Triluma– What happened?

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.

7 thoughts on “Triluma– What happened?

  1. I’ve been using lactic acid on my brown spots and having laser treatments at the derms office. It’s only been a few months and it took more then a few decades for me to accumulate the spots so I’m not expecting immediate results. From my research that was the route I decided to go.

    To be honest with you I’d be afraid to use hydroquinone and a steriod on my face. This from someone who is whacking everything from Tazorac to Juvederm to Botox on her face but even I draw the line at those 2 ingredients. Don’t despair, try lactic acid.


      • I did a Google search of Trimula and found a suggestion from a nurse practitioner at a derms office who said to have you dr. write a perscription for the ingredients and take it to a compounding pharmacy. Such a simple solution.

  2. I have been using Elure for about 6 weeks. Results are noticeable. In my experience, more effective than hydroquinone and Retin-A. Will definitely purchase again.

  3. Hi Deb, Do you know anything about HQRA (7% hydroquinone with other ingredients like retinoic acid, hydrocortisone, and kojic acid? I want to try it but it’s really expensive. My derm sells it for $140 but doesn’t give samples. I hate to spend that much for something that may not work.

  4. I’ve been using HQRA for some time now, but have always gotten the best results from Tri-Luma. I am very upset that it isn’t available anymore. If anyone knows what is closely related to Tri-Luma that I could try, I would love to know what it is.

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