Top 9 Lightening Creams For Black Skin Without Hydroquinone In 2024

These brightening creams can give you the even-toned skin you always wanted.

Written by , MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach Shiboli Chakraborti MA (English Literature), Certified Skin Care Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature), Diploma In Health & Wellness Aditi Naskar MA (English Literature), Diploma In Health & Wellness linkedin_icon Experience: 5 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 11 years
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All products recommended on StyleCraze are independently selected by our editorial team. If you make a purchase through any of these links, we may receive a commission. Learn more about our product selection process.

Find the best lightening cream for black skin without hydroquinone is not easy. Luckily, you have come to the right place! Have you recently noticed any unusual changes in your skin color? Has your complexion become uneven? Do not be alarmed. Sun exposure, pigmentation, breakouts, and rashes are common skin problems that can make your skin tone look uneven. While it is always best to visit a doctor if you notice any changes in your skin color, you could also use lightening cream as a preventative measure.

These lightening creams lighten dark patches, hyperpigmentation, and age spots, revealing the natural skin tone and brightening it. However, most of them incorporate hydroquinone, a common skin irritant and bleaching ingredient. If you are seeking a hydroquinone-free alternative, we have got you covered. Scroll down to check out the best 9 lightening creams that don’t contain hydroquinone!

Top Picks
Check Price
Best Gentle Formula:Advanced Clinicals Dark Spot Therapeutic Cream
Price on Amazon
Price on Walmart
Best Lightweight:Dermalogica Biolumin-C Gel MoisturizerPrice on Amazon
Best Fragrance-Free Formula:Intraceuticals Opulence Moisture Brightening Cream
Price on Amazon
Price on Walmart
Best Lightweight Formula:Medik8 C-Tetra Cream
Price on Amazon
Best For Sensitive Skin:LANEIGE Radian-C Cream
Price on Amazon
Best Affordable Option:Divine Derriere Dark Spot Corrector
Price on Amazon
Best For Hyper-pigmentation:Ebanel Dr Lightening Ultra Potent Facial CreamPrice on AmazonPrice on Walmart
Best Mild Fragrance:Mesoestetic Energy C Intensive Cream
Price on Amazon
Price on Walmart
Best For Dull Skin:Obagi Nu-Derm Skin Brightening Cream
Price on Amazon
Price on Walmart

Top 9 Lightening Creams Without Hydroquinone

Best Gentle Formula:Advanced Clinicals Dark Spot Therapeutic Cream

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4
Advanced Clinicals Dark Spot Therapeutic Cream Image: Advanced Clinicals

If you have dark spots on your face, try this cream. The Dark Spot Therapeutic Cream by Advanced Clinicals is enriched with vitamin C, an ingredient known for skin brightening properties. It helps to fade dark spots, marks, redness, and sun damage to brighten your skin. You can apply the beauty cream on your face, neck, arms, and legs. This therapeutic cream also contains jojoba oil, shea butter, and licorice extract that keeps the skin moisturized and prevent the early signs of aging like fine lines. It is safe for pregnant women, but ensure you consult a doctor before using it. It is better to use a doctor-recommended and dermatologist-tested product in such cases. Here’s a personal review video to help you get a better understanding of the product. The skin lightening product is not tested on animals.

Key Ingredients:

    • Vitamin C
    • Licorice
    • Jojoba oil

Pros

  • Gentle
  • Cruelty-free
  • Can be used on body and face

Cons

  • Results take time
worth-buy-icon

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

A whopping 1,086 reviews on Amazon make it obvious that users genuinely love this product.


Best Lightweight:Dermalogica Biolumin-C Gel Moisturizer

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4.6
dermalogica Biolumin-C Gel Moisturizer Image: Dermalogica

The Biolumin-C gel moisturizer from Dermalogica gives instant hydration to the skin while boosting the radiance. It is rich in botanical ingredients like squalene and vitamin C, which increases the skin’s elasticity, minimizes age spots, and combats other skin imperfections. This plant-based formula also contains hyaluronic acid, which retains the lost moisture while promoting healthy and glowing skin. It is also enriched with phytic acid, which controls the production of melanin and reduces hyperpigmentation. In addition, it is a lightweight formulation that absorbs instantly to rejuvenate the skin and make it look brighter-looking and plump.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Quick-absorbing
  • Ideal for all skin types
  • Improves skin tone
  • Boosts natural glow
  • Offers intense hydration
  • Cruelty-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Color-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan
  • Paraben-free

Cons

  • Might feel sticky upon application
  • May not be ideal for oily skin type

protip_icon Pro Tip
Vitamin C as an ingredient works best when paired with sunscreen. Therefore, top this cream with your regular sunscreen in the morning for the best results.


Best Fragrance-Free Formula:Intraceuticals Opulence Moisture Brightening Cream

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4.2

The Intraceuticals Opulence Moisture Brightening Cream protects your skin from harmful environmental aggressors. It helps minimize skin imperfections and signs of premature aging, such as dark spots, dry and flaky skin, and uneven skin tone. It contains peptides, powerful antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E that have skin healing properties and helps make the skin more resilient. This cream also includes yellow dock root extract and cocoa butter that lock in moisture, increase the hydration level, deliver potent antioxidants to your skin, and brighten it.

Key Ingredients:

    • Vitamins A, C, and E
    • Cocoa butter
    • Yellow dock root extract

Pros

  • No artificial fragrance
  • Sulfate-free
  • Vegan

Cons

  • Contains phenoxyethanol

protip_icon Trivia
Intraceuticals also offers spa treatments and skincare products solely based on innovations and cutting-edge technology.

Advanced Clinicals Dark Spot Therapeutic Cream
Best Gentle Formula
Dermalogica Biolumin-C Gel Moisturizer
Best Lightweight
Intraceuticals Opulence Moisture Brightening Cream
Best Fragrance-Free Formula
Number of Items 2--
Dimensions- 3.8 x 3.8 x 5.25 inches 1.3 x 1.3 x 5.7 inches
Weight- 3.39 Ounces. 4.8 Ounces
Rating
Reviews1,086-6
Price$17.99$69$65.99

Best Lightweight Formula:Medik8 C-Tetra Cream

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4.3

This is a vitamin C serum in cream form. The Medika C-Tetra Cream contains essential vitamins like C and E that prevent damage caused by harmful free radicals. It protects the skin against environmental aggressors like pollution and UV exposure to prevent premature aging, sun spots, and dullness. This fast-absorbing formula is perfect for those who have uneven skin tone and deal with the common skin pigmentation issue. The hydrating formula uses tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, a lipid-soluble form of vitamin C that minimizes skin irritation and brightens it. This cream has a refreshing citrus fragrance. It is recommended to try patch testing prior to use.

Key Ingredient:

    • 100% Vitamin C

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Lightweight
  • No artificial fragrance
  • No synthetic colors
  • Paraben-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • None


Best For Sensitive Skin:LANEIGE Radian-C Cream

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4.4
Laneige Radian-C Cream Image: Laneige

LANEIGE Radian-C Cream is a Korean lightening cream infused with 8.5 percent vitamin C, which brightens the skin and alleviates early signs of aging. It is dermatologist-tested, gentle on the skin, does not contain harsh chemicals, and has a hypoallergenic formula, making it safe for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It also has MelasolvTM, a patented ingredient equivalent to 20 times the amount of niacinamide, reducing even the minute dark spots within a few uses. The cream also helps restore the skin damage caused by UV light, improves the condition of dull skin, soothes redness, and keeps the skin hydrated. In addition, it is non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog skin pores. Instead, it allows your skin to breathe, stimulating blood circulation and softening it. The skin lightening product offers visible results in two weeks and will help you combat any and every skin issue.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Quick absorbing
  • Non-greasy
  • Hydrating
  • Reduces dark spots
  • Dermatologically tested
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Clinically-tested

Cons

  • None

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can also use this formula twice daily on dark elbows to lighten the color.


Best Affordable Option:Divine Derriere Dark Spot Corrector

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3.6
Divine Derriere Dark Spot Corrector Image: Divine Derriere

The Divine Derriere Dark Spot Corrector contains arbutin, a powerful brightening combination of B-white skin peptide, and a particular blend of natural plant-based ingredients. Arbutin, kojic acid, niacinamide, and lactic acid help erase dark spots caused by sun exposure, aging, and pregnancy and prevent melanin development, giving your skin a radiant glow and youthful appearance. This powerful combination of ingredients keeps the skin blemish-free by eliminating the appearance of acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots while offering a relaxing and calming sensation to your skin.

Key Ingredients:

    • Arbutin
    • Kojic acid
    • Niacinamide
    • Lactic acid

Pros

  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Fast-absorbing formula
  • Cruelty-free
  • Natural ingredients
  • Paraben-free
  • Affordable

Cons

  • None


Best For Hyper-pigmentation:Ebanel Dr Lightening Ultra Potent Facial Cream

Ebanel Dark Spots Lightening Ultra Potent Facial Cream is a clinically proven formula that reduces dark spots, freckles, and discolorations. It is enriched with glycolic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid, which fades dark spots, freckles, and uneven pigment, and reduces acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. In addition, it contains retinol, peptides, hyaluronic acid, green tea extract, azelaic acid, vitamin B5, and cucumber extract, which helps in removing dead skin cells and cell renewal and improves the overall skin texture. The hydrating formula also possesses anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties and aims to preserve the youthfulness of your skin. With consistent use, your skin looks clearer and even-toned.

Pros

  • Non-comedogenic
  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Doesn’t feel greasy
  • Gentle on skin
  • Cruelty-Free
  • cGMP Certified
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Paraben-free

Cons

  • Not suitable for sensitive skin
worth-buy-icon

Why We Think It's Worth Buying

The overwhelming 3,077 positive reviews on Amazon show how popular this product is with happy users.


Best Mild Fragrance:Mesoestetic Energy C Intensive Cream

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4.2

This skin brightening skin is meant to fight the first signs of aging. The Mesoestetic Energy C Intensive Cream belongs to the Energy C cosmeceutical line by the brand. It contains a high concentration of vitamin C that fights photoaging and other damage caused by UV rays. It also contains hydrolyzed marine collagen and essential amino acids that promote collagen development and keep the skin healthy. This cream stimulates the fibroblasts to up the collagen levels, boosts the moisture level of the skin, and has proven to deliver visible results.

Key Ingredient:

    • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Pros

  • Mild fragrance
  • Lightweight
  • Gets absorbed quickly
  • Clinically verified

Cons

  • Greasy
  • Contains silicone
  • Contains PEG


Best For Dull Skin:Obagi Nu-Derm Skin Brightening Cream

The Obagi Nu Derm Skin Brightening Cream reduces dark spots, sun damage, hyperpigmentation and even tones the skin. This hydroquinone-free skin lightener helps brighten the skin by minimizing flaws caused by melasma, UV damage, and acne. It promotes healthy cell regeneration, resulting in a radiant look. This cream is formulated with vitamins, active antioxidants, natural ingredients, and 7% arbutin that provides essential nutrition to the skin and progressively improves the appearance of blotchy and discolored skin. Antioxidants protect your skin from potential damage, and vitamins boost collagen production, which repairs the skin from within and reduces inflammation.

Key Ingredient:

    • Arbutin
    • Lactic acid
    • Vitamin C

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Reduces hyperpigmentation
  • Promotes radiant skin
  • Natural ingredients
  • Suitable for dry skin

Cons

  • Contains sodium metabisulfite
*The prices provided in this article are based on the latest available information. However, they may vary due to changes in pricing by the seller and/or promotional offers.

These are the 9 best skin brightening creams without hydroquinone available on the market. You must be wondering what the deal with hydroquinone is. Here’s why you should stay away from this ingredient.

What Is Hydroquinone? Is It Really Harmful To The Skin?

Hydroquinone is a skin bleaching agent. It is commonly used for treating hyperpigmentation, melasma, dark spots, and similar issues. The FDA allows 2% hydroquinone in OTC products and considers it safe. It is well-tolerated, but it may cause:

  • Stinging sensation
  • Itching
  • Redness (contact dermatitis)
  • Burning sensation
  • Swelling
  • Crusting
  • Unusual skin discoloration

Moreover, hydroquinone creams often contain sodium metabisulphite, and that may cause serious allergic reactions. Hence, it is best to avoid hydroquinone unless suggested by the doctor. If you plan to buy skin brightening cream, here are a few tips to go about it.

How To Choose The Best Lightening Creams

  • Check The Ingredients: Avoid any beauty cream that contains hydroquinone and mercury. Go for ingredients like kojic acid, vitamin C, licorice extract, and alpha arbutin.
  • Area Of Application: Test and check if the cream can be applied on the face or body. Some creams are suitable for the hand and body, while some are only for the face.
  • Results: Some creams promise visible results in just two weeks, while some may take three to four weeks to show any improvement. Pick a product depending on how fast you are expecting results.
  • Ease Of Use: A good skin cream should easily spread on the skin without making it feel greasy and sticky. Check the consistency before you buy it.

Infographic: How To Apply A Lightening Cream On Pigmented Skin

If your skin is unevenly pigmented and has several dark spots, skin lightening creams can help. They reduce the appearance of dark spots if applied the right way. However, incorrect application of the creams may result in skin damage. Check out the infographic below to learn how to apply the cream properly to achieve clearer and brighter skin.

How To Apply Lightening Creams On Pigmented Skin (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The Bottom Line

Exposure to the Sun, breakouts, and hyperpigmentation are some of the common skin concerns. To deal with them, many creams use hydroquinone. It’s a bleaching agent that helps to lighten your skin as well. Sometimes this ingredient may irritate your skin. So, instead, try the best lightening creams for black skin. The products listed in this article help to minimize dark spots, redness, and sun damage while brightening your skin. If you want to reduce hyperpigmentation, try the Advanced Clinicals Dark Spot Therapeutic Cream, and for a lightweight and non-sticky formula, you can go for the Dermalogica Biolumin-C Gel Moisturizer. Try the Intraceuticals Opulence Moisture Brightening Cream if you are looking for a fragrance-free option that suits sensitive skin. These skin lightening products also help to even out the skin tone. However, consider investing in products that are paraben-free and silicone-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I lighten my skin without using hydroquinone?

You can use any of the skin-brightening creams from our list. None of these creams contain hydroquinone.

What is another name for hydroquinone?

1, 4-Benzenediol, Quinol, Benzene-1,4-Diol, p-Diphenol, p-Dihydroxyxylphenol, Hydrochinonium, Hydroquinol.

Can hydroquinone make dark spots worse?

Yes, skin of color contains higher percentage of melanin and may be more sensitive to certain ingredients, like hydroquinone, commonly used in skincare to fade hyperpigmentation.

Can you apply moisturizer over skin brightening creams without hydroquinone?

No. Skin brightening creams are meant to be applied gently to your skin. Most brightening creams have moisturizing and nourishing properties and you will not need to use a moisturizer on top of that.

How does it affect the skin, if you stop using lightening cream without hydroquinone on black skin?

Your dark skin will regain its original complexion if you stop using the lightening cream without hydroquinone.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

The author of this article, Shiboli Chakraborti, is a certified skin care coach. She conducted extensive research and checked many user reviews online to compile this list of the best lightening creams without hydroquinone. She also went through the product websites to understand their formulations before shortlisting them. The listed skin lightening creams may help even out your skin without any damage.

Shiboli Chakraborti

Shiboli ChakrabortiCommerce Editor

Shiboli has a master’s degree in English literature from The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, and is a certified skincare coach with four years of experience. As a commerce editor, she guides her team members on the best practices to create crisp and authentic content. She loves reviewing skin care and hair care products and constantly endeavors to provide...read full bio

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