Triluma, a combo of hydroquinone, Retin-A and a steroid was one of the first anti-aging tools I tried. I used it successfully to reduce my dark circles and was planning to keep using it, but my dermatologist Dr Marmur said that I needed to take a “Triluma Holiday”. Apparently, it cannot be used for more than three months at a time. Then the skin needs to take a rest for three months before using it again. But when I tried to refill my prescription, the product was “on back order” at every pharmacy in NYC. I began to hear from people who also reported they could not get Triluma. What happened?
There was no FDA recall and no announcement from Galderma, the manufacturer of Triluma. I kept digging and found that Galderma itself announced a recall of all its Triluma products made by a sub-contractor, Hill Dermaceuticals. Apparently, Hill reported to Galderma that one of the critical ingredients ( eg the steroid, the hydroquinone or the retin A) did not meet ” labeling standards of concentration and/or potency” ( my quote marks, not theirs). This means that one of these powerful substances was either too weak or too strong. Not good, especially at $300/tube.
Well, recalls are not uncommon, but this did not explain why Triluma quietly dispappeared from drug store shelves. Usually after a recall, a manufacturer does a mea culpa and then reissues a new effective batch with great fanfare. Not this time. No more Triluma, no public explanation and no product to replace it.
So what are skin lightening options to replace Triluma? Some pharmacies are quietly compounding special order mixtures of the hydroquinone, retin A and steroid. Obagi Nu-derm has a prescription only combination of 4% of hydroquinone and vitamin C which I am going to try this winter. Elure is a new product made from mushrooms that blocks melanin production like hydroquinone, but is not non-irritating. Most experts now believe that the best skin lightening products have a combination of ingedients that both break down existing melanin as well as prevent new melanin formation. There are many options and I’d love to hear about products that worked ( or didn’t) for you.