in this serum. Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA, and it can help treat your acne and may even help reduce wrinkles and other visible aging symptoms.

Overall, what we liked about this serum was that it could be applied all over the body and it may even help address other skin issues such as acne.

What We Like

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    May help treat melasma
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    May be applied to other parts of the body

What We Don't Like

  • May cause dryness and flaking
  • May cause slight burning sensation

Clinician’s Complex 6% Skin Bleaching Cream



Our Rating

The third product on our list is a skin bleaching cream, and it made us do a double take; mostly because it has “6%” on the packaging.

Before you get alarmed (like we certainly did), the 6% isn’t made up of hydroquinone alone.

If it was hydroquinone, then this product wouldn’t be in drugstores and online shops as 6% is too much hydroquinone in 1 formulation.

The reason why it says 6% is because there is the approved 2% hydroquinone, combined with 2% of kojic acid, and 2% bearberry extract.

The 2% hydroquinone may help in lightening your dark spots - sun spots, freckles, age spots, and melasma. With this bleaching cream, your pigmented scars may also improve.

The 2% kojic acid in this cream basically has the same function with the hydroquinone, but as kojic acid is fondly called “the less aggressive hydroquinone,” the combination of the two may help lighten dark spots without the uncomfortable burning or tingling feeling.

As for the remaining 2%, this ingredient is what we liked the most about this product. The 2% bearberry may help address aging issues, as well as help in lightening your spots.

What We Like

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    Thick cream; a little goes a long way
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    Easily absorbed by the skin

What We Don't Like

  • May cause slight burning and tingling when used before sun exposure
  • May dry out skin

Emma Cardinelli Skin Bleaching Cream



Our Rating

Our next product is a skin bleaching cream that also contains the approved 2% hydroquinone in its formula.

With the presence of hydroquinone in this bleaching cream, your freckles or dark spots brought about by hyperpigmentation may lighten or even fade.

Aside from the hydroquinone, this cream also has 6% of glycolic acid.

Glycolic acid helps you achieve clearer skin, as it can treat ingrown hairs and other skin issues as well.

In this product, glycolic acid may not only help in lightening dark spots, but it may also be used to treat acne as it can penetrate deep into you skin cells and unclog pores.

It may also minimize the size of your pores to prevent them from getting clogged.

As this bleaching cream also contains vitamin E -- tocopherol, a known antioxidant -- your skin’s dark spots may be treated, and your skin may also look more supple and smoother after application.

What we definitely loved about this cream is that it had no strong fragrance - perfect for using it even twice a day.

What We Like

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    No strong fragrance
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    Lightweight feel

What We Don't Like

  • May take a while before you can see discernible difference in dark spots
  • May cause burning or tingling feeling

Divine Derriere Skin Lightening



Our Rating

Our last pick is a skin lightening cream with the prescribed amount of 2% hydroquinone in it.

This hydroquinone corrects dark spots by improving, lightening or maybe even fading dark spots, discolorations, hyperpigmentation and melasma.

However, hydroquinone isn’t the only active ingredient in this skin lightening cream - the presence of dual alpha hydroxy acids may not only help in lightening your dark spots but also bring other benefits to your skin.

This lightening cream has glycolic acid and lactic acid, two AHAs that exfoliate dead skin cells and blemishes and may help in reducing the visible aging signs such as wrinkles and fine lines.

Although both AHAs have more or less the same functions, lactic acid is said to be milder than glycolic acid.

The presence of the two AHAs may provide you anti-aging benefits such as smoother and younger looking skin without being too harsh on your skin.

The AHAs can exfoliate well as it penetrates deep into your skin cells. Aside from exfoliation, acne breakouts may be prevented as well since the AHAs can unclog blocked pores and minimize it in size.

This cream was thick - but what we liked was that it wasn’t greasy and this made us try and apply it all over some problematic areas in our body - elbows and knees for instance.

What We Like

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    May be used on entire body
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    Thick yet non-greasy formula

What We Don't Like

  • Scent may be off-putting for some
  • May cause slight burning sensation

The Bottom Line

After our testing period, we selected PCA Skin Pigment Gel as our number one pick for the best hydroquinone creams roundup.

This pigment gel comes with the recommended and FDA-approved 2% hydroquinone in its formula, but the presence of the milder kojic acid helps as the gel is now gentle enough to be used even twice a day.

This gel also penetrates deep into the skin layers (thanks to the kojic acid) and may even help you settle deep-rooted and stubborn dark spots brought on by hormonal imbalance, sun spots or even acne blemishes and scars.

On top of that, we’re fans of the packaging, and the pump ensures that no product goes to waste and you can get every last bit of the gel out of the bottle.

Though we highly recommend our top pick, all the other products on this list may work for you if you want to correct dark spots on your face and body.​

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