While it may be the most famous ingredient for lightening dark spot pigmentation, it is banned or restricted in several countries because of its harmful side effects. Countries like Japan, and South Africa have completely banned the use of hydroquinone while in the European Union, Australia, the UK, Canada, and the U.S, it is restricted.
In the UK, you can use hydroquinone products if it is has been prescribed to you by a doctor. When hydroquinone is prescribed using it every day, it is not recommended because of the concentration levels. The European Union has banned hydroquinone products that contain concentrations higher than 1%.
In 2019, Health Canada announced that stores can only sell hydroquinone products with concentrations of 2% or less. You can also get hydroquinone products prescribed to you by a doctor. Similarly, in 2020 the U.S banned the sale of hydroquinone products over the counter. This ban was put in place because of the CARES ACT legislation. All hydroquinone products must be approved by the U.S Food & Drug Association. Nevertheless, in the U.S, doctors can still prescribe hydroquinone.