Hydroquinone, Tretinoin, Oxybenzone

I read something about Oxybenzone being toxic for our reefs.. I think the studies were done in Hawa'ii and Florida, is this true? 

Does Titanium Dioxide only address UVB rays?

I just got a prescription for 2% Hydroquinone and 0.025% Tretinoin for the first time.
I was recommended 4% Hydroquinone from my Pharmacist but the Dr. only had one option for Hydroquinone on his computer (a 2% one).. it was from a brand name whose formula I don't like (has alcohol denat/SD alcohol) so instead the pharmacist made a 2% Hydroquinone and 2% Kojic acid compound in a moisturizing thick lotion. Am I wasting my time using 2%? It's coming twds the end of winter in Australia.. how long does 2% normally take compared to 4% to show results?

So far I've only bought the Hydroquinone and am a Beauty student.. We have to do facials on eachother once a week for practise. We're currently using Dermalogica and incorporating the use of machinery (HF and Galvanic etc)

Is it okay for me to be using this Hydroquinone morning and night.. and could I get on the Tretinoin if I only use it once a week?.. I've used Paula's Choice 1% Retinol booster daily with no problems before.. At the moment my regimen is simply cleanse (Aveeno), tone (Paula's Choice), a carrier oil (optional), Hydroquinone, Paula's Choice Resist Retinol serum (0.1%), some nourishing moisturizer  and a zinc SPF 30.. I haven't exfoliated/used any product with BHA/AHA in it for about a month at home and relied on the wkly facials for my exfoliation.. 

The Pharmacist told me to keep the Hydroquinone/Kojic acid in the fridge, do I really need to do that? She compounded it with a moisturizing product called Nourivan I think it's called.

I read Kojic acid is very sensitive to air.. The compound I have is in a white opaque glass bottle with a pump.. is it still effective and will I know when it's off? 
Is it simply the Hydroquinone that will turn brown.. or does Kojic acid do this too? Is it worth having Kojic in the mix?.. 

Can you have Arbutin or Licrorice/Mulberry mixed with Hydroquinone? 

Can I apply this all over my face? (avoiding eyelids).. I've got this brown pigmentation on the outer corners of my eyes.. is it okay to apply it there? Why do I have pigmentation on the corners of my eyes??. I've got ephiletes ( a lot UV damage + living in Australia), melasma (possibly from a contraceptive implant/the pill??.. as I've never been pregnant and am 30yrs old) and some brown post inflammatory hyperpigmentation on the corners of my mouth from a coffee burn :S lol..

If I was to only apply the compound on the darker pigmented areas of my face I feel like my already lengthy regimen would take forever.. does it really lighten the 'normal' skin as well? Is it okay to apply it all over my face except for the eyelids? 

Also does my skin have to be completely clean slate and dry to apply Hydroquinone or can I apply other product first like a carrier oil/ serum or even moisturizer? 

I read one of your articles/podcasts about Hydroquinone and found it very informative (as usual!).. In regards to the pigmentation being either epidermal or dermal depth.. what KINDS of pigmentation tend to be at which level? 
Is hormonal pigmentation something usually deeper or epidermal?.. Is sun damage/freckles that have been there forever something Dermal.. or epidermal?..Is topical treatment going to work for epidermal pigmentation?.. 

Is Hydroquinone really an antioxidant? I read somewhere it's causing oxidation/oxidization to the melanocytes..? Does this means it's also oxidizing healthy cells? 

What's the highest % of Hydroquinone safe to use.. do you use it for 3 mnths on n 3 months off.. or 6months on? 


  • Hi Casscass, 

    Thanks for taking the time to share all your questions. I wish I was well informed enough to know the answer to every single thing you asked off the top of my head. Unfortunately I'm not and I don't have time to research each point right now. We have written about hydroquinone and kojic before and pretty much everything we found out is discussed  here: What’s the best skin lightening ingredient? Episode 35. I hope you find this helpful. 

    Titanium dioxide is effective UVB and short UVA rays. It doesn't do so well against long UVA. 
  • Hi Randy
    I'm sorry this is late, Hydroquinone isn't very popular in Australia like other countries in fact most people haven't heard of it or think it's banned/toxic.  
    I listened to the podcast and read the blog and fond it very helpful.

    Thank you
    Kind regards,

  • edited September 2016
    Hi Cass

    I am also located in Australia and have done some self- study extensively on the topics you asked. I am neither a beauty professional nor a cosmetic chemist and definitely not a doctor.  I could quote several medical studies and dermatologists if you like to support as well as sharing my personal experience. Most of which I have shared on my blog.

    Currently, i am using Tretinoin Microsphere 0.1 + Niacinamide + Vitamin C (mix of SAP + Tetra C + MAP + AA2G) + Azelaic Acid + Glycolic Acid and weekly Salicylic Acid (for my cloggy pores). Most importantly, physical filter >20% Zinc Oxide sunscreen. I rotate Hydroquinone 3 months on 3 months off. I use Kojic acid in a product by PCA Skin together with my Clarisonic. You can see I'm pretty serious about this pigmentation and am pleased to say I have been effective in lightening it by 90% since I got that last August.

    I was using Hydroquinone last in June this year and had been resting on it, in the meantime, I use Azelaic Acid (Finacea gel has 15%), I am using a gentler formula containing Azelaic Acid & Glycolic Acid daily, it also includes other anti-aging ingredients). I intend to start hydroquinone again on 1 November to coincide with summer here in Australia for the tyrosinase Inhibiting properties when I need it most. 

    I was seeing a dermatologist for the past 10 years and he had hydroquinone in his own private label of products. It was very elegantly formulated as there were no fillers. I was recommended to use it 2x a day. The recommended dose is 2% for OTC in Australia and you can find it in John Plunkett's products (Australian brand) and Paula's Choice. For serious cases of pigmentation, typically, a dermatologist will prescribe 4% Hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is safe if used as recommended. Unfortunately, hydroquinone is abused in some countries (over 10% concentration).

    Both Hydroquinone and Kojic acid are very unstable. I have both ingredients I play with in my DIY. So to minimise degradation, I will use the best packaging (UV protected airless pump bottle) + store in the refrigerator. So eliminating air, light, UV, heat & bacteria (no to jars); factors which contribute to oxidation.

    Oh yes, I DIY with L-Ascorbic Acid and Kojic Acid. It makes a really nice combo. Haven't seen it on the shelves, but both have low pH and there is a study to back up how they play nicely together in formulae. I am guessing the main reason why is the super high oxidative stability of this combinationn.

    Hope this helps. :x

    I'm off to check Beauty's brains' post on Hydroquinone and Pigmentation.
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