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
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    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
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