Kojic Acid is a Natural Treatment for Hyper-pigmentation
Many people suffer from hyper-pigmentation that is caused by skin disorders such as acne, eczema or allergic contact dermatitis. It can also be caused by skin damage from excessive exposure to the sun or normal aging brown spots and also can be a birthmark or freckles that a person dislikes. But whatever the cause, hyper-pigmentation can be very unattractive especially on the face as it causes you to have uneven skin tones that are unsightly and sometimes difficult to cover up with makeup. In Japan kojic acid has been used extensively as a skin lightener for hyper-pigmentation.
What are the Benefits of Kojic Acid?
Kojic acid is currently used in many skin care products that promote skin bleaching or lightening. It is a topical treatment that will be found in creams and lotions or soaps. The concentration level is usually around 1% to 4% as it can cause irritation to the skin if higher percentage levels are used. This means that kojic acid might not be the treatment needed for more pervasive levels of hyper-pigmentation. It is known, however, to be effective to reduce freckles and other brown spots on the skin and regular use will lighten the skin.
Where Do You Get Kojic Acid?
Kojic acid is naturally derived from a fungus and is known to deter the enzyme tyrosinase that is an important player in producing melanin which promotes pigmentation in the skin. It combats and stops the production of melanin right at its root and counteracts the antioxidant properties of tyrosinase thereby reversing the excessive darkening of the skin.
You can buy kojic acid in its raw form, but it may cause damage to the skin if it is not diluted with a gel or cream as found in products for hyper-pigmentation containing it. Although the Japanese consume kojic acid in their daily diet, it can cause irritation if used directly on the skin. Skin care products containing kojic acid can be found in department stores and skin care stores as well as online.
Side Effects of Kojic Acid
Overall kojic acid is very effective as a whitening agent to bleach the skin or reduce brown spots and other hyper-pigmentation issues and is found in many skin care products for this purpose. It is also used in some food products. It has been known to cause mild to severe skin irritation on some people and excessive use can cause contact dermatitis for some types of skin. This could mean itchy skin or a rash or redness. It can also become unstable if exposed to air or sunlight so some products use a compound of kojic acid called kojic dipalmitate that is considered more stable, however, its lightening effects are diminished and not as effective.
Often kojic acid is formulated with other ingredients to aid in the lightening process and to minimize any skin irritation. It is generally found in creams or soaps that use it in conjunction with other ingredients that minimize the harshness than if it was used alone. Vitamin C is often found with kojic acid that helps to provide more even skin tones and also provides protection from the UVA and UVB rays of the sun.
Recommended Usage of Kojic Acid
Before starting to use a skin care product with kojic acid, you should consult a dermatologist to discuss your hyper-pigmentation issues and possible treatment plans. You should always use a broad spectrum sunscreen when you use any kojic acid products as the skin may be more sensitive to the sun and the hyper-pigmentation could be worsened without that protection.
The kojic acid cream should only be applied to the particular area of hyper-pigmentation that is a darkened area of the skin as you could have the undesirable effect of lightening an area of normal skin tone. Allow the kojic acid cream to absorb into the skin completely before applying any other product or makeup on top of it. Any kojic acid skin care product will take time before it shows visible results and may take up to six months or more to show the lightening effect you are looking for. If any skin irritation occurs, you should stop usage immediately or contact your physician or dermatologist for advice.