Kligman’s Formula

Kligman’s Formula is a prescription only formulation that consists of 5% hydroquinone, 0.1% tretinoin, and 0.1% dexamethasone in hydrophilic ointment. Developed by Dr Albert Kligman, the combination is used to treat conditions involving hyperpigmentation – Melasma, age spots and scars.

The ingredients in Kligman’s formula are designed to work together. The hydroquinone helps to stop the formation of pigmentation by inhibiting tryosinase, the enzyme responsible for the production of melanin. Tretinoin helps to stimulate the production of healthy, new skin cells and it may also assist with the absorption of hydroquinone. Dexamethasone is a mild steroid, which is incorporated to help minimize skin irritation that may arise from the hydroquinone and tretinoin in Kligman’s formula.
Kligman’s formula must be prescribed by a physician and can be compounded by a specialist pharmacy. Your physician will be able to determine if the combination is appropriate for your condition.

If you would rather use a product that doesn’t require a prescription, you may wish to consider a product formulated with 4% hydroquinone as found in Lustra, Lustra AF, Neostrata HQ Plus Cream, Neostrata HQ Gel or Glyquin XM. All these products contain the added benefit of glycolic acid, which can assist with the removal of existing pigmentation and enhance the absorption of hydroquinone. Used as directed, they may make a suitable alternative to Kligman’s formula.

Want to keep up to date on the latest in skin care and anti aging information? Visit this skincare blog updated 3 times a week. Sign up for our weekly newsletter with exclusive info and discounts on new products. Sign Up Here

Gloria said,

August 11, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

Hi..I would love topurchase one of your producrs after reading about them but it is just too costly. Do you have any coupons to offer me at theis time?

Sharmani said,

August 11, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

For Gloria: A premium service offering the best, most effective skin products on the market can indeed be costly! Why not sign up to receive our newsletter? It comes via email at least once a month and gives promotion codes for a different product each time. Just enter your details on the newsletter signup page.

shibe said,

October 16, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

Where can I purchase kligman formula?I’m in south Africa.pretoria

Sharmani said,

December 10, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

To Shibe,
As Kligman’s Formula is prescription only, it would be best to consult your doctor.

sarika pawse said,

March 13, 2014 @ 6:07 am


Because I am use for Kligman’n Formula , dealy use my skin is very glow & Charm , but stop the cream after 1 week , skin is very black .

I requested my meager problem my skin , I have not my skin problem pls your sagest idea. my SKIN PROBLEM

Sharmani said,

March 14, 2014 @ 10:57 am

For Sarika,
Thanks for your question. Kligman’s Formula is a prescription-only treatment that must be recommended by your dermatologist. If you have been using it long-term and wish to consider other non-prescription skin lightening alternatives, your dermatologist would be in the best position to suggest which products may work for you based on previous experience with your skin’s needs.
Best, Sharmani

joann said,

June 18, 2014 @ 11:17 am

can i use that cream even i am breastfeeding?

Sharmani said,

June 24, 2014 @ 12:13 pm

For Joann,
Thank you for your question. Hydroquinone products should not be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Best, Sharmani

dayanara said,

August 8, 2014 @ 2:33 pm

i am also using kligman’s cream // i have black spots on my legs // my dermatologist’s said that i need to use this twice a day //

dayanara said,

August 8, 2014 @ 2:35 pm

i want to see the effect right away // do you have any other suggestions?

Sharmani said,

September 3, 2014 @ 10:05 am

For Dayanara:
Skin lightening is a long-term battle where patience is certainly a virtue! As you are under a dermatologist’s care and are using prescription-only Kligman’s Formula, it would be best to consult your healthcare provider for ways to expedite the process.
Best, Sharmani

jimena said,

October 2, 2014 @ 9:39 pm

Where can I buy this cream

Sharmani said,

October 6, 2014 @ 9:29 am

For Jimena:
Kligman’s Formula is a prescription only product and can be recommended only by your physician or dermatologist. If you would like a non-prescription product for hyperpigmentation, you may want to consider Lustra AF with 4% hydroquinone and retinol. You can read more about hydroquinone here.
Best, Sharmani

joann said,

October 31, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

how long should it be use?i use that 4month till now..is it okey?or should I need to stop it .

Sharmani said,

November 3, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

For Joann,
As Kligman’s Formula is by prescription only, please consult your doctor or dermatologist to determine if use should be continued.
Best, Sharmani

Megan Beruan said,

January 14, 2015 @ 8:16 am

Is this available in philippines

Sharmani said,

January 15, 2015 @ 11:34 am

For Megan,
As Kligman’s Formula is prescription-only, it would be best to consult your doctor or dermatologist for availability and suitability in treating your condition.
Best, Sharmani

rosemary said,

June 1, 2015 @ 5:38 am

I always use e 3%face serum from dr klingsman.but I can find the product again,pls help me I really need 1,thanks

Sharmani said,

June 1, 2015 @ 9:38 am

For Rosemary,
Thanks for your question. Your best source for Dr. Kligman’s product would be your dermatologist as it is prescription-only.
Best, Sharmani

cleo said,

July 2, 2015 @ 6:45 am

ive been using kligmans cream 2weeks 3 days and my spots are becoming worse,what could be the cause?i use it once a day during bedtime and always putting on sunscreen as the derma has prescribed.

Sharmani said,

July 8, 2015 @ 11:10 am

For Cleo,
We would suggest discontinuing use of the Kligman’s Cream and consulting your dermatologist to determine if your reaction is a normal part of treatment.
Best, Sharmani

kay said,

October 8, 2015 @ 9:14 pm

I have been using the Kligman’s Cream for sun-spot for a month , every third night in the first two weeks, every second night in the following two weeks, and I am applying a pea size of the cream every night after now.I didn not put anyother thing on top of the cream, and I started to have flakiness one week after using the cream. Now I am using a bit of moisturizer to reduce the dryness. Is that suitable? Having the flakiness on skin everyday is very annoying…

Sharmani said,

October 9, 2015 @ 11:30 am

For Kay,
The active ingredients in Kligman’s Cream (hydroquinone, tretinoin) may cause some dryness and have the potential for skin irritation until the skin adapts. We would suggest continuing with a moisturizer over top or even going back to applying Kligman’s every second night until your skin calms down. If the dryness continues after making these changes, you may wish to consult your dermatologist.
Best, Sharmani

Mod said,

October 15, 2015 @ 10:40 am

I used Kligmans cream for a month and my skin was fine but the cream color changed from cream to brown. I returned the product to the pharmacist where I bought it and was given another cream. After a week the color changed again. What could be the reason as this was put at cool place as per instruction.

Sharmani said,

October 16, 2015 @ 12:06 pm

For Mod,
Thank you for your question. It is difficult for us to comment on a custom-compounded formulation. We would suggest that you contact the pharmacy where your product was purchased regarding what may be causing the change in color.
Best, Sharmani

One said,

January 2, 2016 @ 1:56 pm

I have used Kligmans cream for less than a month now and i have seen blemishes on my face vanish!! After trying several products finally kligman’s has worked for me.

shashi said,

February 10, 2016 @ 5:07 am


i have spots of hyper pigmentation, / melasma . i was told in India there is no treatment fot it. i now witness several spots appearing on my face and is bothering me. which product should i use? is it shipped to india?

shashi said,

February 10, 2016 @ 5:11 am


i also have discoloration on my lips and black spots on lower lips, i once got it removed and now has reappeared, i was told my one of the doctor it is a serious reaction occurred due to medicines long ago… please suggest, what can be done? my lips remain dry all the time.. and i keep applying balm..

Sharmani said,

February 15, 2016 @ 12:35 pm

For Shashi,
Thanks for your blog questions. Darker, pigmented lips can be a common problem for those with darker skin. There are a few things that may help improve the situation, such as avoiding coffee, keeping your lips hydrated and protecting them from the sun with a lip product that contains an effective sunscreen ingredient. Because the skin on the lips is some of the thinnest on the body, we do not recommend using any skin lightening creams or chemical exfoliants. Using a very soft toothbrush to gently exfoliate your lips will remove dry, dead skin cells but may not necessarily be effective for pigmentation. Although a quick fix would be ideal, the bottom line is that pigmented lips may be one genetic characteristic that we just have to live with. Luckily, lip concealers abound that can even out the color before applying a moisturizing lip balm or lipstick for a consistent color.
Best, Sharmani

Sharmani said,

February 15, 2016 @ 12:48 pm

Also for Shashi,
Hyperpigmentation on the face is a struggle, to which anyone who has dealt with it will attest. Treating and preventing are the keys to success. Using a skin lightening product such as hydroquinone, a sunscreen to prevent further darkening, an exfoliant to remove existing pigmentation, and a retinoid to reverse damage can greatly improve the situation. More information can be found here on our blog. We regret that we currently do not ship to India.
Best, Sharmani

Fatemeh said,

March 17, 2016 @ 6:29 am

Hi. I just want to know what in what temperature should the cream stored. Is room temperature ok or it should be kept in the fridge?

Sharmani said,

March 20, 2016 @ 12:40 pm

For Fatemeh,
Thanks for your question. Packaging and storage go a long way in preserving the effectiveness and freshness of skin care products and treatments. Although most would do well to be stored in a dark, cool place (not on the bathroom counter where most of them end up!), you may want to consult your dermatologist or the supplier of your Kligman’s Formula in the event it needs more specific storage care.
Best, Sharmani

nadya said,

April 20, 2016 @ 11:44 pm

Hi. My first 2weeks of using kligmans cream is good but as time goes by i noticed that my pimples became manier also the parts that i didnt have pimples, now it has. What could you suggest for me? Is this the side effect or it doesnt fit for my face? Thnks

Sharmani said,

April 21, 2016 @ 10:20 am

For Nadya,
As Kligman’s Formula is a prescription-only cream that would have been recommended by your dermatologist, we would suggest a follow-up visit as you have concerns about an increase in acne. An in-person consultation would be best to determine if the blemishes are a reaction to the cream.
Best, Sharmani

Kunal said,

September 7, 2016 @ 6:21 am

Hey i m in australia..how i can buy this 3% kligmans

Sharmani said,

September 7, 2016 @ 10:21 am

For Kunal,
As Kligman’s Formula is a prescription only treatment, we suggest you contact your dermatologist to determine if it is suitable.
Best, Sharmani

Julian said,

February 6, 2017 @ 7:27 pm

Hello am 40 I just need a good skin regimen as my skin has started to look age and my dermatologist think it’s ok please for advice so I can have facts to tell her

Sharmani said,

February 9, 2017 @ 2:50 pm

For Julian:
You’re not alone when you say that your skin has just started to show its age, now that you’ve hit your 40’s! For specific skin concerns in your 40’s, take a look at our blog here for some ideas about addressing most concerns at any age. A basic skin routine for any age should include a gentle cleanser, a daily broad spectrum sunscreen, a moisturizer (if needed), an antioxidant serum and/or a retinoid used at night.
Since you’ve asked your question in relation to Kligman’s Formula, it is true that some of us exhibit signs of aging via dark spots and hyperpigmentation due to UV exposure and/or genetic predisposition. If you are considering this prescription-only treatment, your dermatologist would be the best person to determine its suitability for your skin.
Best, Sharmani

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment