Efficacy of hydroquinone-free skin-lightening cream for photoaging

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013 Mar;12(1):12-7. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12025.


Background: Hyperpigmentation and solar damage remains a difficult problem to treat with topical agents.

Aims: To evaluate a novel skin-lightening complex (SLC) comprising four actives targeting melanin formation at multiple levels, namely disodium glycerophosphate, L-leucine, phenylethyl resorcinol, and undecylenoyl phenylalanine, in an oil-in-water emulsion cream.

Patients/methods: Skin-lightening complex was evaluated in 80 female subjects of skin types I-III with at least moderate mottled hyperpigmentation. After a wash-out period of 1 month with a sunscreen, the subjects added a cream containing the SLC for 12 weeks twice daily to entire face and continued the sunscreen use.

Results: Whereas there was no significant change during the wash-out period, the primary endpoint mottled hyperpigmentation decreased by 32% after the 12-week treatment period with the SLC cream. Secondary endpoints such as severity and number of lentigines, skin tone, and skin brightness also improved. In all, 57% of the subjects showed at least a moderate response, 17% did not improve, and 3% got worse after the treatment.

Conclusions: The SLC cream was well tolerated, in particular when comparing with exfoliating or peeling agent containing skin-lightening products. When used with a daily sunscreen, this study confirms that the SLC represents an alternative to hydroquinone, retinoids, and many other skin-lightening actives.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glycerophosphates / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Hydroquinones
  • Hyperpigmentation / drug therapy*
  • Lentigo / drug therapy
  • Leucine / administration & dosage
  • Melanosis / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenylalanine / administration & dosage
  • Radiation-Protective Agents
  • Resorcinols / administration & dosage
  • Skin Cream / administration & dosage*
  • Skin Lightening Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • Glycerophosphates
  • Hydroquinones
  • Radiation-Protective Agents
  • Resorcinols
  • Skin Lightening Preparations
  • Phenylalanine
  • alpha-glycerophosphoric acid
  • Leucine
  • hydroquinone
  • resorcinol