There are currently 12 companies selling over-the-counter skin lightening products that do not meet the FDA’s standards. All of the products contain hydroquinone, a chemical compound that can cause serious side effects such as skin discoloration and painful swelling. The illegal products are not widely recognized as safe and effective. The companies claim their products help reduce melasma, known colloquially as “the mask of pregnancy”. The only FDA-approved cream that contains hydroquinone is Tri-Luma.
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