Kojic acid is produced as a byproduct during fermentation of certain Japanese food such as soy sauce and Japanese sake. It is also derived from mushrooms and certain kinds of fungi. Kojic acid also prevents the formation of tyrosine, an amino acid that is used to produce melanin. Melanin is a dark pigment that imparts dark color to your skin, hair and eyes. Since kojic acid prevents melanin formation, it can give a lightening effect when applied to your skin.
What Are the Uses of Kojic Acid?
- Kojic acid is primarily used on the skin to achieve a lightening effect. It is a common ingredient of foundations, serums, cleansers, moisturizers and soaps.
- It helps bacterial and fungal infections and reduces acne.
- Kojic acid is also being used as a preservative in the food industry. (Majid Saeedia, 2019)
- Kojic acid has become a common ingredient of many hair care and skincare products such as lotions, shampoos, moisturizers and acne creams.
What Are the Benefits of Kojic Acid?
- Since kojic acid imparts a lightening effect, so it is used to lighten scars, age spots and visible areas of sun damage. Moreover, it can prove beneficial in reducing hyperpigmentation, treating melasma and freckles.
- Kojic acid has anti-bacterial properties so it can help fight acne caused by bacteria.
- It also has anti-fungal properties so it is used to treat and prevent fungal infections of the skin such as ringworm, candidiasis and also helps fight dandruff. (Jong H. Kim, 2012)
- Kojic acid also imparts anti-aging effects through its antioxidant properties such that is helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
- It also helps with maintain dental health and hygiene since it removes surface discoloration of teeth and whitens teeth. Therefore, it has now become an essential ingredient of toothpastes and mouth washes.
The Side Effects of Using Kojic Acid
Kojic acid is safe to use in the concentrations of 1%. However, a concentration of 1-4% is also safe to use. (Christina L Burnett, 2010) But some individuals experience some side effects despite using kojic acid in minute quantities. Side effects of using kojic acid are as follows:
- Contact dermatitis (most common side effect)
- Pain and discomfort
- Dry patches on the skin
- Blister formation
- Skin rashes
- Increased sensitivity to sunlight
If you notice any of these symptoms, apply hydrocortisone cream to the affected area.
Precautions and Warning
Always consult your dermatologist before adding kojic acid to your everyday skincare regiment. Your dermatologist will guide you whether kojic acid will suit your skin or not depending on your skin type. Some precautions should always be kept in mind before using kojic acid in yoru everyday routine.
- Before using kojic acid, go a skin patch test. Apply to a small area of your skin and wait for a few minutes. If you notice any redness or skin reaction, drop the idea of adding kojic acid to your skincare routine.
- Remember to avoid using kojic acid on broken, damaged, red or irritated skin.
- Always apply sunscreen before stepping out into the sun after applying kojic acid.
- Follow the directions properly that are mentioned on the product packaging.
- Make sure that you buy those products that contain the accurate concentration of kojic acid as recommended by your dermatologist.
- Do not use kojic acid in large quantities as it can prove to be toxic for your skin resulting in formation of blisters.
- Always inform your dermatologist if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or are planning to conceive before seeking advice for using kojic acid.
- When using kojic acid in the powder form, always mix it with water or lotion.
- Do not keep the product on your skin for a very long time. Rinse it off shortly after application.
A Little Apprehension
Kojic acid, derived from mushrooms is a pro at reducing hyperpigmentation and scarring because it imparts a skin-lightening effect. It also has benefits when used to treat certain medical conditions but it is always advisable to consult your dermatologist for its safest and best use.
Adams, C. (2020, October 29). Less Is More: How to Use Kojic Acid, the Hyperpigmentation Eraser. Retrieved from Greatist: https://greatist.com/health/kojic-acid
Bhattacharya, S. (2021, November 19). Kojic Acid: Your Ultimate Solution To Skin Pigmentation. Retrieved from Skin Kraft: https://skinkraft.com/blogs/articles/kojic-acid
Christina L Burnett, W. F. (2010, Nov-Dec 29). Final report of the safety assessment of Kojic acid as used in cosmetics. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21164073/
Jong H. Kim, P.-K. C. (2012, October 26). Enhancement of Commercial Antifungal Agents by Kojic Acid. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3509554/
Majid Saeedia, M. E. (2019). Kojic acid applications in cosmetic and pharmaceutical preparations. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, Volume 110, Pages 582-593.
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Dalia is an experienced makeup artist and a skincare expert that owned different high-end beauty centres in some of Europe's sought-after countries, such as Switzerland, Spain, and France. One of Dalia's goals is to share her knowledge with her audience to help them get all the information they need while getting inspired.