Kojic Acid: All That You Need to Know

The meteoric rise and rise of the popularity of oriental skin care practices and products gave birth to kojic acid. And the limelight being on this little-known ingredient has led to a number of pertinent questions being asked such as; how exactly is kojic acid good for the skin? The fact that it is often mentioned in the same breath as hydroquinone does not help matters either. Well, buckle up. Here is a detailed premise to that.

What Is Kojic Acid?

You may have first heard the name being whispered in your dermatologist's  waiting lounge or maybe a friend recommended it to you when you couldn't stop moaning about your struggles with hyperpigmentation. At this juncture, it is only natural that you're wondering,"What is kojic acid?" or "What is kojic acid derived from?"

Unlike other skin care ingredients, kojic acid is 100% naturally produced. To be specific, it is the byproduct of rice fermentation courtesy of a special anaerobic fungus. Ever since it's discovery, it has been employed in combating a wide range of skin problems such as sun spots, acne scars and acne scarring. More importantly, the unique kojic acid structure puts it at the forefront of dealing with hyperpigmentation thanks to its ability to prevent/inhibit the secretion of tyrosine - an amino acid needed for the formation of melanin. Now, you know why dermatologists recommend it as a natural skin lightener/brightener ingredient.

Exploring the Numerous Kojic Acid Benefits

It should not come as a surprise that there are several kojic acid benefits making rounds in skin care circles. After all, this is an ingredient that has been used to treat a wide range of cosmetic problems for generations now. It's also an approved skin-lightening agent in most countries. It's no wonder that a majority of kojic acid skin benefits revolve around epidermal brightening and correcting problems that are precipitated by abnormal production of melanin.

Speaking of which, the effects of kojic acid on skin can be traced back to its ability to manipulate the synthesis of melanin. Melanin, in case you are not aware, is the natural pigment that is responsible for the color of your skin, hair and eyes. An amino acid known as tyrosine is, ordinarily, used to support/regulate the formation of new melanin pigment and this is where kojic acid comes in play. You see, kojic acid can block the production of tyrosine which, as you would expect, translates to less melanin being formed. Lower production of your skin's main pigment then translates to a brighter-looking and a naturally lighter skin tone.

Unlike when using other abrasive skin lightening compounds, the brightening process when you're relying on kojic is 100% organic and sustainable. Actually this is the reason your dermatologist is more likely to recommend a cream such as Bloommy's Papaya Kojic Acid Glutathione over a standard mercury-laden lightening serum to fade your acne scars.

So, are you still at a loss about what does kojic acid do? Well, apparently skin lightening products that have kojic acid can be employed on other body parts, not just the face. e.g the torso, abdomen and legs. And depending on where exactly the soap, serum or cream is meant to be used, the concentration of kojic acid can range anywhere between 1 and 5 percent of the formulation.

What Is Kojic Acid Used For?

There is no denying that kojic acid uses straddle a broad range of cosmetic niches. And if you are asking yourself, 'what is kojic acid used for?' The following section will do a lot to enlighten you on this subject.

  • A superb anti-aging agent: While cosmetic products that contain kojic acid could help lighten your scars and make blemishes less noticeable, it's the anti-aging effect of this skin care ingredient that really flies under the radar. Furthermore, it should go without saying that reduction of sun damage and age spots should make you look younger than your peers.
  • Treating melasma: Thanks to its skin brightening ability, Kojic acid for face has been shown to be beneficial in treating melasma or at the very least improving the appearance of the symptoms.
  • Antifungal properties: Experts believe that kojic acid packs some remarkable antifungal benefits and could be helpful in treating and preventing a number of fungal infections such as yeast infestation and athlete's foot.
  • Flawless skin: Kojic acid is capable of decreasing the discoloration that is associated with acne scars. And although this organic acid may not reduce the overall thickness of the scar tissue like other standard scar removal options, it can lessen the characteristic dark pigmentation that is synonymous with blemishes and certain types of acne scars. Besides, lightening scars is also a good way of making it less conspicuous anyway.
  • Antibacterial benefits: Kojic acid has innumerable antibacterial effects. It's actually the reason it's utilized as a star ingredient in a number of antibacterial soaps, face washes and antiseptic face creams to stop the progress of bacterial skin infections.

Kojic Acid For Skin Lightening

Kojic acid skin lightening properties are unique in the sense that when this skincare ingredient is used in the right formulation, it has the power to fade dark spots and melanated patches. This skin brightening ability is then enhanced by its potent antioxidant elements that come in handy in the post treatment of acne breakouts.

As described earlier in this article, kojic acid hyperpigmentation benefits emanate from the observation that the ingredient is capable of inhibiting the activity of enzyme tyrosine which plays a critical role in the formation of dark spots and sun tans. That said, one of the things that make kojic acid skin whitening such an inviting prospect is the fact that it has a narrower side effect profile compared to other conventional skin bleachers that can predispose you to a slew of debilitating aftereffects. To all intents and purposes, dermatologists will recommend skin bleaching kojic acid treatment over most traditional skin lighteners that you can find in a supermarket aisle.

Kojic Acid For Acne And Scars

Employing kojic acid for acne scars is nothing new, unheard of or surprising. After all, this is the same skin care ingredient that is quite adept at improving the appearance of razor burns when applied judiciously over a prolonged length of time. Also, there is new evidence that shows that kojic acid has minimal anti-inflammatory benefits that could prove to be extremely handy in minimizing the severity/frequency of acne breakouts, particularly when used in conjunction with another skin constituent such as retinol. This explains the marked popularity of kojic acid for acne creams that are slowly replacing those that are purely based on retinol and benzoyl peroxide.

Kojic Acid For Dark Spots

Unleashing kojic acid for dark spots ranks as one of the common applications of this magical ingredient. You see, despite its outstanding 'acid' moniker, Kojic acid is far from being an abrasive compound that can exacerbate issues that are associated with other regular pigment-removing compounds. Not to mention that kojic acid is not even a ‘pigment-remover' in the first place. All it does is modulate the synthesis of melanin to ensure a naturally brighter, balanced and attractive skin tone at the end of the day.

Having established that, it is crucial to point out that the ingredient can precipitate a serious irritation when overused or used improperly. That's the reason it is important to use a quality and well-balanced kojic acid-infused cream to get rid of discolorations that weren't originally a part of your complexion such as sun spots, age spots or those frustrating post acne marks.

Is Kojic Acid Safe?

Having gone through the various dermatological benefits of kojic acid, it's only natural to be troubled with questions such as, 'is kojic acid safe?' or 'how to use kojic acid?'

Well, here is the thing: Those among us who are frequently troubled by hyperpigmentation, whether caused by signs of aging, the sun or post-breakout marks, will find this ingredient very useful. Nevertheless, if you have fairly sensitive skin, then you may want to start small and build up a dermatological tolerance to it. Either way, just like any other  treatment regimen, it is not exactly uncommon to experience slight irritation and inflammation in the first few days of starting to use it.  This irritation, however, should wane after a couple of days and, if it does not, you may want to switch to a product with a lower kojic acid concentration. Now, depending on your choice of treatment, you can use kojic acid in a number of forms - ranging from face masks to potent serums or soaps.

That aside, there are a few potential kojic acid side effects such as;

  • Contact dermatitis: It often manifests itself as irritation, rashes, discomfort, swollen skin, extreme itchiness and redness immediately or a few hours after using a product that contains kojic acid. It's most observed in individuals who have extremely sensitive skin or those who are using unbalanced serums that may contain more than 5% of the active ingredient in their formulation. It is advisable to discontinue use of such a product as soon as you develop these symptoms and consult your dermatologist for an alternative.
  • Increased susceptibility to sunburns: Extended use of kojic acid products, especially without the guidance of your dermatologists can make your skin more likely to suffer sunburns. Bear this in mind and either wear suitable protective clothing e.g. hats and caps and slather on that sunscreen with a decent SPF

In closing

It is not advisable to use kojic acid creams, soaps and serums on broken or damaged skin. This means that you will want to wait for those acne lesions to clear up before incorporating this skin care ingredient into your skin care game.

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