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How Kojic Acid Benefit Your Skin According to Science

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Your goal is a brighter, more even complexion. I agree with you hyperpigmentation can be really dull. But luckily, there are tons of skincare ingredients for brightening the skin. Yet not each will work as great as you’d expect, and you may end up disappointed. Now a bunch of women is swearing this fella does wonder with brightening dark spots. And with clearing up blemishes. Plus, that helps with anti-aging too! I’m speaking about kojic acid. While its popularity is undeniable, are the stories about its superiority correct? Or is it all just misinformation? I’ll talk about everything you need to know about kojic acid before you decide whether you should try it or not. 

What is kojic acid?

Kojic acid is a chemical derived from different types of fungi or fermented rice. That is how it got the name – koji is the Japanese term for steamed rice. Thanks to much researches, we know that its characteristic of restraining and blocking the formation of tyrosine, needed for producing melanin, which is the pigment that influences skin color. Since it limits the creation of melanin, kojic acid can have a lightning effect. You can find it in several different types of cosmetic products, including powders, serums, creams, cleansers, and soaps. The concentration that is approved in cosmetics is 1% or less.

Kojic acid skin benefits

“Kojic acid has broad applications in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. The primary benefit is the lighting of the skin, whatever it is sun damage or scars. Further, this could result in an anti-aging effect since the age spots will go brighter too,” dermatovenerologist, doctor Ljiljana Trklja explained.


Okay, I dunno about yours, but this is getting my full attention! So, let us go a bit more into details, shall we?

Lightening your skin

Summer is knocking at the door, and we’re all excited about it! But as I am sure you know, extreme sun exposure can lead to hyperpigmentation. Further, it will increase dark spots caused by acne. That is where kojic acid steps in with stoping the production of melanin! So, by applying it to your face, you’ll get a more even tone. And overall brighter complexion, of course.

Anti-aging effect

Remember tyrosine, the amino acid needed for melanin generation? Well, whole that process wouldn’t be possible without the help of tyrosinase. And tyrosinase is the enzyme responsible for the aging process. The analysis proves that kojic acid (KA) is blocking the action of tyrosinase. In conclusion, it’s reducing wrinkles and slowing down signs of aging.

A powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial

Scientists are revealing that KA has antimicrobial and antioxidant powers, even acting as a UV protector. So, this may be your ally of sun exposure pollution and bacterias! Fewer bacterias mean fewer chances to develop pimples!

Antifungal properties

If you look at the ingredients of antifungal products, you could often see kojic acid there. Experts are suggesting that it treats skin fungal infections. We are speaking about yeast infections, candidiasis, and ringworm or athlete’s foot. For example, if your soap contains kojic acid, it may prevent infections in the body.

Kojic acid side effects

While I was learning about the benefits, I got all hooked up on it. But then I found out it’s banned in Switzerland and Japan because of a potential connection to skin cancer. Any mention of cancer makes me super alerted! Still, a review tells that the link is only present when the acid is used in high concentrations. So, 1% or less should be safe! Either way, never use it on damaged or broken skin. Any other risks, besides this?


“The most common side effect is contact dermatitis. This condition is likely to occur in those with sensitive skin. It manifests in many discomforts. Examples are redness, irritation, itchiness, swollen skin, and pain. Plus, long-term use could make your skin more receptive to sunburn,” doctor Ljiljana stated.

Now, speaking about sensitivity on sunburns, I feel like we’re repeating ourselves like parrots, but you know that sunscreens and protective clothing are nevertheless not negotiable?

How to use kojic acid?

Most commonly, people use kojic acid for the face and hands. The products vary — you could find anything from powders to creams! Of course, serums are the most powerful. However, no matter the product type, start by using it twice weekly to see how your skin reacts to it, especially if it’s on the sensitive side.

Who should use it?

Anyone who has a problem with hyperpigmentation and discoloration since kojic acid is safe for both dark and light skin. Keep in mind that contraindications are most likely to happen to those with sensitive skin. Thus, it requires extra carefulness.

Best kojic acid products

Now that you know how to use this skin-lightener, you’re one step closer to evener skin. All you need now is a product with kojic acid, like these:

Dr Dennis Gross Clinical Grade Correcting Serum

Dr Dennis Gross Clinical Grade Correcting Serum

The ingredient that pairs wonderfully with kojic acid is vitamin C. Well, this serum has 10% L-ascorbic acid (the purest form of vit C with strong antioxidant properties), kojic, lactic, mandelic, ferulic, azelaic, glycolic acids, and arbutin another potent ingredient for skin lightening. All these ingredients work to fade dark spots in no time. Give it a chance.

Skinceuticals Skin Discoloration Serum

Skinceuticals Skin Discoloration Serum

This serum includes a blend of dark spot correcting ingredients, making a powerful brown patches fighter. With 1% kojic acid, 5% niacinamide, 3% tranexamic acid, promises to minimize hyperpigmentation and post-acne marks while improving skin brightness with regular use. It can be used by all skin types, though if your skin is sensitive, start with twice-weekly usage to help your skin build tolerance.

Evagloss Dark Spot Corrector Serum

Evagloss Dark Spot Corrector Serum

On the affordable side is this serum made with a combination of skin-lightening ingredients, such as tranexamic, kojic, ascorbic acids, and arbutin. On top of that, it includes glycerin, urea, hyaluronic acid, and castor oil to nourish and soothe the skin, keeping irritations away. Everybody praise it for its dark spots reducing properties, just browse the reviews and get convinced.

The bottom line

My first results from using kojic acid showed up within two weeks. So, I would recommend it, as long as you are careful (same as with any chemicals!) However, if you want to use it for a more severe condition, better check with your dermatologist. The bonus tip to soothe irritation is to apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or ointment to the damaged region. Happy brightening, ladies!

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