August 20 2014

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Dr. Marmur On Getting Even


BalmainThis column features tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox.

The journal of the American College of Toxicology stated in 1994 that hydroquinone is not safe for topical use, yet it’s still widely available today (despite being banned in multiple countries outside of the U.S.). Do you still recommend using this ingredient to treat hyperpigmentation?

It is safe to use for three to six months at a time on small areas, such as the face. Black-market hydroquinone creams at concentrations over 4 percent (the amount found in most prescription versions), however, are the instigators of most problems, such as a blue-black discoloration called ochronosis. If you still have concerns, there are other alternative actives—like retinol, vitamin C, kojic acid, and niacinamide—that can lighten skin effectively.

For an over-the-counter formula that helps even your complexion minus hydroquinone, try SkinMedica Lytera Skin Brightening Complex, $125,

Dr. Ellen Marmur is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, the founder of Marmur Medical, and the associate clinical professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center in the Department of Dermatology and the Department of Genetics and Genomic Research.

Photo: Sonny Vandevelde/

The Doctor Is In