Top 9 Lightening Creams For Black Skin Without Hydroquinone In 2023

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

By Shiboli ChakrabortiShiboli Chakraborti, Certified Skin Care Coach  • 
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 here.

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 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

Top 9 Lightening Creams Without Hydroquinone

Best Gentle Formula:Advanced Clinicals Dark Spot Therapeutic Cream

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 cream on your face, neck, arms, and legs. This therapeutic cream also contains jojoba oil 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. Here’s a personal review video to help you get a better understanding of the product.

Key Ingredients:

  • Vitamin C
  • Licorice
  • Jojoba oil


  • Gentle
  • Not tested on animals
  • Can be used on body and face


  • Results take time
Why It’s Worth Buying: More than 1,086 rave reviews on Amazon prove why we are so in awe of this product.
Price at the time of publication: $17.99

Best Lightweight:Dermalogica Biolumin-C Gel Moisturizer

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 and minimizes age spots. It 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 make the skin brighter-looking and plump.

  • Lightweight
  • Quick-absorbing
  • Ideal for all skin types
  • Improves skin tone
  • Cruelty-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Color-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Vegan
  • Paraben-free


  • Might feel sticky upon application

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.

Price at the time of publication: $69

Best Fragrance-Free Formula:Intraceuticals Opulence Moisture Brightening Cream


The Intraceuticals Opulence Moisture Brightening Cream protects your skin from environmental aggressors. It helps minimize 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, deliver antioxidants to your skin, and brighten it.

Key Ingredients:

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


  • No artificial fragrance
  • Sulfate-free
  • Vegan


  • Contains phenoxyethanol

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

Price at the time of publication: $65.99

Best Lightweight Formula:Medik8 C-Tetra Cream


This is a vitamin C serum in cream form. The Medika C-Tetra Cream provides your skin with its daily dose of vitamins C and E to prevent damage caused by harmful free radicals. It protects the skin against environmental aggressors like pollution and UV exposure to prevent premature aging, spots, and dullness. This fast-absorbing formula is perfect for those who have uneven skin tone. The 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.

Key Ingredient:

  • 100% Vitamin C


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



Price at the time of publication: $63.74

Best For Sensitive Skin:LANEIGE Radian-C Cream

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, 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. 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.

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



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

Price at the time of publication: $33.6

Best Affordable Option:Divine Derriere Dark Spot Corrector

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. This powerful combination of ingredients eliminates the appearance of acne, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots while offering a relaxing and calming sensation to your skin.

Key Ingredients:

  • Arbutin
  • Kojic acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Lactic acid


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



Price at the time of publication: $21.99

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 cell renewal and improves the overall skin texture. The formula also possesses anti-aging properties and aims to preserve the youthfulness of your skin. With consistent use, your skin looks clearer and even-toned.

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


  • Not suitable for sensitive skin
Why It’s Worth Buying: This product has received 3,077 reviews from customers on Amazon, indicating its popularity and reliability.
Price at the time of publication: $19.99

Best Mild Fragrance:Mesoestetic Energy C Intensive Cream


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 and boosts the moisture level of the skin.

Key Ingredient:

  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)


  • Mild fragrance
  • Lightweight
  • Gets absorbed quickly


  • Greasy
  • Contains silicone
  • Contains PEG

Price at the time of publication: $99.99

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, antioxidants, natural ingredients, and 7% arbutin that progressively improve the appearance of blotchy and discolored skin. Antioxidants protect your skin from potential damage, and vitamins boost collagen production and reduce inflammation.

Key Ingredient:

  • Arbutin
  • Lactic acid
  • Vitamin C


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


  • Contains sodium metabisulfite
Price at the time of publication: $106.5

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 cream that contains hydroquinone and mercury. Go for ingredients like kojic acid, vitamin C, licorice extract, and alpha arbutin.
  • Area Of Application: 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

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

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 the dark spots, redness, and sun damage while brightening your skin. These products also help to even out the skin tone. However, consider investing in products that are paraben-free and silicone-free.

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.

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.

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