It’s true that dark circles under our eyes can result from aging. Indeed, we lose volume and fullness due to decreased collagen and elastin in our face as we get older. But dark circles may also result from the way light is reflecting off the natural concavity of our facial anatomy. Dark circles appearing bluish can be the result of the significant vascular complex beneath the very thin under-eye skin.
However, if the dark circles under your eyes are caused by hyperpigmentation, then hydroquinone may very well help reduce the appearance of dark circles. Here’s how you can use hydroquinone to treat dark circles.
How does hydroquinone treat dark circles under the eyes?
Hydroquinone works by inhibiting melanocytes, which create melanin. Melanin is what gives skin its pigment. By decreasing the production of melanin, the skin will lighten. Accordingly, hydroquinone is often referred to as a skin-lightening agent.
In cases where dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation, 2% over-the-counter hydroquinone products, or 4% prescription-strength hydroquinone may help.
Will hydroquinone treat dark circles under my eyes?
It’s important to note that hydroquinone will only treat dark circles under the eyes if the dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation. If the circles are caused by other factors, hydroquinone will not be prescribed because it will not be effective.
Individuals with darker skin tones are most likely to experience dark circles due to hyperpigmentation, whereas individuals with lighter or fairer skin are more likely to experience dark circles due to light reflection, loss of volume, or exposure of the vascular complex under the skin.
How long does hydroquinone take to treat dark circles under the eyes?
Some people may see results within four weeks. However, you should allow for up to eight weeks to begin seeing results.
Other Uses for Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone is recommended for a variety of skin conditions that are linked to hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone may be used to treat skin conditions on the face including but not limited to:
- Liver spots
- Post-acne spots and scarring
What prescription-strength works for dark circles?
Prescription-strength topicals for dark circles include up to 4% hydroquinone. Common hydroquinone brand name drugs include:
The cost of hydroquinone without insurance starts at $33.50* for 1 tube of 4% cream using an RxSaver coupon.
Incidentally, Tri-Luma is another great option for dark circles, as it contains hydroquinone, plus a retinoid (tretinoin) and a corticosteroid medication (fluocinolone).
What should you ask your dermatologist regarding a prescription?
The main question to ask your dermatologist is if hyperpigmentation is the cause of dark circles. If the dark circles are caused by a loss of volume due to aging, your dermatologist will be able to recommend other products to bolster collagen and elastin production.
What are the best OTC medications or creams for dark circles under the eyes?
Remember, hydroquinone will only help, if your dark circles are due to hyperpigmentation. If you suspect that’s the cause, there are many OTC 2% hydroquinone products you can try out.
However, It’s always a good idea to test hydroquinone products before applying under your eyes, as that skin is amongst the thinnest and most delicate on the body. To test hydroquinone, apply a bit on your face near or behind your ear, to confirm you don’t react to it, before applying under your eyes.
If your dark circles are caused by something else, your dermatologist can help. In the meantime, RoC® makes a wonderful eye cream that you can purchase over-the-counter at a drugstore. If your dermatologist recommends an OTC treatment for dark circles under your eyes, request a prescription for that treatment, so that you can use the free RxSaver Discount Card for potential savings.
*Lowest online price at national pharmacy chains Costco, CVS, RiteAid, Walgreens and Walmart as of 3/9/2021. Prices vary by location and pharmacy, see RxSaver.com for actual pricing in your area.
Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD
Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, is a board-certified and nationally-acclaimed dermatologic surgeon. Widely celebrated for her expertise in neurotoxins, injectable fillers and chemical peels, she provides a wide range of treatments including fat removal, mole excision, Mohs surgery, and skin cancer treatment. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, and American College of Mohs Surgery. She regularly appears as a dermatologic expert on national shows including Good Morning America, TODAY, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, Inside Edition & many more. Dr. Engelman is the Dermatology expert for RxSaver.
The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.
If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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