Hydroquinone also known as quinol is an aromatic organic compound that features two hydroxyl groups bonded to a benzene ring. This aromatic organic compound is a white granular solid and derivatives of this parent compound are also referred to as hydroquinone’s. In the past hydroquinone was derived from the dry distillation of quinic acid. Hydroquinone exists in many forms naturally as well. It is present in the defensive glands of the bombardier beetle, it is one of the chemical constituents of the natural product propolis and it is a chemical compound found in castoreum, which is gathered from beaver plant food.
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Hydroquinone as a variety of applications which are essentially links with is action as a reducing agent that is soluble in water. This organic compound is a significant component in almost all black and white photographic developers for film and where using the compound Metol, silver halides are reduced to elemental silver. Being a strong reducing agent it is extensively used in the production of antioxidants, inhibitors, medicines, dyes among others. Hydroquinone has its biggest market application in the manufacture of skin depigmentation creams where it is used to lighten dark patches, in hyperpigmentation conditions, melasma, spots caused during pregnancy or injury to skin. It is the main ingredient in bleach creams. However, the EPA and the EU has put numerous restrictions against the use of these products that contain more than 4% of hydroquinone. These skin creams are not to be sold over the counter in pharmacies in the U.S and many other European countries due to potential carcinogenic diseases that they are known to induce. A number of companies are trying to switch to natural products that help in the depigmentation of skin instead of hydroquinone as they do not react violently with the skin and are non-allergent. These substitutes include products like arbutin, azelaic acid, bilberry extract, kojic acid, lemon, licorice extract, malic acid, vitamin C among others.
The global market for hydroquinone is mainly driven by various factors, which include the high and rapid growth of a particular industry such as paint, construction and the cosmetic market. Its use as a skin depigmenter is what increases its demand especially among female population. The need to look presentable and get rid of unwanted spots and marks on the body are what accelerate its demand among the women population. However, the stringent rules and regulations that have been posed by the EPA and /the EU against its usedue to its various bad effects which include allergies, immunotoxicity, organ system toxicity, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, ecotoxicity, persistence of the product in the environment and bioaccumulation is what may restrict this market. However companies inverting into extensive research and development programs in order to come up with safer and natural alternatives that can be used for skin depigmentation.
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The key segments considered for this market include Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW). The main manufactures of hydroquinone were North America and European countries. Now most of the countries are shifting their manufacturing units to Asia pacific countries due to lack of stringent laws and regulations by the government against its use. The demand for hydroquinone is high North American and Euroopean countries but is not expected to increase by much over the next few years as natural substitutes for this product is expected to come out in the market there due to the ill effects caused by hydroquinone on people and the environment. The market demand for this product is expected to increase in developing countries like India and China owing to the rapid grown of the dye, paints, cosmetic and fashion industry among others.
The key manufactures of this product include Rhodia, Genetic Ridge, Harrison Specialty, and International Shield among others.