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TIPS & TRENDS > EXPERT FAQS > SKINCARE TIPS

Skincare Advice with Dr. Burgess

Dr. Cheryl Burgess

Dr. Burgess is the founder and president of the Center for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery in Washington, DC. She is Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center and George Washington University Hospital, Washington, DC.

Dr. Burgess has shared her vast knowledge of skin of color with BioCosmetic Research Labs to help us create the Black Opal skincare line.

  • More on Dr. Burgess
How quickly will I begin to see my dark spots fade?
Dr. Burgess: Even True Even Tone products fade hyperpigmentation gradually. In clinical tests, results were visible in as little as 2 weeks. Improvement in overall brightness was noticeable on average by 32% in just 28 days and a reduction in the appearance of dark spots averaged 38% in 4 weeks.

How do I use the even true tonecorrect or skintone brightening products?
Dr. Burgess: The products in the Even True even tone family create a 24-hour fading cycle and have been developed to work together synergistically.
  • Always cleanse your skin with either Even True Complexion Brightening or Even True Skin Perfecting Creme Cleanser prior to applying even tone products. If you do not cleanse your skin beforehand, the product will not effectively absorb into the skin.
  • In the morning, apply the ToneCorrect Fade Creme or SkinTone Brightening Creme evenly over face. Follow with the Nutritive Skin Moisturizer SPF 15
  • In the evening, apply the Tri-Complex ToneCorrect Fade Gel or SkinTone Brightening Gel ONLY on the dark spots or areas you wish to fade. This is a spot treatment product and is not meant to be used all over the face.
  • These products should be left on the skin. Do not rinse off. As with all products, discontinue use should serious irritations occur. After applying any fade product, we recommend that you wait at least 5 minutes before applying other skincare or cosmetic products to your skin.
When I use even tone products is there anything specific I need to know?
Dr. Burgess: When hydroquinone is used to treat hyperpigmentation, it should be used with sun protection. Very often a fade product containing hydroquinone is applied at night. Products with a minimum sunscreen protection of Broad Spectrum SPF 15 should be applied every morning to protect the skin from darkening during the lightening process.

Are there any side effects to using even true tonecorrect fade or skintone brightening products?
Dr. Burgess: Because the ToneCorrect Fade Products have hydroquinone, test your skin's sensitivity to it by applying it to a small test area. Wait 24 hours. If you do not experience any side effects, continue to use as directed.
  • If you start to feel a slight burning sensation, it may lessen as you continue to use hydroquinone and your skin builds a tolerance level. If side effects continue, discontinue use.
  • If you experience an extreme burning sensation or skin swelling, stop using the product immediately.


The SkinTone Brightening products are hydroquinone-free and should be sensitive and gentle enough for all skin types. But you should also test your skin’s sensitivity to it by following the above test recommendation for the ToneCorrect Fade products.

Remember, It is essential to use a sunscreen daily to help prevent hyper or hypo pigmentation.

DO NOT use these products if you are allergic to any of its ingredients.
The tonecorrect Fade Gel has changed color. Is there something wrong with the product?
Dr. Burgess: The product is good to use. All products containing Hydroquinone may darken/blacken when exposed to humidity, light or air. The effectiveness of the product is not impaired.

Can I use even tone products nonstop without side effects?
Dr. Burgess: The purpose of fade and brightening products is to even out the skin tone. Using them over a long period of time is not recommended. If you have not received the results you are looking for within four months, I recommend you visit a board certified dermatologist who specializes in ethnic skin.

What causes dark spots?
Dr. Burgess: Acne and eczema are two of the most common dermatologic conditions that result in discoloration of the skin. Skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation) usually occurs at sites of skin inflammation, trauma or irritation. Stimulation of the pigment cells produces excess pigment in the skin that can persist for weeks to months following an irritation.

Can dark spots and dullness return?
Dr. Burgess: Treatment with hydroquinone is not permanent correction for dullness, age spots or dark marks. Exposure to UV light will trigger the return of the abnormal and uneven pigmentation. That is why I recommend that products with Broad Spectrum SPF15, such as the Nutritive Skin Moisturizer, should be used every day to help prevent the recurrence of dark spots.

What is Hydroquinone?
Dr. Burgess: Hydroquinone has been used by dermatologists for more than 40 years to lighten hyperpigmentation. It is found naturally in a wide variety of foods, including, berries, pears, wheat, and coffee making it likely that we ingest far more hydroquinone than we absorb topically from skin creams containing 2% hydroquinone.

How does hydroquinone reduce dark spots and brighten skin?
Dr. Burgess: Excessive amounts of melanin (pigment) production result from exposure to UV radiation (sunlight), heat and other sources of injury to the skin, such as healing from acne. Excessive melanin production may appear as age spots, post-acne dark marks, or general dull appearance. Hydroquinone works by inhibiting tyrosinase, a key enzyme that produces excessive pigmentation.

Why do Black Opal products only have 2% hydroquinone?
Dr. Burgess: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only allows the over-the counter sale of products with up to 2% hydroquinone. Any higher levels must be prescribed by a physician.

Are there any instances where hydroquinone is not recommended?
Dr. Burgess: While studies have not been performed to determine if hydroquinone can pose a risk to a fetus, the use of hydroquinone during pregnancy or while breast feeding is not recommended.

Are there any alternatives to Hydroquinone?
Dr. Burgess: Yes. The SkinTone Brightening Creme and Gel do not contain Hydroquinone. It is formulated with a propriety blend of brightening molecules, skin brightening actives, and natural plant extracts that work together to lighten, brighten and soothe the skin.
When used according to directions, you could see visible reduction of dark spots and improvement in skin brightening in just 4 weeks.

Is hydroquinone safe? What are some instances when it isn't safe to use?
Dr. Burgess: The FDA creates regulatory standards for non-prescription drugs following a three-phase rule making process to determine safely and effectiveness. Even True ToneCorrect Fade products comply with all applicable FDA regulations. Europe and Asia currently allow hydroquinone at 2-5% if prescribed by a physician. The drug is valued worldwide but is regulated to protect against misuse and poor formulations

While studies have not been performed to determine if hydroquinone can pose a risk to a fetus, the use of hydroquinone during pregnancy or while breast feeding is not recommended.

We also do not recommend usage around the eye area nor for use on children.
How does the skin tone true Complex™ in the tonecorrect fade and skintone brightening cremes differ from the bio-affinity or bio-intensity skin Complex™ found in the previous fade products?
Dr. Burgess: Skin Tone True Complex™ is Black Opal’s next generation of Bio-Intensity and Bio Affinity formulations as it combines the active fading ingredients and botanical ingredients that was featured in those products but adds new scientific technology and additional brightening actives for better performance.

Skin Tone True Complex™, is a unique patented delivery system formulated with the DermX ™ Megasphere ™ Delivery System, brightening peptides and natural botanical ingredients which work synergistically with Hydroquinone or the Brightening Molecule to
  • penetrate deep into the skin’s inner layer
  • target the root cause of hyperpigmentation
  • accelerate the rate, depth and volume of the active ingredients effectively fading and lightening unwanted dark spots faster for enhanced radiance and luminosity.