Kojic Acid for Skin: Benefits, Uses, And Side Effects

From cleansing your skin gently to lightening skin tone, there are a lot of uses of kojic acid. Learn all about its benefits, side effects, and forms here.

Chhavi Puri
Written by Chhavi Puri , Skincare Coach & Makeup Expert
Updated on Apr 19, 2024 | 01:19 PM IST | 346.2K
A Comprehensive Guide on Using Kojic Acid for Skin
A Comprehensive Guide on Using Kojic Acid for Skin

Incorporating acids in our skincare routines is not the newest buzz in the beauty town. For years, we have been using acids for various skin woes, be it brightening skin tone, clearing acne, or fighting the signs of aging — acids have always been a staple in the world of skincare! What might be a hindsight bias is the benefits and uses of kojic acid. Yes, we know, it rings a bell! This naturally derived ingredient is a favorite of skincare enthusiasts and dermatologists for lot of skin perks. The key properties of kojic acid help reduce the signs of hyperpigmentation and brighten the overall appearance of the skin. Keep scrolling to tap into the all-inclusive kojic acid guide. 

What Is Kojic Acid And How Does It Work?

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid is a chemical product or natural metabolite, derived from a variety of fungi. It is also produced from the fermentation of certain Asian foods like soy sauce, rice, wine, and Japanese sake. These food items act as a primer for the fungus. Kojic acid is fundamentally a skin whitening, lightening, and depigmenting agent. This is possible with kojic acid’s tyrosine (an amino acid) inhibiting properties, which essentially restrain the synthesis of melanin. Sun exposure, hormonal imbalance, aging, or medication, can cause discoloration and pigmentation on the skin. As an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-proliferative, agent, the derivatives of kojic acid efficiently combat photodamage, excess pigment production, discoloration, and oxidative stress by repairing the cells and reversing the harm (1), (2).

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Amazing Benefits of Kojic Acid for Skin

Kojic Acid

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The cosmetic perks of kojic acid are not limited to mitigating hyperpigmentation and melasma on the skin. Available in different forms in the beauty industry, with a bevy of uses, here are the major benefits of kojic acid you need to know about.

1. Lightens the Skin:  Lending an anti-aging effect, the kojic acid efficiently lightens the signs of photodamage on the skin, along with age spots and scars (1). 

2. Helps Fight Acne: Kojic acid’s antimicrobial effects are valuable for treating acne caused by bacteria in the skin and also lighten the tough scars from acne. Besides these, there are antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties attributed to kojic acid, which are effective in combating fungal infections like yeast infection on the skin, candidiasis, and athlete’s foot (1). 

3. Cleansing Proprties: Soaps or body washes crafted with kojic acid, when used regularly are also helpful in the prevention of infections on the body, caused by bacteria and fungus (1). 

4. Evens Discoloration: The hero feature of kojic acid is to fade and blur the discoloration of all types on the skin, thereby reversing the appearance of uneven skin tone. Topical treatments containing kojic acid work on dark spots, melasma, hyperpigmentation, and sun spots (3). 

Kojic acid is a powerful ingredient that can be used topically in multiple formats and various applications. It is often synced with other well-known skin-friendly and natural ingredients like vitamin C, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid. Such formulas have stronger and more evident results. The following section talks about the forms of kojic acid and its uses.

ALSO READ: How to Prevent Neck Wrinkles: 6 Ways to Achieve Smooth Skin

Kojic Acid’s Different Forms And Uses

Kojic Acid

1. Using products with a higher concentration of kojic acid can cause contact dermatitis, especially in those with sensitive skin types. This can lead to redness, itchiness, rashes, swelling, or any kind of skin discomfort (4). 

2. Keep your skincare regimen under check when adding an active ingredient such as kojic acid. While it efficiently works with other ingredients, combining a lot of them may further agitate the skin. Always consult your dermatologist before adding a kojic acid product to your beauty routine. 

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3. As a potent formula with mild exfoliant properties, kojic acid’s long-term use can make the skin vulnerable to sunburn. Therefore, it is recommended to apply it with sunscreen and protective clothing for the morning hours.

Side Effects And Risks of Kojic Acid

Kojic Acid

1. Using products with a higher concentration of kojic acid can cause contact dermatitis, especially in those with sensitive skin types. This can lead to redness, itchiness, rashes, swelling, or any kind of skin discomfort (4). 

2. Keep your skincare regimen under check when adding an active ingredient such as kojic acid. While it efficiently works with other ingredients, combining a lot of them may further agitate the skin. Always consult your dermatologist before adding a kojic acid product to your beauty routine. 

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3. As a potent formula with mild exfoliant properties, kojic acid’s long-term use can make the skin vulnerable to sunburn. Therefore, it is recommended to apply it with sunscreen and protective clothing for the morning hours. 

Conclusion

When using kojic acid topically, you’ll likely start to see results within two weeks. You may see greater results — or faster results — if you also add glycolic acid to the treatment. You can use kojic acid to treat areas of hyperpigmentation or scarring, but you shouldn’t use it in an attempt to lighten your natural complexion. If you want to use products containing kojic acid to treat a certain condition, make an appointment to see your dermatologist. They can help you decide about the best and safest course of action. They can also provide you with information about dosage and complementary treatments. If you experience any redness, rashes, irritation, or pain when using kojic acid, stop using it immediately.

FAQ's

Can we use kojic acid products every day?
Yes, it is safe to use on a daily basis.

Kojic acid or vitamin C: Which is better?
Both vitamin C and kojic acid offer amazing skincare benefits, however, kojic acid is more potent than Vitamin C and is considered to be less irritating on the skin.

When should I stop using kojic acid products?
If you experience any skin discomfort, you should stop using it immediately or else continue using it.

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About The Author
Chhavi Puri
Chhavi Puri
Skincare Coach & Makeup Expert

Chhavi is a certified Skincare Coach and she's also certified in Makeup Artistry. Her fascination with skincare

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