Hydroquinone, also known as benzene-1, 4-diol, is an aromatic organic compound which is a type of phenol, having the chemical formula C6H4 (OH) 2. Its chemical structure has two hydroxyl groups bonded to a benzene ring in a para position. Hydroquinone is commonly used as a biomarker for benzene exposure. The presence of hydroquinone in normal individuals stems mainly from direct dietary ingestion, catabolism of tyrosine and other substrates by gut bacteria, ingestion of arbutin-containing foods, cigarette smoking, and the use of some over-the-counter medicines.
Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening agent. It bleaches the skin, which can be helpful when treating different forms of hyperpigmentation.
Historically, there’s been some back-and-forth on the safety of hydroquinone. In 1982, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognized the ingredient as safe and effective.
Hydroquinone is a Melanin Synthesis Inhibitor. The mechanism of action of hydroquinone is as a Melanin Synthesis Inhibitor. The physiologic effect of hydroquinone is by means of DE pigmenting Activity.
Several years later, concerns about safety prompted retailers to pull hydroquinone from the market. The FDA went on to discover that many of the products in question contained contaminants like mercury. They established that these contaminants were behind reports of adverse effects.
Since then, the FDA has confirmed that hydroquinone can be safely sold over the counter (OTC) in 2 percent concentrations.
Read on to learn more about how it works, who might benefit from use, products to try, and more.
Applications of Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone’s most common use is its ability to act as a reducing agent that is water soluble. Hydroquinone is used in photographic film and paper where it acts as a reducing agent, reducing silver halides to elemental silver. Since it is known for its reducing ability, Hydroquinone is also polymerization inhibitor for Acrylic acid, Methyl Methacrylate, Cyanoacrylate, and other monomers that are commonly used in adhesives, glue, and other types of bonding applications.
Hydroquinone is also commonly used in cosmetic applications, particularly in skin whitening compositions in typical concentrations of 2-4%. Hydroquinone’s other uses include chemical synthesis, agrochemical manufacturing, dye manufacturing, and as an anti-oxidant due to its anti-oxidation properties.