Over the past several years, hydroquinone has become a controversial skin-care ingredient for topical use. For over 50 years, hydroquinone has been established as the most effective ingredient for reducing and potentially eliminating brown skin discolorations often referred to as melasma, liver spots and café au lait spots. Hydroquinone 4 cream is a strong inhibitor of melanin production.
Hydroquinone prevents skin from making the enzyme responsible for triggering melanin, the chief pigment that gives skin its color. Its effectiveness is based on the concentration of hydroquinone in the product. Over-the-counter products can contain 0.5% to 2% concentrations. At the pharmacy, 4% concentrations of hydroquinone (and sometimes even higher) are available by prescription only. A concentration of 12% hydroquinone actually prevents the production of melanin altogether.
Over the past several years, information about negative side effects from using hydroquinone products has been released. Yet a closer look at the research indicates problematic skin reactions are rare and, more often than not, minor. The negative research has been questioned because it doesn’t match how people actually use the product.
Questions concerning hydroquinone, in terms of it being a carcinogen, have also been addressed in research. Problematic incidences have occurred when hydroquinone was fed or injected into rats in large doses, though when administered topically there has been no research showing it to be mutagenic on humans or animals. What should be noted is that there is abundant research showing hydroquinone to be safe and extremely effective. To show how there are two sides to every story, there is also research illustrating that workers who handle pure hydroquinone actually have lower incidences of cancer than the population as a whole.
What is abundantly clear is that hydroquinone is a well-researched ingredient, incredibly effective for its intended purpose, and that no other skin lightening ingredient compares to its effectiveness.
That being said, some companies, such as Procter & Gamble (P&G, owner of brands such as Olay and DDF) are working hard to come up with skin lightening ingredients that rival the effectiveness of hydroquinone. In the future, patients may have more choices when it comes to skin lightening.
Available by prescription only, tretinoin can have significant results when used on its own, and it can add a boost to any skin care routine. Ask your skin care professional about the potential advantages of tretinoin for you as an addition to your skin care regimen.
In a 1991 study, researchers found that .05% tretinoin cream produced a larger improvement in wrinkling, hyperpigmentation, skin laxity and thickness when compared to weaker .01% tretinoin creams and a non-therapeutic placebo.
Other studies also have similar findings -- that higher concentrations of tretinoin tend to produce more noticeable improvements in skin quality than lower-strength tretinoin creams. In short, the more tretinoin a cream contains, the more likely it is to improve skin clarity and quality.
However, this doesn’t always mean that a strong concentration of tretinoin is the best option for you. Creams with a higher concentration of tretinoin tend to be more effective at treating acne and preventing aging, but they’re also more likely to produce side effects.
For example, one 1995 study found that while .1% and .025% tretinoin cream produced similar results in overall improvement in photoaging of the face, the stronger concentration of tretinoin had “statistically significantly greater” side effects, including redness and skin peeling.
In short, creams and gels with a higher concentration of tretinoin are associated with a greater level of skin improvement, but also have a higher risk of causing skin irritation, redness, peeling and other common and uncommon side effects.
Which Concentration of Tretinoin Cream is Best?
Because everyone’s skin is different, there’s no “best” concentration of tretinoin cream. Most people that use tretinoin, whether for acne prevention or in an anti-aging cream, use a variety of different concentrations over the years before selecting a cream that best suits their skin.
In the US, most doctors start by prescribing patients .005% (low strength) tretinoin cream, which provides an optimal combination of effectiveness and tolerable side effects for most patients. If this cream isn’t effective, your doctor might recommend switching to a stronger tretinoin cream.
If side effects such as skin irritation, redness or peeling occur, your doctor might recommend switching to a lower strength tretinoin cream, using the cream every less frequently or using alcohol-free moisturizer in combination with the tretinoin cream.
Finally, it’s important to remember that tretinoin often causes the most significant side effects during the first two to six weeks of use, meaning you may experience some temporary side effects even at the correct concentration and dosage.
Learn More About Tretinoin
Are you considering Buy tretinoin gel online as an acne treatment? Our complete guide to using tretinoin for acne covers every aspect of treating acne with tretinoin, from applying the cream properly to maximizing your results over the long term.
Tretinoin cream comes in a variety of concentrations, ranging from mild .005% cream to stronger creams that contain as much as .1% tretinoin. Like many other skincare medications, the type of tretinoin cream you choose to treat acne can have an effect on your results and potential side effects.
In this guide, we’ll list all of the different concentrations of tretinoin cream that are available for purchase in the United States and explain which concentration of tretinoin cream is the optimal choice for treating and preventing acne.
What Tretinoin Cream Concentrations Are Available?
Tretinoin cream is available in several strengths. In the US, the strongest tretinoin cream on the market contains .1% tretinoin, or one unit of tretinoin per 100 units. The weakest cream contains .005% tretinoin, or approximately 5% as much tretinoin as the strongest .1% cream.
You can also purchase .025% and .05% strength tretinoin creams, although not all brands offer tretinoin cream in these concentrations.