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4-Amino-2-hydroxytolune (AHT) is an aromatic amine ingredient in oxidative hair colouring products. As skin contact occurs during hair dyeing, characterisation of dermal metabolism is important for the safety assessment of this chemical class. We have compared the metabolism of AHT in the human keratinocyte cell line HaCaT with that observed ex-vivo in human skin and in vivo (topical application versus oral (p.o.) and intravenous (i.v.) route). Three major metabolites of AHT were excreted, i.e. N-acetyl-AHT, AHT-sulfate and AHT-glucuronide. When 12.5 mg/kg AHT was applied topically, the relative amounts of each metabolite were altered such that N-acetyl-AHT product was the major metabolite (66% of the dose in comparison with 37% and 32% of the same applied dose after i.v. and p.o. administration, respectively). N-acetylated products were the only metabolites detected in HaCaT cells and ex-vivo whole human skin discs for AHT and p-aminophenol (PAP), an aromatic amine known to undergo N-acetylation in vivo. Since N-acetyltransferase 1 (NAT1) is the responsible enzyme, kinetics of AHT was further compared to the standard NAT1 substrate p-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) in the HaCaT model revealing similar values for Km and Vmax. In conclusion NAT1 dependent dermal N-acetylation of AHT represents a ‘first-pass’ metabolism effect in the skin prior to entering the systemic circulation. Since the HaCaT cell model represents a suitable in vitro assay for addressing the qualitative contribution of the skin to the metabolism of topically-applied aromatic amines it may contribute to a reduction in animal testing.