Mequinol for Skin Whitening: Does it Work and Is it Safe?

There are a lot of skin lightening ingredients out there but most people have never heard of Mequinol. So what is this obscure ingredient and what can it do for your skin? Read on for answers!

Does Mequinol Work for Skin Lightening?

Mequinol is actually a derivative of hydroquinone but it differs in some very important ways - mequinol is a serious skin bleaching agent that causes dramatic skin whitening and the results are permanent.

It also has another upside - unlike hydroquinone, Mequinol doesn't cause ochronosis (a condition that results in bluish-black discoloration of the skin) with continued use​.

It's still unknown exactly how it works but one thing is clear - mequinol causes permanent pigment cell destruction, resulting in a drastically lighter skin tone.

That means it is an effective treatment for age spots, liver spots, sun spots, melasma and other cases of hyperpigmentation as well as lightening overall skin color.

Is Mequinol Safe? Mequinol Side Effects You Should Be Aware Of

A lesser-known alternative for hydroquinone, Mequinol is considered both effective and safe at concentrations of 2% or less. It's highly effective at de-pigmentation and is usually used to get rid of liver spots, melasma and other cases of hyperpigmentation.

But if you're looking to use it for overall skin whitening - we only recommend using mequinol under the guidance of your doctor, who'll give you a prescription for Solage, a combination of 2% mequinol and 0.01% tretinoin (which aids penetration and absoprtion).

The combination of mequinol and tretinoin is potent and provides results. That being said, it can be too strong for your skin and result in burns so please be careful with DIY recipes and formulations you find online.

There are numerous companies online selling much higher concentrations of mequinol but again, please remember that this is a chemical that's not completely understood even by those creating these materials. It's a not a simple tyrosinase-inhibitor - it is cytotoxic and can permanently kill your skin cells.

And it can come with potentially serious side effects:

  • The most common ones are skin irritation, like a burning sensation, peeling, numbness and tingling, severe itching, and redness
  • If you do not use SPF30+ while using mequinol, it can cause a gradual blue-black darkening of the skin
  • Mequinol causes irreversible depigmentation by killing melanin-producing cells - high dosages of it have caused complete skin whitening of animals in clinical trials

If you're considering trying mequinol for skin whitening, please consult your doctor and stick to a 2% or less dosage.

Best Mequinol Creams

If you'd prefer to not go the prescription route, there are a few mequinol products on the market. We advise sticking to ones that contain enough mequinol and other skin lightening ingredients to produce results while still being safe enough to use at home.

The best ones out there? Here are the top picks!

Melasma Bleach Triple Strength Whitening Emulsion

mequinol for skin whitening

This is an incredibly effective skin bleaching gel that's not meant for regular, everyday use. The way it works is simple: you use it twice a day for one week.

That may not seem like a long time but this is a potent product packing a range of heavy hitting skin lightening ingredients.

It contains not only Mequinol, but a range of natural skin lighteners like Bearberry Root Extract, Licorice Root Extract, Mulberry Root Extract, Kojic Acid and Alpha Arbutin as well as skin clarifying and exfoliating ingredients like Lactic Acid, Retinoic Acid and Glycolic Acid to speed up cell turnover.

It also contains a number of skin health boosting ingredients like Omega 3 Fish Oil, Isoflavones, Pearl Powder, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract and other soothing, moisturizing ingredients to keep your skin healthy and hydrated through the process.

Overall, this ultra strength intensive whitening gel is powerful enough to restore clarity to melasma pigments in as little as a week.

Just keep in mind that it is a potent skin whitening aid with a range of ingredients that do increase sun sensitivity (as skin lightening ingredients tend to) and make sure you use plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin through this process!

Right now, you can get this Triple Strength Whitening Emulsion for $35 while supplies last - it even comes with a free Whitening Peel Complex to promote faster lightening.

Raphe Pharmaceuticals Alpha Hydroxy Quinone

best mequinol cream

This isn't your average skin lightening cream - in fact, it's not a cream at all.

It's simply a potent, concentrated whitening agent that's formulated with 90% liquid mequinol for permanent skin lightening as well as 5% alpha hydroxy acids to exfoliate and speed the whitening process.

Because it is a concentrated solution, this is not meant to use directly on your skin. Repeat: do not use this directly on your skin.

Instead, add it into your regular lotion or cream at a concentration of 2% to 5%.

We recommend starting small - at 2% - and working your way up if you need it. You may not need the extra potency at all since this is a highly effective skin lightener even at the lower concentration.

As always, keep in mind that skin lightening products containing mequinol do make your skin more sensitive to the sun and always use sunscreen while using this product!