Scared of hydroquinone? Sake and mushrooms can help If you've looked at the ingredient lists on skin-lightening products, you've probably seen hydroquinone, which has been used as a skin-lightening treatment for decades. But, oh, is she a fickle mistress. "Hydroquinone, although effective for dark spots, can only be used in limited amounts and does nothing for wrinkles," Dr. Frank says. "Over-the-counter products usually have about two percent, [which] is not sufficient to make a difference." In addition to increasing skin's sensitivity to the sun, he explains, hydroquinone "can have the reverse effect and make the area darker if misused."
Dr. Frank likes two other ingredients for treating hyperpigmentation: arbutin, which is derived from bearberry, mushrooms and certain fruits; and kojic acid, which is produced in the fermentation process of sake. Arbutin and kojic acid don't make skin as photosensitive as hydroquinone does, he says.
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