Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure HERE.
Shannon Walter

Sketchy Ingredient: Hydroquinone

Naturally Improve Your Wellness
On the Ingredient Watch List


og:image Ok so to be honest, I had to do some serious research on this one. In nature, bombardier beetles use hydroquinone as a defence mechanism. It mixes with hydrogen peroxide to create a boiling hot spray to protect the beetle. Gross- fascinating (sorry, I have a 3 year old son who loves bugs). Hydroquinone is a type of phenol, a substance similar to alcohol but way more acidic. Due to its high acidity, it was used to develope old black and white photos. More recently, companies add this chemical to skin pigment lighteners. Think dark spot bleachers for your skin. You can also find hydroquinone in many facial cleansers, hair products, and nail polishes.

Other Names:


what is hydroquinoneHealth Concerns

In the UK, Hydroquinone is banned, but it’s still allowed here in the States. The FDA considers it a potential cancer causing substance.

Skin Cancer

The reason hydroquinone is used as a skin lightener is its ability to decrease the amount of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin color and protects it from harmful UV rays. With less melanin, your skin becomes more sensitive and increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

Skin Toxicity

We often forget that our skin is an organ. It’s the largest organ in the body! In Britain, hydroquinone use has been linked to a condition called ochronosis. Ochronosis is characterized by a blueish-gray discoloration and thickened skin.

Respiratory Irritation

A study of workers exposed to hydroquinone showed that it can cause irritation to the delicate tissues of the nose, throat, and lungs. They also had more instances of chronic coughing and decreased lung capacity than those not exposed.

Who’s being targeted?

While everyone is susceptible to conditions linked to hydroquinone exposure, women are at the most risk. Products containing this toxic chemical are marketed towards women. Ladies, we need to be careful what we use to beautify ourselves. Looking pretty is always nice but feeling pretty is better.

Safe Alternative

There are lots of companies selling natural and healthy beauty products. I can’t vouch for most of them, but I can give you my two cents.

All Natural

Most days, I go sans makeup and nail polish. There are reasons for this- mostly I just don’t like fussing with it. I enjoy my natural glowing skin. Another reason is I don’t want my son to think that women only look pretty and presentable when they are all painted and dolled up. Now, that’s not to say I’m against makeup and manicures. I still indulge on special days. I’m just saying, be happy with you.

Healthy Alternatives

For face cleansers, moisturizers, and basically everything, you can find healthy, natural alternatives. Those of us who actually have spare time and like to DIY things, you can find a plethora of beauty recipes on pinterest. The rest of us will settle for buying premade, store bought convenience. My favorite store for natural shampoos, cleansers, face lotions, and makeup is this company. They send you freshly made products right to your door. I don’t even have to get out of my pajamas! If you’d like to go to a physical store and walk the aisles, I’d suggest finding your local health food store.

Do you have a go to natural beauty product?

Shannon Walter

About Shannon Walter -

Wife, Mommy, and Writer are three of the hats Shannon wears on a daily basis. Natural and holistic wellness is her passion. Diving into medical studies, reading long-winded books, and refitting them into information that is valuable to everyday life.

Traditional Mom, Modern World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. More...

Subscribe & Get the Busy Mom's Guide to Clean Eating

* indicates required

View previous campaigns.