Tolerance and efficacy of a product containing ellagic and salicylic acids in reducing hyperpigmentation and dark spots in comparison with 4% hydroquinone

J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 Jan;12(1):52-8.


Hydroquinone (HQ) is the benchmark prescription agent for skin lightening. However, HQ use is recently banned in Europe and in parts of Asia because of potential long-term consequences, including carcinogenesis when orally consumed. This has resulted in development of alternative skin-lightening agents with comparable efficacy to HQ, but better safety profiles. This study examined the skin-lightening ability of a topical product containing 0.5% ellagic acid and 0.1% salicylic acid and compared its efficacy with that of a prescription generic 4% HQ product. Fifty-four multiethnic subjects were randomly assigned to use the topical test formulation or generic 4% HQ twice daily for 12 weeks to evaluate product tolerability and efficacy. Under the conditions of this double-blinded clinical study, the test product demonstrated comparable tolerance and efficacy to that of a benchmark product 4% HQ, as assessed by clinical grading, physical measurement of spot size using image analysis, and questionnaire response analysis. This study suggests that this new product provided comparable skin depigmentation benefit to the benchmark product. In addition, the product appears to have better esthetics (texture, pleasantness to use, skin feel) than the 4% HQ product.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Ellagic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ellagic Acid / adverse effects
  • Ellagic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Ethnicity
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroquinones / administration & dosage
  • Hydroquinones / adverse effects
  • Hydroquinones / therapeutic use*
  • Hyperpigmentation / drug therapy*
  • Hyperpigmentation / pathology
  • Keratolytic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Keratolytic Agents / adverse effects
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Melanins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Melanins / biosynthesis
  • Middle Aged
  • Salicylic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Salicylic Acid / adverse effects
  • Salicylic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hydroquinones
  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Melanins
  • Ellagic Acid
  • Salicylic Acid
  • hydroquinone