It’s Not Pretty: Deciphering Skin Care Labels

Need help deciphering the alphabet soup of chemicals in mainstream skin care?  

This is the second in our weekly series about cosmetic ingredients and how to make safe choices for yourself and your family. 


  • The most common compound used for skin whitening and to help fade freckles and age spots.
  • Used in cosmetics (up to 2%), it lightens the skin by suppressing melanin production.
  • The Skin Deep Cosmetics Database gives it a 10 (worst rating), noting high concerns for neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity and irritation. (Source: Environmental Working Group)
  • Long term use of hydroquinone can cause a skin disease called ochronosis that  involves black-blue lesions. (Source: January 2008 International Journal of Dermatology)
  • The FDA recommends skin cancer and reproductive toxicity studies on the use of hydroquinone.  (Source: National Toxicology Program)
*Second Nature Skin does not use hydroquinone in any of its products.
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