phenylethyl resorcinol


Synthetic antioxidant often seen in skin-lightening products. Compared to proven skin-lightening agents, such as hydroquinone and forms of vitamin C, phenylethyl resorcinol has scant research behind it. The most compelling research looked at the results of a cream with phenylethyl resorcinol plus three other skin-lightening agents. The product was applied over a period of 3 months by 20 women, all of whom also used sunscreen. At the end of the study, it was determined that the women’s dark spots decreased by 43%. [1,2]

The problem is we don’t know how much of this improvement is due to phenylethyl resorcinol, as it wasn’t used alone, which is the case with most products using this ingredient as a means to lighten brown spots. Until more research comes to light, this isn’t an ingredient to bank on for great results if dark spots are your concern; however, it’s fine to use in products that also contain other skin-lightening ingredients with established track records of success. [1,2]

References Cited:

  1. Dreher F, Draelos Z, Gold M, Goldman M, Fabi S, Puissegur M. Efficacy of hydroquinone-free skin-lightening cream for photoaging. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2013;12(1):12-17.
  2. Gold M, Biron J. Efficacy of a novel hydroquinone-free skin-brightening cream in patients with melasma. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2011;10(3):189-96.

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Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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