This popular skincare ingredient is often found in anti-aging creams and serums. It comes from different species of fungi, including Aspergillus oryzae. And the Japanese name for fungus is actually just koji. Koji is used to ferment other ingredients. So, it’s often used to make soy sauce, rice vinegars, and miso. It’s also used to make alcoholic beverages like sake.
Koji acid is created through a process called chelation. Essentially, this process changes the ionic bond of a molecule. It can occur in nature or synthetically in a lab. And when you malt rice, Kojic Acid is the byproduct of the process.
Studies show that Kojic Acid inhibits the formation of pigment in animal and plant tissues. And it’s often used in both food and cosmetics to change the color or even prevent the coloration of substances. Although these studies show that the effect is mild, that makes it perfect for skin care products.
How Does Kojic Acid Work?
Basically, koji acid restricts the amount of melanin your body produces. This is the substance that gives your skin color. When melanin production is working as it’s supposed to, your skin becomes darker when the sun is exposed to it. However, radiation from the sun can do permanent damage to your skin cells. And the melanin may begin to work overtime. Sun spots, dark spots, discoloration, or depigmentation are the words often used to describe the appearance of darker areas on your skin.
As such, Kojic Acid is often found in skin lightening products. There are some negative connotations associated with those types of products. However, in small amount Kojic Acid can seriously reduce discoloration of the skin. And it can even dissolve acne scars and dark spots left by blemishes. It is an exfoliating agent, so it’s best to use this kind of cream or product only a couple days each week, and less if you have sensitive skin.
Kojic Acid Benefits:
- Brightens Dark Spots
- Reduces The Appearance Of Scars
- Prevents Skin Discoloration
- Naturally Derived From Fungi
- Exfoliates The Skin
Kojic Acid Side Effects
Like any kind of skin care product, Kojic Acid has side effects. However, if you use the product as directed, you should be in the clear. Also though with more sensitive skin should definitely start off with smaller amounts and work their way up. Some possible side effects include:
Contact Dermatitis – This is a fancy name for skin irritation. The most common side effect of Kojic Acid usually happens when the concentration of the ingredient is more than 1%. You could experience red skin, rashes, or even swollen skin. The amount of Kojic Acid in skincare products shouldn’t be enough to trigger this kind of reaction.
Delayed Dermatitis – Just like most natural ingredients, using Kojic Acid long term could result in an allergy that develops over time. Most Kojic Acid products are created to be used short term, so this doesn’t happen as much. However, allergies often develop as we age. So this is a natural side effect of almost any ingredient.
If you suffer from skin discoloration and dark spots, it may be worth it to check out Kojic Acid. Studies show that small amounts of this ingredient are perfectly safe. However, it’s when you go above that 1% concentration amount that the side effects begin to happen. And keep in mind that any skincare product with Kojic Acid is mean to be used short term.