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Do you carefully check the label of your skin care products? If you do, you must have come across the ingredient Kojic Acid in a lot of skin care products, especially in skin lightening or anti-blemish cosmetics. In fact, pigmentation reducing products like Kaya Pigmentation Reducing Complex and Fab India Vitamin E De-Pigmentation Cream contain kojic acid as the ingredient of action. In today’s post, I will discuss in detail about this ingredient, its action and side effects.
What is Kojic Acid?
Kojic acid is a natural crystal like substance produced by some species of fungi, especially Aspergillus Oryzae. This Aspergillus species is called koji in Japanese and hence, the name kojic acid.
What does Kojic Acid do?
Kojic acid functions primarily as a skin lightening agent in many skin care products. Because of its ability to penetrate deep into skin layers and limit melanin production, it is often seen as a skin lightening gel.
How does it Work?
Kojic acid is an exfoliating agent, and it removes dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and organisms that might be thriving on your skin. It reveals newer skin layer and aids in reducing the melanin production.
Is it Effective?
Multiple research studies have been conducted to find if kojic acid is really effective. In fact, in a 1982 study done in Japan, a group of patients were treated with Kojic Acid for more than a year, among which 95% saw improvement in the whitening of their skin. Over the years, several studies have proved that kojic acid causes skin lightening.
Who Can Use Kojic Acid?
Those who have a tendency to get hyperpigmentation, whether caused by the sun, signs of ageing, or post-breakout effects, can benefit from the ingredient. If you have acne scars, pox marks, or pigmentation, try incorporating it in small doses.
How to Use Kojic Acid?
When used as a skin whitening agent, kojic acid is generally formulated at a concentration of 1% in leave-on creams. However, products containing more than 1% kojic acid can be found in the market. Depending on your treatment of choice, kojic acid can be used on your skin in a variety of forms – potent serums to treatment face masks. In fact, a very common form of using kojic acid is kojic acid soaps.
Is it Safe?
When compared to other skin lightening alternatives like hydroquinone, kojic acid is safer and gentler. However, kojic acid is highly sensitising and may cause irritant contact dermatitis, even in its typical concentration levels below 4%. Also, it increases the risk of sunburns due to higher skin sensitivity.
What Precautions Should One Take While Using Kojic Acid?
• If your skin is more on the sensitive side, make sure to incorporate it in small doses as nighttime treatments.
• Slight inflammation and sensitivity is expected in the beginning, but if you continue to experience irritation, shift to a lower concentration, or a milder alternative altogether.
• A person needs to apply corticosteroid to skin after kojic acid exfoliation to strengthen the skin against hypersensitivity.
• Long-term use of any skin lightening product may increase the risk of sunburn, so use a high protection sunscreen as directed.
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