What Is Resorcinol?

Resorcinol is an ingredient used to help treat conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. It works by exfoliating the skin, removing scaly or hard skin.

Resorcinol is most often found in acne treatment products such as spot treatments usually in combination with sulfur. Resorcinol by itself is no longer widely used.

Similar to many acne treatments and other exfoliating ingredients it is important to be careful when using them with drying or other exfoliating ingredients. Ingredients like resorcinol can irritate or sensitize the skin, making it more susceptible to dryness or peeling.


the good: Helps to reduce the appearance of acne and may help to reduce the symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, and seborrheic dermatitis.

the not so good: Resorcinol is not widely used by itself it is sometimes used in acne treatments alongside sulfur to help dry out active breakouts.

Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.

Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.

Keep an eye on: Keep an eye out for irritation or sensitivity when using a resorcinol-containing product.

What Are The Benefits of Resorcinol?

Resorcinol is used in some acne treatments, this is because resorcinol is an antiseptic and keratolytic ingredient which means it exfoliates the skin and protects against infections. Both of these properties help to reduce the appearance and prevalence of blemishes.

Resorcinol also has other benefits such as helping to reduce the symptoms of dandruff. For this reason, resorcinol is sometimes found in shampoos.

Resorcinol is commonly used alongside sulfur in acne treatments. Resorcinol by itself is not as effective as other acne treatment products that have come on the market. However, it is thought to be useful in concentrations around 2% when used in conjunction with sulfur. This is because sulfur also helps to exfoliate, dry out, and reduce bacteria in blemishes.

Is Resorcinol Safe?

Resorcinol is considered to be safe in its currently approved uses and concentrations. Resorcinol can cause sensitivity, irritation, and may increase dryness in some people. According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for evaluating the safety of skincare and cosmetic ingredients. In their review, they noted that resorcinol is safe for use in its current uses and concentrations.

Other uses

Resorcinol is sometimes also found in hair dye formulations and some hair care products. Resorcinol is often used as a coupler ingredient in hair dye. With any hair dye using the oxidative or permanent hair color process, there are three ingredient types necessary for the hair dye to work. These three types are the primary intermediate, oxidant, and coupler. Resorcinol is sometimes used as the coupler component of hair dye.

Welsch, F, 2008. ‘Routes and Modes of Administration of Resorcinol and Their Relationship to Potential Manifestations of Thyroid Gland Toxicity in Animals and Man’, International Journal of Toxicology, vol. 27, is. 1, pp. 59-63.
Rendon MI, Berson DS, Cohen JL, Roberts WE, Starker I, Wang B. Evidence and considerations in the application of chemical peels in skin disorders and aesthetic resurfacing. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(7):32-43.


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