Kojic acid as an ingredient in Skincare Products is quickly growing in popularity. Notably, it’s starting to replace hydroquinone in many bleaching agents. Kojic acid is simply made from several different types of fungi. It is also a byproduct when certain foods ferment, including Japanese sake, soy sauce, and rice wine.

Kojic acid functionally inhibits and prevents the formation of tyrosine, which is an amino acid that is needed to produce melanin. Melanin is the pigment that affects hair, skin, and eye color. Because it inhibits the production of melanin, kojic acid can have a lightening effect.

Forms of Kojic Acid and its uses

Kojic acid is often used in a topical manner to treat a number of different cosmetic conditions. It has been approved for use in cosmetic products in concentrations of one percent or less. It is most often used as a skin-lightening agent.

Kojic acid can usually be found in a number of different types of cosmetic and skincare products, including powders, serums, creams, cleansers, and soaps. Powders of Kojic acid should be mixed with water or lotion, depending on the product instructions. Some products, like soaps and cleansers, are meant to be washed off immediately. Other products like creams and serums are designed to be left on and absorbed into the skin. However, kojic acid overall has relatively poor absorption rates below the surface of the skin.

Some products like face masks are designed to be used only once after a certain period of time. Creams and cleansers may be used daily.

How Kojic Acid Works

Kojic acid basically inhibits your body’s melanin production. Melanin is the pigment that adds brown colour to your skin, hair, eyes, and more. ‌By inhibiting your melanin production, it creates a more consistent skin tone in the treated areas. As a result, splotchy areas on your skin become less defined until they match the surrounding skin. ‌

Its properties allow it to be a bleaching agent when used in creams, gels, and other cosmetics. Kojic acid is similar to a chemical called hydroquinone. They are both effective treatments for hyperpigmentation.  Treatment with kojic acid is not immediate. For significant improvement, you will need to use a kojic acid skincare for up to three months in some cases.

Understanding Kojic Acid and Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is described as dark spots on your skin caused by excessive melanin. It’s typically nothing to worry about, but the spots may affect your appearance. 

Hyperpigmentation is common for many adults. Hyperpigmentation comes from:

  • Excessive sun exposure or artificial blue light
  • A medical condition
  • Hormone changes
  • Severe rashes

Pigmented birthmarks and moles are common types of hyperpigmentation. While these typically appear at birth and are not dangerous, they can pose certain health risks by turning into cancer later in life. ‌

Kojic acid isn’t just for large areas of hyperpigmentation. You can use kojic acid to treat sun damage, spots from ageing, and scarring.

Potential benefits of Kojic Acid

Kojic’s acid primary use and benefit are to lighten visible sun damage, age spots, or scars. This can result in an anti-aging effect on the skin.

In addition to these skin-lightening effects, kojic acid also contains some antimicrobial properties. It may help fight off several common types of bacterial strains even when in small dilutions. This can help treat acne caused by bacteria in the skin. It may also lighten scars from acne that haven’t faded yet.


When using kojic acid topically, you will likely start to see results within two weeks. You may see greater results or faster results if you also add glycolic acid to the treatment.

You can use kojic acid in your skincare to treat areas of hyperpigmentation or scarring, but you should not use it in an attempt to lighten your natural complexion.

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