How Do I Choose the Best Freckle Cream?

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  • Written By: Kathleen Howard
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2019
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Freckle creams are topical ointments designed to gradually lighten freckles. They do this by inhibiting the production of melanin and exfoliating dead cells from the surface of the skin. When choosing a freckle cream, look for a safe and effective product that will work with your skin tone. The best products contain known lightening agents, including hydroquinone, kojic acid, and arbutin. Many effective lightening creams also contain retinol and alpha hydroxy acids, which work by exfoliating the skin.

Your skin tone is an important consideration when choosing a freckle cream. While these creams are effective in lightening freckles, they might also lighten the surrounding skin. Harsh lightening creams can leave medium to dark skin tones looking uneven. If you have a dark skin tone, you might want to look for a spot treatment instead of an all-over cream. Lightening creams specially designed for dark skin tones are another option.

One of the most common ingredients used to lighten freckled skin is hydroquinone. This is a powerful compound that works by restricting the skin’s production of melanin. Over-the-counter creams contain up to two percent of hydroquinone, while prescription creams contain up to four percent. In most cases, nonprescription creams will be able to effectively lighten freckles within a few weeks of regular use.


Due to the strength of this ingredient, hydroquinone can cause a number of side effects in people with sensitive skin. In high doses, hydroquinone can cause swelling, irritation and skin discoloration. People with dark skin tones should be especially careful when using these creams. While hydroquinone is effective, it should only be used as directed.

Questions have also been raised regarding the safety of hydroquinone. As of 2011, the sale of hydroquinone cream has been banned in much of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. While it is legal in North America, research has suggested that hydroquinone may increase a person’s risk of developing cancer. These possible dangers have caused some consumers to turn to safer alternatives.

Some alternatives to hydroquinone are arbutin, azelaic acid, kojic acid and vitamin C derivatives. If you have sensitive skin, these ingredients might be less irritating than hydroquinone. While these alternatives are not as effective as hydroquinone, they still work to lighten freckled skin. If you are hoping to brighten and even your skin tone, a freckle cream containing these ingredients may be enough to provide the desired results.

In addition to melanin-inhibiting ingredients, an exfoliant can also be used to lighten freckles. Exfoliating ingredients gradually lighten freckles by removing dead cells to reveal fresh layers of skin. Some ingredients to look for in a freckle cream are retinol and alpha hydroxy acids.

To choose a freckle cream, look for one that contains ingredients you feel comfortable using. Assuming that hydroquinone is available in your area, this ingredient is an effective, yet controversial, one to consider. If you are not comfortable using hydroquinone, select a cream containing effective alternatives. Freckle cream is not an overnight cure. Still, with regular use, high quality creams can help you achieve a more even complexion.


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