Hydroquinone is best known for its ability to lighten dark skin spots, but it is also used for other medical and cosmetic applications. Hydroquinone.com offers information about this popular skin care ingredient, including its effectiveness and safety.


What is Hydroquinone?

It might surprise you to know that hydroquinone is an antioxidant polyphenol—a naturally occurring chemical compound found in a wide variety of plants we use for foods and food products, like wheat, berries, tea, and coffee.1 Occurring naturally in some insects as well (like millipedes), it is generally part of a defensive chemical secretion.2 In addition to hydroquinone’s medical and cosmetic uses, it is used in many industrial applications, like photography, manufacturing, and agricultural products as a reducing agent, antioxidant, and polymerization inhibitor.3


  1. Ebanks, Jody P., Wickett, R. Randall and Boissy, Raymond E. Mechanisms Regulating Skin Pigmentation: The Rise and Fall of Complexion Coloration. MDPI Publishing: International Journal of Molecular Sciences. [Online] September 15, 2009. http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/9/4066/pdf. DOI 10.3390/ijms10094066.
  2. S. Auerbach, Paul. Wilderness Medicine. Philadelphia, PA : Mosby, Inc., an affiliate of Elsevier Inc., 2007. ISBN: 978-0-323-03228-5.
  3. United Nations Environment Programme World Health Organization. Hydroquinone: Health and Safety Guide No. 101. IPCS International Programme on Chemical Safety. [Online] 1996. http://www.inchem.org/documents/hsg/hsg/hsg101.htm#SectionNumber:2.5.
Reducing agents donate electrons
to oxidant molecules. In a broad sense,
this is similar to the antioxidant mechanism
of neutralizing unstable free radicals.
According to the Argonne National Laboratory’s
NEWTON educational program, polymerization inhibitors
bind with unstable molecules in many chemical
products to prevent detrimental chain reactions.
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