We’re diving right in. Resorcinol is a white crystalline substance that is water-soluble. It works by breaking down hardened skin that is rough and scaly. Often uses of resorcinol is to treat pain and itching caused by minor scrapes, cuts, sunburn. Also commonly used in hair dyes and hair bleaching products.
When applied topically in small doses, it can help fight against bacterial infections. That is why it is commonly used to treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, seborrhoea, corns, calluses, warts, and other skin disorders. Apart from that, it is also used to treat pain and itchy caused by minor cuts and scrapes, burns, insect bites and poison ivy and sunburn.
Wow! That sounds so impressive huh? But Resorcinol is a big no-no, and we’re here to share with you why you should avoid this ingredient, especially when it is in hair dyes!
First of all, Resorcinol is dangerous when absorbed into the blood system, it should not be used on any open wounds, irritated scalps, large skin areas, or any skin areas that have a large amount of pores and follicles, despite the fact that it is often found in wound healing cream, sunburn cream, etc.
Almost 50% of resorcinol demand comes from the rubber industry and followed closely by the high-quality wood bonding application industry. But a huge amount of resorcinol is also used in dye-making, hair dyes, bleaching formulation. Making a small demand for resorcinol use in the pharmaceuticals, flame retardants, agricultural chemicals, fungicidal creams, and lotions.
Both rubber manufacture and the hair dyes formulations contain the highest concentration of resorcinol. In the hair dyes industry, resorcinol reacts with a developer (which is usually peroxide) to get the specific hair color and to bond the hair with the dyes permanently. And this may be the riskiest way to get exposed to the harmful chemical, especially when the hair dye is close to or on the scalp, it may be absorbed into your body just that easily.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), it is classified as a skin irritant and endocrine disruptor (which causes hormone imbalance and fertility complications). That is why it is rated with a score of 6-8, depending on the usage or concentration. Considering that hair dyes have a higher concentration of resorcinol, it is likely that the scoring would be higher as well.
Attention to all preggies and breast-feeding moms!! Resorcinol should never be used by pregnant women, women who are or may be breastfeeding, or women who are planning pregnancy as resorcinol may be stored in fat cells and released into the bloodstream at a later time. This may cause toxic chemical to potentially harm the nursing baby.
World Health Organization (WHO) also stated that resorcinol causes thyroid dysfunction (probably because it is an endocrine disruptor). It can manifest in hyperthyroidism and causes an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This would affect the central nervous system and can lead to drowsiness, unconsciousness, seizures, and alterations in the adrenal glands as shown in animal studies. Without a proper prescription, resorcinol can be acutely toxic when used in high concentrations or orally consumed.
With that being said, resorcinol is permitted to be used as a topical acne over-the-counter (OTC) drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with a concentration of up to 2% when used in combination with sulfur at levels of 3-8%.
It is also used as an active ingredient in OTC topical analgesics (painkiller) and anorectal (related to anus and rectum) drugs. And, since it is prescribed medicine, it is advised to use this medication with a proper amount or not to be left on skin longer than recommended by the doctor and only apply in the area needing treatment. Oh and don’t forget, our skin absorbs up to 60% of the things we put on! So, we should really be mindful of really needing the treatment cream and must adhere to the proper time to be left on the skin.
However, according to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, there are no effects of long term dermal exposure to resorcinol and 2-Methylresorcinol although they are considered as mild skin irritants and rare sensitizing. It is allowed to be used in oxidative hair dyes with a concentration of 5% and fortunately, most manufacturer limits the level of free resorcinol to be at 1.25%.
The bottom line regarding resorcinol is, although it is effective in hair coloring and less expensive ingredients it does not mean that it outweighs the harm it may cause to our body. Not forgetting that it stores in fat cells, which may last in our bodies longer than we think.
What we can do to limit our exposure to resorcinol is to limit the hair dying period or choose an alternative to resorcinol whenever possible. It may also come in the following other names in ingredient lists: 1,3-Benzenediol; Ci Developer 4; M-Dihydroxybenzene; M-Hydroquinone; 3-Hydroxyphenol; Oxidation Base 31; M-Phenylenediol; Resorcin; 1,3benzenediol; 1,3-Benzenediol; And 1,3-Dihydroxybenzene
We want you to stay safe and stay informed, be an informed consumer for the benefit of yourself and your loved ones!