Best Hydroquinone 2% and 4% Creams in 2019

12 Best Hydroquinone 2% and 4 % Creams

What kind of hyperpigmentation are you battling? Sun spots, melasma, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation? If it is any consolation, you are not alone.

Many people are going through the same problem, just differently. Skin discolouration can manifest as age spots, acne scars, freckles, dark spots or melasma among others.

One thing is common among all these; they result from accumulation of excess melanin, the pigment responsible for skin colour. The excess production can be triggered by prolonged exposure to sunlight, skin inflammation or hormonal variations in the body.

Do you know that you can actually reduce the darkening of the skin by using sunscreen, avoiding too much exposure to sunlight, using antioxidants such as vitamin C and avoiding inflammation?

What if you have done this religiously and still ended up affected? Not to worry, bad things keep on happening to good people all the time! This is where the services of a skin lightening creams with hydroquinone come in handy.

Skin lightening products contain active ingredients that counter melanin production to gradually create a bleaching effect on the discoloured areas. One such and very common ingredient is hydroquinone. This is a potentially harmful compound especially if used in high concentration. However, levels of up to 4% are allowed in beauty products. We have compiled a list of 12 best hydroquinone 2% and 4% creams.

What is Hydroquinone and How Does it Work?

Hydroquinone is a compound with the ability to create a bleaching effect on hyperpigmented skin. It stalls the process of melanin synthesis by slowing down melanosomes (structures in which melanin is formed) and inhibiting tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible for melanin synthesis. The reduction in melanin leads to lighter skin in the long run.

Beware of recommendations to buy 4% hydroquinone from unknown sources, it is not worth the risk!

Dangers of Hydroquinone

Some of the side effects of hydroquinone include:

Contact dermatitis

Although this is not a common problem in all hydroquinone users, people with sensitive skin should be aware that hydroquinone can trigger contact dermatitis.


This is a condition characterized by thicker and darker skin. It manifests as blue-black pigment on the skin. Ochronosis has been linked to use of both high and low concentration of hydroquinone.


Melanin protects your skin from UV rays. When hydroquinone strips you off melanin, it exposes your skin to the harmful effects.

Other dangers include allergic reactions which can lead to blisters, broken skin or bleeding.

Pros and Cons of using Hydroquinone creams


  • Effective
  • Works faster than most other lightening ingredients
  • Readily accessible and mostly affordable


  • Permanent skin discolouration with prolonged use
  • Photosensitivity
  • Can cause allergic reactions

Following extensive studies and  findings on the effects of hydroquinone, FDA limited the use of over-the-counter creams to 2%.

To purchase hydroquinone cream with a strength of 4% and above, you will require a doctor’s prescription.

Our recommendation is to use natural skin lightening products!

Having established this, it is unlikely that you will get 4% hydroquinone from a legitimate seller without a prescription. It is with this in mind that we have instead chosen to acquaint you with the best 2% creams in the market. They deliver the same results and are not as potentially dangerous as the 4%.

Choosing Hydroquinone Creams: Things to look for

When choosing a hydroquinone cream, it is important to check if the hydroquinone level is labeled and within limit of 2% for creams without prescription. Also, check out the other ingredients to ensure that they are compatible with your skin. You should treat a product without ingredient list with suspicion.

Prerequisite to Using Hydroquinone Creams

  • Hydroquinone creams should not be used with products with peroxides because they cause staining of the skin.
  • When used with resorcinol, it causes ochronosis
  • Direct contact with eyes can cause permanent corneal damage
  • You should not use the products on open wounds or broken skin
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please don’t use hydroquinone products
  • !

    What is the Best Way to Use Hydroquinone Creams?

    Never use hydroquinone creams longer than 8 to 12 weeks! Use as per the advice from the dermatologist or as directed on the label.​​​​

    Best Hydroquinone Lightening Cream Reviews:

    #1 – Vivier Advanced Skin Lightening Serum

    The serum comes packed with 2 in 1 benefits; it is anti-aging and skin lightening. Its main ingredients ascorbic acid and 2% hydroquinone work powerfully to lighten sun damaged skin, age spots, freckles and melasma. The anti-aging properties of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to leave your skin looking smooth and youthful.

    The fact that the serum is paraben-free and hypoallergenic makes it suited for all skin types. It is recommended for use on the face, neck, decolletage and the back of the hands. For great results, apply a thin layer on these areas in the morning and at night using fingertips.


    • Safe on sensitive skin
    • Dermatologist tested and recommended by physicians
    • Lightweight and fast absorbing
    • checkFree US shipping and FREE 30 day return
    • checkNon-comedogenic


    • It is pricey
    • Its effects are gradual

    Vivier Advanced Serum rating: 4.6 out of 5

    #2 – Porcelain Skin Whitening Serum

    Porcelain is formulated to lighten age spots, freckles, sun spots, acne scars and uneven skin tone. Apart from 2% hydroquinone and kojic acid which effectively hamper melanin production, this serum contain other natural ingredients which penetrate your skin better to nourish, exfoliate and improve the overall tone and health of your skin.

    These ingredients include glycolic acid, licorice root and mulberry extracts. Natural ingredients in the serum account for 97% of the total ingredients. Another amazing feature is that the serum contains antioxidants and vitamins which are great for your skin.

    Regardless of the type of your skin, Porcelain is suitable for your face. Apply a thin area on the affected area once daily, before bed time. At first, it can cause peeling or burning due to AHAs. Your skin may require a little time to get used to it, once it does, continue use for at least 30 days.


    • Money back guarantee within 45 days
    • 97% natural ingredients
    • No fragrance
    • checkOil-free
    • checkNo parabens or sulphates
    • checkClinically proven


    • May cause burning and peeling

    Porcelain Skin Whitening Serum rating: 4.4 out of 5

    #3 – Vivier SkinTX Corrector 2

    This is a skin lightening and correcting cream. Its main ingredients are 2% hydroquinone, ascorbic acid, vitamin E and lactic acid. Hydroquinone reduces the production of melanin to lighten age spots, liver spots and melasma.

    The other ingredients work together to even out your skin tone, correct sun induced damage and create a brighter, youthful complexion. You get the best results by applying a thin layer on the affected parts twice daily.


    • Contains alpha hydroxy acids
    • Free US shipping
    • Free return within 30 days
    • checkContains antioxidants


    • Sodium metabisulphite can cause serious allergic reactions
    • Takes time to take effect

    Vivier SkinTX Corrector 2 rating: 3.9 out of 5

    #4 – Clinicians Complex 6% Skin Bleaching Cream

    Clinicians Complex cream is a power pack of three active ingredients: 2% hydroquinone inhibits tyrosinase (the enzyme responsible for melanin production), kojic acid which stalls melanin production and bearberry extract which contain arbutin, a natural derivative of hydroquinone.

    The combination works to get rid of discolouration manifested as sunspots, freckles, pigmented scars, and melasma. In addition to this, it ensures that there is no future recurrence.

    Other components of this cream are vitamin C and E which are great for the nourishment and protection of your skin. Clinicians Complex cream is applied twice daily and consistently for best results. Be sure to use sunscreen to protect yourself from sun burns.


    • Prescribed by dermatologists
    • Stays stable for up to 2 years
    • Noticeable change after 1 week
    • checkIngredients known to work
    • checkPlenty of info available online


    • Mixed reviews
    • Comparatively pricey

    Clinicians Complex rating: 3.6 out of 5

    #5 – PCA Skin Pigment Gel

    This gel is packed with 2% hydroquinone, Kojic acid and AHAs.To reduce hyperpigmentation that results from hormonal changes, sun exposure or trauma to the skin, hydroquinone works with kojic acid to inhibit melanin production.

    AHAs exfoliate your skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and generally keep your skin healthy, evenly toned and radiant.

    You will achieve great results by spot-treating cleansed skin with a thin layer followed by sunscreen in the morning and moisturizer in the evening. PCA skin pigment works better with normal and combination skin types.


    • Fragrance free
    • Contains antioxidants
    • Free return within 60 days
    • checkFree ground shipping for orders of $100 or more
    • checkNo synthetic dyes and no animal testing
    • checkGreat reviews


    • Does not ship outside the US

    PCA Skin Pigment Gel rating: 3.6 out of 5

    #6 – Ambi Skincare Fade Cream

    This is a triple action skin lightening cream that has been used for ages. 2% hydroquinone fades freckles, age and liver spots, and hormone related pigment. AHAs enhance the results by countering signs of aging and exfoliating your skin while vitamin E keeps your skin smooth and soft. The end result is skin that looks lighter, healthy and even toned.

    Ambi Skincare Fade Cream is used twice daily for great results and followed up with sunscreen to shield from UV rays. There are provisions for both oily and normal skin types.


    • Moisturizes skin
    • Widely available
    • Winner of several awards
    • checkClinically tested
    • checkFairly cheap
    • checkGreat reviews
    • checkUsed for over 40 years


    • Slightly scented
    • closeMay take up to 12 weeks for results

    Ambi Skincare Fade Cream rating: 3.5 out of 5

    #7 – DCL Skin Care AHA Lightening Gel

    This is a product of dermatologic cosmetic laboratories that combines 2% hydroquinone, kojic acid, glycolic acid and a blend of other alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). Kojic acid and hydroquinone lighten hyperpigmentation by inhibiting melanin production while glycolic acid enables cell turnover and exfoliation of dead skin. This leaves your skin lighter and renewed.

    AHAs work together to enhance the health of your skin. The problems addressed by this gel include age spots, sunspots, freckles, melasma, scars, acne scars and general hyperpigmentation on your face.

    You can achieve this by dabbing onto clean dry skin in the morning and evening. Accompany with sunscreen in the morning and moisturizer in the evening. You can also use all over your face to give it a glow.


    • Dermatologist approved
    • Contains moisturizers
    • Effective ingredients
    • checkGreat reviews
    • check30 days return policy


    • May take 6-8 weeks for effect
    • Not fit for people with sulphur allergies

    DCL AHA Skin Lightening Gel rating: 3.3 out of 5

    #8 – Murad Rapid Age Spot and Lightening Serum

    This is a fast acting serum whose main ingredients are 2% hydroquinone and glycolic acid. As hydroquinone hampers excess melanin, glycolic acid exfoliates your skin to get rid of dead cells. Another ingredient, hexapeptide rids your skin of wrinkles and fine lines that make you look old. The trio collaborates to rid your skin of sun spots, brown spots, melasma, and uneven skin tone.

    Like many skin lightening products, Murad Rapid lightening serum renders your skin photosensitive. It should therefore be used with daily sunscreen. Also, keep your skin hydrated with a moisturizer. Use twice daily on your face, neck and chest for maximum results. Although individuals may vary, this serum promises noticeable results in just 1 week.


    • Quick absorbing
    • Works on most skin types
    • Rapid results
    • checkPrice in range with similar products


    • Fragranced
    • Contains alcohol

    Murad Lightening Serum rating: 3.2 out of 5

    #9 – Admire My Skin Brightening Serum

    The formula combines the abilities of 2% hydroquinone and vitamin C, salicylic, kojic, azelaic and lactic acids to lighten hyperpigmented skin, slow the aging process, diminish wrinkles and exfoliate your skin. Conditions addressed by the serum include acne spots, dark spots and melasma among others.

    When used twice daily, Admire My Skin Serum promises to give desired results in 4 weeks of use. A good moisturizer comes in handy to counter the dryness caused by the various acids. Like other skin lightening products, use with sunscreen to prevent reversal of results. After 60 days of use, you are required to take a break of about 30 days before resumption.


    • Affordable price
    • Used on most parts of the body
    • Non-comedogenic
    • checkOil-free
    • checkCan last for 30-45 days
    • checkResults within 4 weeks


    • Acids cause dry skin and irritation
    • closeShould not be used more than 60 days continuously

    Admire My Skin Serum rating: 3.2 out of 5

    #10 – “Black and White” Bleaching Cream

    Black and white is a cream that is used on the face, hands, arms and other parts of the body to fade acne scars, age spots, freckles and other forms of hyperpigmentation. This is in addition to brightening your skin and evening out your skin tone. The active ingredient responsible for this is hydroquinone which is known for its effective melanin inhibition qualities

    Before applying to your skin, you should apply to a small patch and follow through if there is no reaction within the next 24 hours. You should apply on clean and dry skin before applying anything else.

    Be sure to keep the cream away from your eyes, mouth and nose. Black and White can lighten normal skin and should therefore be used on the affected area only. Results may take 2-3 weeks to show.


    • Takes a short time to take effect
    • Effectively lightens skin
    • Can be used on most parts of the body


    • Not much info on ingredients
    • closeCan cause acne break out

    “Black and White” Bleaching Cream rating: 3.1 out of 5

    #11 – MelloDerm-HQ 2%

    As the name suggests, MelloDerm-HQ 2% is a hydroquinone cream that lightens freckles, age spots, liver spots, melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation by reducing melanin production. It claims to do so within a short time.

    To enjoy the benefit, apply the cream once daily, at night to the affected areas after cleaning and drying your skin. You should use it with a moisturizer and apply sunscreen during the day. Keep it from the area near the eyes.


    • Used on all skin types
    • Not gender specific
    • Can be mixed with moisturizer


    • Can cause puffiness
    • closeNegative reviews

    MelloDerm-HQ rating: 3.0 out of 5


    sonia knight

    Sonia Knight is the founder of be:skinformed.

    Apart from having her own experience with hyperpigmentation, Sonia has gained vast knowledge in the dermatology field. For more info on this, check out our about us page.

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