HQplus Lightening Cream SPF 20
15 gram for $34
Last Updated:01.20.2011
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview
This product contains a powerhouse skin-lightening combination of hydroquinone and an AHA. Unfortunately, the sunscreen in the formula falls short because the active sunscreen ingredients don’t provide enough UVA protection.

To ensure adequate UVA protection, you need a product that contains one or more of the following active ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, Mexoryl SX (ecamsule), or Tinosorb. That’s not what you’re getting here, and it’s why this unique skin-lightening product isn’t the best option.

Even if this product did contain UVA-protecting ingredients, it’s not a good idea to mix the skin-lightening products with sunscreen. That’s because you don’t need to apply skin-lightening products liberally to get great results, but you do need to apply sunscreen liberally to get the protection your skin needs. If you apply this product liberally, then it’ll be gone within a week. So, what are the odds that you’ll apply it liberally?.

By the way, this product contains 4% hydroquinone, an amount that is not approved for over-the-counter sale in the United States, but is permitted in Canada (Source: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/index-eng.php).
Contains 4% hydroquinone in a unique base of hydroxy acids (5% glycolic acid and 5% gluconolactone) to provide gentle exfoliation. Ideal for dark hyperpigmentation and all skin types.
Active: Hydroquinone (4%), Padimate O (8%), Oxybenzone (4%), Octocrylene (4%), Other: Water, Glyceryl Stearate, Gluconolactone, Glycerin, Glycolic Acid, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Petrolatum, Steareh-21, Triethanolamine, Glyceryl Stearate, Peg-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, Steareth-2, Cetyl Alcohol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Sodium Metabisulfite, Fragrance, Ascorbic Acid, Disodium Edta, Xanthan Gum, Methylparaben, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tea-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, Lecithin, Peg-40 Castor Oil, Propylparaben
Brand Overview

NeoStrata Canada At-a-Glance

Strengths: Effective AHA products with glycolic acid and, in some instances, the polyhydroxy acid gluconolactone; good, but pricey self-tanner; some well-formulated moisturizers and vitamin C serums.

Weaknesses: Irritating anti-acne products; the AHA with sunscreen products do not provide sufficient UVA protection, leaving your skin vulnerable to the sun's aging rays; most of the skin-lightening products contain an irritating amount of alcohol; jar packaging; some of the products contain such large amounts of anti-aging ingredients that they tip the scales toward irritation rather than toward youthful benefits.

NeoStrata Canada is not associated in any way with the NeoStrata brand sold in the United States, and the product selections are completely different. We asked NeoStrata Canada's owner, Canderma Pharma, Inc., why many of the products are completely different, but no one would tell us, so it remains a mystery.

What NeoStrata Canada and the U.S.-sold NeoStrata products do have in common is an abundance of well-formulated AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) exfoliants at effective concentrations and at the correct pH levels. The prices are all over the place, but for the most part you can be assured that any AHA product you purchase from NeoStrata Canada will exfoliate your skin and provide additional benefits such as improved skin texture and tone.

Exfoliants are both lines' key selling point, but they're not perfect. For example, the AHA products with sunscreen do not provide enough critical UVA protection (meaning they lack the UVA-protecting active ingredients of avobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, Tinsorb, ecamsule, or Mexoryl SX). That lack is a disappointment for those who were hoping that an AHA plus sunscreen would be a convenience.

NeoStrata Canada has several other intriguing products that include impressive ingredients such as peptides, retinol, vitamin C, and the company's patented AHA alternative, the polyhydroxy acid known as gluconolactone. Despite including some great ingredients, the formulas suffer from the inclusion of irritants (alcohol is a big one) and/or packaging that won't keep the beneficial ingredients stable during use.

The serums with vitamin C are worth a look, if you're curious about vitamin C. However, you'd do better looking for vitamin C in a product that also treats your skin to a variety of beneficial ingredients because one antioxidant is never enough; your skin requires much more (just like your diet) to be healthy so it can look and act younger.

Because NeoStrata Canada's products are not associated with the NeoStrata brand sold in the United States, our team called NeoStrata Canada's customer service to get additional consumer information about their products. Unfortunately, NeoStrata Canada's customer service phone number was perpetually set to voicemail, and our numerous messages (all left as regular customers, not as investigators) were never returned. After two weeks, the one email reply we did get in response to a question concerning active ingredients said simply that they couldn't give us any information. Their solution was to tell us that we would have to locate the product on store shelves to answer our own question. Either our question was too probing or NeoStrata Canada's strength is not customer service.

For more information about NeoStrata Canada, call (800) 636-3664 or visit www.neostrata.ca.

Note: All prices are in Canadian currency.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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I used this product for 4 months as part of my nightly routine because Paula said the SPF rating was not the proper UVA for daytime. I used a light coating over my face and neck, not just on the dark spots. It was the only product that worked that did not contain alcohol. It was really fantastic. Then people got too concerned about the active ingredient and NeoStrat quit making it and came out with some other product that does nothing.

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