Trust a mushroom that grows best in damp and filthy areas to help you get hold of a clear flawless skin. But that’s exactly the story of kojic acid, one of the most favoured agents to cure all kinds of pigmentation problems on our skin. The skin lightening properties of kojic acid was revealed after it was developed from a mushroom in Japan in 1989.
Kojic acid attacks skin pigmentation problems at their root, that is the production of the melanin pigment. We know that excessive production of the pigment in certain places results in dark spots appearing in these areas.
Kojic acid works by inhibiting the production of melanin. But how does this mushroom byproduct manage to do this? Now the production of melanin involves an amino acid called tyrosine, which is helped to produce the skin-coloring pigment by an enzyme called tyrosinase. The natural properties of kojic acid counter the antioxidant properties of tyrosinase and thus prevent it from acting on tyrosine and producing melanin.
Scientific research has proved kojic acid to be more effective in tackling skin pigmentation better than the conventional ingredients used, such as glycolic acid and even hydroquinone. It is normally used in very tiny concentrations of 1-4 per cent in the production of skin-lightening creams.
Kojic acid dipalmitate is a compound of kojic acid that is used to fight freckles, sun-spots, pregnancy marks and other pigmentation disorders. It does not have the problems that kojic acid has with changing color, and hence is preferred by many product manufacturers.
It is possible to buy kojic acid in its raw, unmixed state from the market, but it is not advisable to use the same directly on the skin. Hence it is more sensible to buy skin lightening products that use kojic acid. Kojic acid products include creams, lotions and soaps.
Kojic acid cream:
Most kojic acid creams use kojic acid as the main lightening agent in combination with other skin toning ingredients, such as liquorice. The creams are of a light, non-greasy consistency and hence are easy to apply.
Kojic acid soap:
A number of manufacturers of skin products have kojic acid soaps in their repertoire. Dermaline has a papaya and kojic acid soap, for instance. Used regularly, kojic acid soaps lightening patchiness on the skin and freckle marks and sun spots.
Kojic acid lotions:
Kojic Acid Maximum Skin Lightener is an example of a kojic acid lotion used for lightening pigmentation marks.
Side effects of kojic acid:
Kojic acid is more effective than a lot of whitening agents used for the skin, such as glycolic acid. And compared with whiteners such as hydroquinone, it is also low on harmful side effects. Since it is a natural extract, unlike the chemical-based hydroquinone and glycolic acid, it is more reliable than the latter. Besides, it is also an active ingredient used in the production of some food items.
The Japanese consume kojic acid in their daily diet, so it follows that there cannot be anything seriously harmful in it. However, it can lead to mild to severe irritation on some skin types. It can also make the areas on which it is applied more sensitive to the sun than the rest of the body.
So once treated by a kojic acid product, you must make sure that you keep your skin is protected by a reliable sun-care cream or lotion.