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Lightening Up With Kojic Acid

Skin lightening with Kojic acid has become a popular way to even out skin tone and eliminate skin discoloration. Read more to find out why.

The quest for light, even-toned skin is an age-old pursuit, dating as far back as when Cleopatra immersed herself in milk to achieve the beautiful, radiant skin that had men fighting over her. Today, there are countless products all claiming to produce glowing, blemish-free body and facial skin for men and women. It usually takes a trial-and-error process to find the right product, and quite a few end with disastrous results.

In the battle to gain supremacy over this particular dermatologic war, one stands out above the rest – Kojic acid. Kojic acid is a natural whitening agent that originated in Japan in 1989. It's derived from a species of mushroom and is most recognized for its successful treatment of pigmentation spots and skin discoloration. Proof of its effectiveness is its endorsement by the sensational Dr. Oz, who is known to plug only products he believes in. The great thing is, there are reliable brands containing Kojic acid that you can buy without a doctor’s prescription and from the comfort of your home through online stores.

How Does Kojic Acid Work
Kojic acid works to prevent melanin formation by inhibiting tyrosinase activity at the deeper layers of the skin. The excess production of melanin can bring about pigmentation, causing the appearance of brown irregular patches on the skin, especially those that are exposed to the sun. Aside from sun exposure, other causes of pigmentation are hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and menopause. Cosmetics used to lighten the skin and give it a smooth, even tone incorporate Kojic acid into their creams to prevent or minimize pigmentation. With melanin production blocked, the skin darkening can be reversed to produce lighter and whiter skin.

Benefits of Kojic Acid

  • Skin Whitening/Lightening

The most popular function that kojic acid is known for, purchased and used is its skin lightening effect. By preventing the production of melanin, it lightens age spots, scars from acne, freckles and melasma. Freckles are unsightly small brown spots that come from excess melanin in the dermis, the underlying layer of the skin. They are most common in people with fair skin and are most prevalent on the face, although they are also seen on sun-exposed areas of the body, like the arms and shoulders. Melasma are larger than freckles, occurring when the pigment-producing cells or the melanocytes become over-productive. They can be caused by hormonal changes, such as when a woman is on birth control pills or is pregnant.

Kojic acid is a key component of bleaching creams used to treat freckles and melasma. An important reminder is to stay away from the sun when using kojic acid and to always put on a powerful sun block on the parts of the body that are exposed to sunlight.

  • Antibacterial and Antioxidant Properties

Lesser-known functions of kojic acid are its antibacterial and antioxidant capabilities. It's a very effective treatment for melasma, a skin condition characterized by patchy brown areas more often affecting women. It's also used to lighten post-acne scars. Kojic acid is also used in food products as a preservative agent and a flavor enhancer. as an antioxidant, it inhibits oxidation which turns food into a brown color, such as fruits.

Kojic acid is a great option for people who are hypersensitive to hydroquinone, a well-known synthetic whitening agent that has encountered more allergic reactions than kojic acid from its users. Hydroquinone is banned in Europe, making kojic acid a welcome alternative for people looking for skin lightening agents.

Cosmetic companies have mixed kojic acid into several products, among them soaps, creams and lotions. Concentrations vary from 1 percent for maximum levels to less potency for sensitive skin. In soaps, they help in exfoliation and lightening, removing dead skin cells and revealing the glowing, healthy skin underneath. Kojic acid enhances the skin-lightening effect in creams and lotions without the adverse reactions of stronger bleaching elements.

How To Use Kojic Acid Products

Kojic Acid products are typically used twice daily, after cleansing, for one to two months. It takes perseverance to apply kojic acid products, as it often takes weeks or months for visible results to appear. When you have achieved your desired lightening, applying kojic acid a few times a week will help you to maintain the skin tone.

Safety Precautions

  • Keep your kojic acid in a cool dry place and close the container tightly after each use. Kojic acid turns brown and loses its effectiveness when exposed to air or sun.
  • Always apply sunscreen if you want to preserve the skin whitening/lightening.
  • Seek medical advice if you experience allergic reactions or skin rashes.
  • Do not use on children under 12 years of age.

Kojic acid is a relatively new discovery in the field of skin lightening and whitening. If you are looking for creams and lotions to enhance your skin’s texture and tone, consider yourself lucky for having found kojic acid.


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