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  • Writer's pictureAnjana Rajbhandary

Can you use retinol and hydroquinone together?

Let’s face it; aging has its perks. We have more experiences; most people claim they feel more confident in who they are and don’t care as much about what other people think. However, aging also affects our skin; we notice fine lines, dullness, brown spots, and sagging skin as we age. It's unrealistic to expect to have the skin you had in your 20s as you get older, but it's also essential to care for your skin so it stays healthy at every age.

That means moisturizing so your skin stays hydrated, applying sunscreen to protect it from skin cancer and premature signs of aging, and focusing on any skin concern that might be an issue for you, such as acne or eczema. Everyone’s skin is different; the sooner we address a problem, the sooner we can resolve it.

During one of my first adult visits to a dermatologist in my 30s, I was told I had a growing number of sunspots. Hyperpigmentation affects everyone to different degrees. It isn’t harmful to your skin, but having darker spots or patches on it affected my confidence and how I saw myself, and the dermatologist recommended hydroquinone.

According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), hydroquinone is an agent used to lighten the darker spots or areas of the skin. It works by inhibiting the synthesis of melanin, which causes sunspots, age spots, hyperpigmentation, and melasma- and they are all results of sun damage and/or hormones.

Consultant dermatologist, Dr. Anisha Joshi of Healthy Choice Clinic said, “Hydroquinone is the first choice of treatment for melasma.” She added that pregnant and nursing people and people allergic to hydroquinone should not use it.

While hyperpigmentation is a major skin concern for me, so are other signs of aging, for which I have been using retinol for decades. I wasn’t sure if I could use them together as some ingredients work together magically, while others are a terrible combination.

Dr. Joshi said, “Yes, you can use them the same night, but retinol should be applied first. Then, wait 30 minutes and apply hydroquinone only on skin areas with hyperpigmentation.” She added that if this method causes irritation, you can use them on alternate nights to be safe.

Retinol is the gold standard for antiaging because it helps fade fine lines, increases collagen production, and can also help with hyperpigmentation. A Miami, Florida-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Stacy Chimento, MD, told Bustle, “Collagen helps promote skin cell turnover, which helps peel and fade away dark spots.” Another board-certified dermatologist Dr. Corey Hartman told the outlet that retinol also inhibits the production of an enzyme (tyrosinase) that causes dark spots.

Retinol and hydroquinone can help fade hyperpigmentation, so it's worth giving a shot. While hydroquinone is not readily available in the market, it’s best to get a prescription from your dermatologist. I am using 4% hydroquinone in conjunction with my tretinoin and retinol serums, which I use on alternate nights.

While retinol is one of my favorite ingredients, it's hard to choose just one, but if you’re looking for a good retinol serum- here are some of my favorites. I am a big fan of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Texture Renewal Serum. This retinol serum has rambutan, which also helps fade fine lines and wrinkles and improves skin elasticity. It didn’t cause my skin any irritation so that’s great for sensitive skin folks.

For a more affordable option, I love RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum because it can visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles in only four weeks, so it's pretty impressive and won't cost you a fortune.

This award-winning serum has great ratings and wonderful reviews from users, so I guarantee, it won't disappoint you.

With this powerful combination of retinol and hydroquinone, I can happily wave goodbye to my hyperpigmentation, and I can already notice that the sunspots are fading.

1 Comment

May 04, 2023

I had no idea.

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