What Is It?

Hydroquinone is the common name for the ingredient 1,4-dihydroxybenzene, and may be used safely in a variety of cosmetics.

Why Is It Used?

Hydroquinone is used in cosmetics as an antioxidant, fragrance ingredient and oxidizing agent in hair dyes.  Hydroquinone may also be used as a stabilizer that inhibits the polymerization of the adhesive in artificial nails.

Safety Information

CIR Safety Reviews

Hydroquinone’s safety has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel on four separate occasions since 1986. CIR concluded that hydroquinone is safe at concentrations of ≤ 1% in cosmetic formulations designed for discontinuous, brief use followed by rinsing from the skin and hair. In addition, hydroquinone is safe for use as a polymerization inhibitor in nail adhesives and in artificial nail coatings that are cured by LED light. However, hydroquinone is not safe for use in other leave-on cosmetic products.

European Union (EU)

Hydroquinone is listed in Annex III, entry 14 which allows the use of hydroquinone in artificial nail systems with a maximum concentration of 0.02% (200 ppm) after mixing for use, by professionals only. This is the only approved cosmetic use in the EU.


U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR)

EU Cosmetics Inventory