If the acids in skincare were in a movie production, ascorbic, hyaluronic, and salicylic acids would be the main characters – they’re skincare pros and universally liked.
Kojic acid would be the cool, under-the-radar editing director everyone’s heard of but doesn’t really know anything about.
But, here’s the thing – Kojic acid, in all its uniqueness, deserves some time in the limelight. See, this skincare standout is the perfect dark spot and hyperpigmentation annihilator.
It works flawlessly both on its own and when paired with other spot-fading ingredients, not to mention acts as a potent antioxidant.
Below, a complete low down on how it works, its benefits, and possible side effects.
Properties Featured: Spot fader & skin brightener
Primary Benefits: Blocks melanin production, fades dark spots and sunspots, provides antioxidant protection
Perfect For: All Skin Types, but especially those with acne-prone skin and hyperpigmentation
Not Suitable For: Individuals with overly sensitive skin, injured skin & contact dermatitis
How Often Can You Use It: It depends on what other ingredients are included in the solution. However, experts recommend using it daily, preferably in your nighttime routine
Works Well With: Studies show that the dark spots blaster works flawlessly with and boosts the effects of glycolic acid, hydroquinone, and vitamin C
Shouldn’t Be Used With: While it has a synergetic effect when used with other skin brightening ingredients, pairing it with potent elements can increase the probability of experiencing excessive irritation.
Proceed cautiously and use products containing Kojic acid and other powerful ingredients gradually to offer your skin time to adapt
What is Kojic Acid?
What do fungus and soy sauce have in common? Kojic acid, baby!
The dark spots blaster is sourced from mushrooms.
It’s also a byproduct of various fungi that occur due to the fermentation of Asian foods like miso, rice wine, and soy sauce.
Unlike alpha-hydroxy, beta-hydroxy, and poly-hydroxy acids that even out your skin tone through chemical exfoliation, Kojic acid works by inhibiting tyrosinase formation – the enzyme that stimulates melanin production.
It also works seamlessly when paired with other spot-fading ingredients – mostly glycolic acid and hydroquinone.
However, dermatologists often pair it with hydroquinone for a synergetic, prescription-strength, skin- illuminating product.
Kojic acid also works perfectly on its own and is an ideal alternative for individuals who cannot tolerate the more potent hydroquinone.
It’s also less likely to bleach your skin, making it a perfect option for people with darker complexions.
Benefits of Kojic Acid
Spot-clearing and skin brightening are some of the benefits Kojic acid offers. Here are other standout qualities:
Acts As A Powerful Antioxidant: Apart from fading dark spots, Kojic helps counteract skin-disrupting free radicals triggered by UV damage and pollution exposure.
This not only enhances your skin tone but also makes Kojic a brilliant anti-aging ingredient.
Fights Hyperpigmentation: When applied topically, Kojic helps brighten existing sunspots and photodamage, fade dark spots caused by acne scarring, and improve melasma.
It does this by limiting the production of tyrosine, the amino acid that stimulates melanin production.
Offers Anti-Inflammatory Properties: While its primary benefit is skin brightening, Kojic acid is also unique in its ability to manage inflammation issues.
How to Use Kojic Acid
Like with every other skincare ingredient, it’s best to work Kojic acid into your routine gradually.
Use a small amount one day, then give your skin a break the next day. This will help you determine if your skin is super sensitive to it.
Also, when used over time, Kojic acid can make your skin more susceptible to the sun. Therefore, using sunscreen should be non-negotiable.
You can find the skincare ingredient in various skincare treatments, including cleansing creams/gels, potent serums, spot treatments, and one-and-done face masks.
There are also Kojic acid chemical peels, which are often paired with other acids like AHA to help brighten skin.
The Side Effects of Kojic Acid
Kojic acid is considered a safe skincare ingredient despite its’ acid’ moniker. However, according to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, you should only use a 1% concentration of Kojic acid topically.
It’s well-tolerated compared to hydroquinone and other acids, but an allergy or irritation is undoubtedly possible.
Irritation, itchiness, and redness are the most common side effects, but these are typically uncommon if you use low concentrations of Kojic acid.
However, if you experience continued discomfort even after using low-concentrated amounts, be sure to contact your dermatologist as soon as possible.