Resorcinol in Skin Care

Resorcinol in Skin Care

Resorcinol is a skin lightening ingredient used for acne, sun spots and other dark spots on the skin, and hyperpigmentation disorders such as melasma.

Resorcinol lightens skin by preventing the production of melanin. It is a tyrosinase inhibitor.


Common uses

Resorcinol is most commonly used to treat conditions like:

You can find a selection of resorcinol and related products here!

To find the best matches for your regimen, make sure to shop based on your Baumann Skin Type.

Is resorcinol safe?

Is it safe?

Resorcinol is used in a number of skin lightening and acne products. It has been safely used by dermatologists for many years for in office peels.

It is not advised to be used during pregnancy.

There is a chance of having a skin allergy to this ingredient which can result in redness or a rash.

Irritation can occur with strong concentrations of resorcinol. This is why it is most commonly used in chemical peels by dermatologists rather than in at home products.

Irritation and allergic reactions can cause inflammation that leads to hyperpigmentation- which means- when you use resorcinol to treat melasma and another forms of pigmentation, you can worsen melasma if used incorrectly.


Some concerns associated with regular use of resorcinol are:

  • Skin irritation with resulting hyperpigmentation
  • Possible allergic reaction
  • The EWG rates resorcinol as a 7. (1 is low danger while 10 is high danger on the EWC scale).
  • Its use in cosmetics is restricted in Japan and Canada.
resorcinol during pregnancy

Is resorcinol safe to use during pregnancy?

No, it shouldn't be used during pregnancy.

It has been shown to be found in urine when used topically and effects on the unborn fetus are not known.

There are other ways to treat skin conditions like melasma during pregnancy.

Can it be used orally?

Resorcinol should not be used orally for skin care uses. In fact, one death in Turkey was reported. (21)


If you have an allergy to resorcinol, you might expect

  • slight rash
  • redness
  • irritation on the applied area.

If used in too great a quantity or frequency, resorcinol products may cause irritation on applied areas.

Applying products containing this ingredient outside of one’s target dark spots may result in a slight “halo” effect around dark spots.

Overuse might result in "Post Inflammatory Pigmentary Alteration” (PIPA), a darkening of the skin following prolonged inflammation.

It is important to be sure the products are being applied in the correct amounts and at the right intervals.

benefits of resorcinol


Resorcinol is a versatile product with a number of benefits. The most common benefits associated with its use are:


Resorcinol is good for anti-aging regimens because it has notable antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-glycation properties.

Antioxidants bind free radicals that can cause genetic damage to cells. Anti-inflammatories reduce the effects of oxidative stress from the sun and pollutants like dirt. Anti-glycation properties keep your skin safe from damage caused by sugars on the skin


Resorcinol directly eliminates acne-causing bacteria and has anti-inflammatory properties that make it useful as an acne treatment.

This ingredient is commonly used in peels by dermatologists, but some commercial products are available as well.

Skin lightening

Yes, Resorcinol does lighten your skin, however the effect is slow and subtle.

It does not “bleach” skin in any quick or extreme manner, but with time can improve dark spots.

This ingredient does not pose the risk of permanently lightening darker skin tones.

It is used to lighten dark spots to match surrounding lighter pigmented skin.

If you have melanated skin and are concerned about skin bleaching, check out how to get rid of dark spots on darker skin tones.


Is it like Retinol?

Resorcinol is in a different chemical compound family than retinol but they do share some similarities, namely:

Retinoids are often combined with this ingredient in chemical peels.
Both ingredients can be used together in a skin care routine, depending on your Baumann Skin Type and regimen needs.

They can be combined in the same skin care products or used as separate products in different steps of the skin care routine.

resorcinol vs retinol

Vs Hexylresorcinol.

Hexylresorcinol is a derivative of resorcinol.

Resorcinol is stronger and more likely to cause skin irritation.

Another derivative similar to both of these compounds is phenylethyl resorcinol.

Resorcinol Products

There are a variety of products on the skin care market which include phenylethyl resorcinol and hexylresorcinol, but resorcinol is found primarily in chemical peels performed in medical offices. That being said, there are some great commercially available resorcinol products as well. Here are a few of our favorites.

To find the best skin care products for your skin type- make sure you shop by your Baumann Skin Type.

Level up your skin care knowledge with medical advice from dermatologists

What does resorcinol do to your skin?

Resorcinol is a potent tyrosinase inhibitor, and can cause an increase in exfoliation as well. This ingredient is good for treating sun damage. This ingredient, while safe, can cause irritation on sensitive skin types if overused.

Does resorcinol cause cancer?

People might have this concern because resorcinol is somewhat similar in function to hydroquinone. That being said, there is no research to support resorcinol as a carcinogenic ingredient.

Best References on Resorcinol

1. Camera E, Ludovici M, Tortorella S, et al. Use of lipidomics to investigate sebum dysfunction in juvenile acne. J Lipid Res. 2016;57(6):1051-1058.

2. Karam pg. 50% resorcinol peel. int j dermatol. 1993;32(8):569-74.

3. Basketter da, Sanders d, Jowsey ir. the skin sensitization potential of resorcinol: experience with the local lymph node assay. contact dermatitis. 2007;56(4):196-200.

4. Shimizu K, Kondo R, Sakai K. inhibition of tyrosinase by flavonoids, stilbenes and related 4-substituted resorcinols: structure-activity investigations. planta med. 2000;66(1):11-5.

5. Tasaka K, Kamei C, Nakano S, Takeuchi Y, Yamato M. effects of certain resorcinol derivatives on the tyrosinase activity and the growth of melanoma cells. methods find exp clin pharmacol. 1998;20(2):99-109.

6. Wolf G. a history of vitamin a and retinoids. Faseb J.;10(9):1102-7.

7. Machlin LJ. beyond deficiency. new views on the function and health effects of vitamins. introduction. ann n y acad sci. 1992;669:1-6.

8. Kligman am. the growing importance of topical retinoids in clinical dermatology: a retrospective and prospective analysis. j am acad dermatol. 1998;39(2 pt 3):s2-7.

9. Kligman l, Kligman am. photoaging—retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, and antioxidants. in dermatopharmacology of topical preparations. gabard b, elsner p, surber c, treffel p, eds. new york, ny: springer, 2000, p. 383.

10. Kligman am, Grove gl, Hirose r, Leyden jj. topical tretinoin for photoaged skin. j am acad dermatol. 1986;15(4 pt 2):836-59.

11. Dermatology news podcast. looking back on retinoid discovery and development with dr. james leyden. october 15, 2020. https://www.mdedge.com/podcasts/dermatology-weekly/looking-back-retinoid-discovery-and-development-dr-james-leyden?sso=true. accessed april 27, 2021.

12. Perkins AC, Maglione J, Hillebrand GG, Miyamoto K, Kimball AB. Acne vulgaris in women: prevalence across the life span. J Womens Health 2002. 2012;21(2):223-230. doi:10.1089/jwh.2010.2722

13. Poli F, Dreno B, Verschoore M. An epidemiological study of acne in female adults: results of a survey conducted in France. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol JEADV. 2001;15(6):541-545. doi:10.1046/j.1468-3083.2001.00357.x

14. Marron SE, Miranda-Sivelo A, Tomas-Aragones L, et al. Body dysmorphic disorder in patients with acne: a multicentre study. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol JEADV. 2020;34(2):370-376. doi:10.1111/jdv.15954

15. Harris HH, Downing DT, Stewart ME, Strauss JS. Sustainable rates of sebum secretion in acne patients and matched normal control subjects. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1983;8(2):200-203. doi:10.1016/s0190-9622(83)70023-x

16. Clayton RW, Göbel K, Niessen CM, Paus R, Steensel MAM, Lim X. Homeostasis of the sebaceous gland and mechanisms of acne pathogenesis. Br J Dermatol. 2019;181(4):677-690. doi:10.1111/bjd.17981

17. Gollnick H. Current Concepts of the Pathogenesis of Acne: Implications for Drug Treatment. Drugs. 2003;63(15):1579-1596. doi:10.2165/00003495-200363150-00005

18. Hiasa, M., Kurokawa, M., Ohta, K., Esumi, T., Akita, H., Niki, K., ... & Kuzuhara, T. (2013). Identification and purification of resorcinol, an antioxidant specific to Awa-ban (pickled and anaerobically fermented) tea. Food research international, 54(1), 72-80.

19.Mosaoa, R. M., Yaghmoor, S. S., & Moselhy, S. S. (2022). Oxygen scavenging, anti-inflammatory, and antiglycation activity of pomegranate flavonoids (Punica granum) against streptozotocin toxicity induced diabetic nephropathy in rats. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 1-7.

20. Sato, K., Morita, M., Ichikawa, C., Takahashi, H., & Toriyama, M. (2008). Depigmenting mechanisms of all-trans retinoic acid and retinol on B16 melanoma cells. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry, 72(10), 2589-2597

21.Bulut, M., Turkmen, N., Fedakar, R., & Aydin, S. A. (2006). A case report of fatal oral ingestion of resorcinol. Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, 73(7), 1049-1051.

Comments 0

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

    1 out of ...