Kojic Acid for Skin : Side Effects, Benefits And Properties

Kojic Acid has been in the cosmetic industry for a long time and has tried to fight a problem that is becoming more and more common, the spots that are generated on our skin. These can be the result of any activity or condition such as continuous exposure to the sun, or by the various hormonal imbalances that are generated in our body (acne).

In most cases, the stains get out of control and it is almost impossible to prevent them , but what we can achieve is that they stop darkening (which always occurs as a consequence of exposure to the sun). We can say that it is a kind of pigmentation, which is mainly motivated by an excess of melanin.

An exaggerated production of what we can call pigment, is catalyzed precisely by an enzyme called tyrosinase. Those who have this problem are recommended to use a cream or product with a truly extensive protection factor, especially when they are going to be massively exposed to the sun’s rays.

The cosmetic industry has used kojic acid as a remedy for this condition or problem , which is a well-known kind of substance, really effective, to treat even the most severe spots that appear on the skin. In this article you will find all the information about this compound, which can be of great help.


What I should know about Kojic Acid: Importance

Regardless of which product is involved, it is necessary and extremely important to know at least the basic information , in this case about kojic acid. Among these knowledge that must be had are what it is, presentations or similar products, origin, ingredients, where to buy it, benefits, against indications or adverse effects, among others.

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As you can read throughout this article, we will give you the answer to all these questions, which you should know in case you want to use kojic acid. The importance of this lies in the fact that it is necessary to know what we supply to our body, to appreciate the benefits while they are pronounced or to act quickly in the face of adverse effects.

What is Kojic Acid?

Before using any compound, whether natural or not, the first question we must always answer is what is it? , in this case kojic acid. It is a relatively new natural and healthy substance , which is a chemical resulting from some fermentation processes that is given to Japanese sake made with rice wine.

Although, this sake is contained as a by-product like soy sauce and it appears in the fermentation of rice (highlighting that it is usually in large quantities). It generally has a white powder form and its structure is based on small crystals , which almost always act in contact with the skin.

Are there compounds or products similar to Kojic Acid?

Before this compound, kojic acid, was discovered, the main ingredient used to whiten skin was Hydroquinone. It is a white, crystalline (powder) substance that is used (because it is still made) as a compound in the preparation of products (creams) to lighten skin pigmentation.

This compound (Hydroquinone) and its elaborated products (similar to kojic acid), are used mainly to combat skin blemishes that arise as a result of diseases such as dermatitis, hypermelanosis and even inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

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However, when comparing hydroquinone and kojic acid, it can be noted that with the application of the former there are usually more cases where the compound caused a lot of irritation to the skin. Which is why kojic acid is much more recommended by dermatologists , even if it is as an alternative method.

Origin of Kojic Acid

Although it is a relatively new product for most people, it is not so new and the cosmetic industry knows it. The origin of kojic acid dates back to 1989 , where it was discovered by the Japanese, in this native country (Japan) . The name is given by a Japanese term ” koji ” which is widely used to call certain fungi or bacteria.

It comes as a surprise on the part of the scientists, who were shocked by how white the hands of the people in charge of making the well-known sake (very traditional rice wine) were. For the benefit of all, they managed to isolate the substance (the fungus) responsible for the production of this compound.

What are the ingredients and properties of Kojic Acid?

Among the properties of kojic acid we can find some very beneficial such as anti-blemishes, inhibitors of the regular formation of melanin for the synthesis of L – TYROSINE, antioxidants, whitening, antibiotics and anti aging.

Products that are made with kojic acid usually contain only 1% to 5% of it, you can rectify this information on the label (which should have as a standard) each product created by a certified company or organization, as well as with the respective doctor (preferably a dermatologist).

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Where to buy kojic acid or some of the cosmetic products with this compound?

Kojic acid is presented as one of the most ingenious and innovative ingredients on the market today, both for the cosmetic industry and for us human beings. Which is why it is important to know where to buy it or acquire a product that contains it within the components that make it up.

The first thing we should know is that it is an over-the-counter product, in any of its presentations. You can find a wide variety of Japanese products or creams that contain kojic acid in pharmacies or natural apothecaries. Even in virtual stores (that is, online) such as Amazon or other pages available on the web.

These products contain a very low concentration of this acid, intended to treat skin conditions through a natural and homemade way, this concentration is around 0.5% of each product in estimation. Prices vary a lot, they will depend on the centers where you want to buy them.

The price that you can find on the web for creams, ampoules and lotions that contain kojic acid is between 15 and 40 euros. While first-class products such as those made by the Lanôcme brand can cost up to more than 160 euros each.

Does Kojic Acid or the products that comprise it really work?

Since its origin, kojic acid has proven to work very well as a skin lightener , acting naturally and constantly. For some people, products that contain this compound do not work completely, as the positive effects are not seen instantly. However, in the long term it shows that it works very well generating results.

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Ideally, you should be the one to determine if it really works, since there are factors that must be taken into account to answer this question, such as: skin type, degree of stain, origin of this, other treatments that have been or are being applied, compounds that are present in the products and the time that must be used.

Benefits of Kojic Acid (natural or as an ingredient in various products)

Kojic acid is presented as a natural and functional product from which we can obtain many benefits, thanks to all its properties and compounds. In this chapter we have arranged the most outstanding and advantageous ones, so you will be able to know the active principles of this component and why it is used in different industries.

Kojic acid is a healthy and natural substance, of which its benefits are still being studied. Although it has been used in product manufacturing processes for some time, it has not been possible to highlight other qualities that we will now mention.

Kojic acid as a treatment to fight skin blemishes

The reasons why kojic acid is so widely used in the cosmetic industry is due to one of the main properties it possesses, this is what makes it an active ingredient and so coveted, which is responsible for inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase that slows down the production of melanin. Which is why the skin lightener benefit is given .

The cosmetic industry has benefited from these properties to integrate it into various products and in this way bring different products to the market with the quality of natural lightener, such as creams (many brands and types), gels, lotions, color matchrs. skin and even blisters.

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While buyers have also benefited from its properties in the following way: Improving the appearance (usually of the face) against pigmentation spots (light and even dark), smoothing freckles that appear naturally (or by exposure in the sun) and unify the unicolor tone of the skin.

Kojic acid as ingredients in other products designed and manufactured by the cosmetic industry

In addition to the products mentioned above, most in presentations as creams. The cosmetic industry has also managed to benefit by implementing kojic acid in products such as soaps , scrubs, bubbles, bath salts, scented lotions and even in many sunscreens (the ideal to take advantage of its benefits).

Some companies in charge of the design and manufacture of toothpastes have benefited from its lightening properties (as a whitening agent) , incorporating this ingredient into their respective formulas. In this way, not only they, but also the buyers, have also managed to obtain pleasant positive effects.

Kojic acid as a natural antioxidant

These antioxidant properties of kojic acid are still being studied and investigated today, since it has been shown to be effective in cleaning free radicals, integrates antifungal and antibacterial properties (ideal for treating acne) and it is believed that be an anti-wrinkle and anti -cancer compound.

Kojic acid as an additive in the food or gastronomic industry

Believe it or not, kojic acid is also useful as a food addictive and the food industry has known how to benefit from this. It has been in charge of taking advantage of its properties as a natural food preservative, since it prevents the browning of fruits (mostly).

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In addition, it can prevent some foods such as meat or seafood from changing color , with this it is clear to us that although they are really different applications, the same effects or properties can provide us with benefits and be of great help in various areas . .

Kojic Acid as a natural skin softener, in addition to lightening

Kojic acid has proven to be a great product or compound for our skin when removing, or just lightening blemishes. But you should also know that we can benefit from its properties that make it a natural softener . It has been used in the production of various products whose main objective is to leave the skin soft.

This is achieved by eliminating dead cells that tend to make the skin rough, so you can remove spots and calluses from the skin just by using a product that contains kojic acid among its ingredients.

Kojic acid is not a photosensitive compound

One of the biggest and most pronounced benefits of kojic acid is that it is not a photosensitive compound, that is, it does not stain the skin when exposed to the sun’s rays. Without forgetting that the application of a good sunscreen will always be necessary for reasons already mentioned above.

Kojic acid as a compound with great antifungal properties

Kojic acid has long been believed to have some properties that can be classified as antifungal , which generate great benefits. Especially against certain conditions or fungal problems (infections) such as athlete’s foot or the appearance of fungi, and their respective consequences.

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Before using a Kojic Acid product, what can I ask my doctor?

In advance we recommend you visit a doctor and consult with him, the use of this product. Although it is a component with few risks and very everyday, it is ideal to do it first and foremost. Now, the first question you should ask is: Can I actually use kojic acid ?, since there will be factors or conditions that determine this possibility.

For this, the specialist (that is, the dermatologist) who is in charge of treating the branch of medicine pending skin conditions, will consider the case and determine relevant evidence. The most basic questions have been answered so far , as to what to know about kojic acid and its importance.

However, there are other questions that we can also answer, but it is worth consulting the doctor exactly. Here we leave you some of them, we hope they will be of help and guide when you decide to use kojic acid.

How is Kojic Acid ingested and how are the products applied?

One of the main tips is not to ingest kojic acid, the ideal is its direct application (through a product) on the skin . That is, you should only place a little of the product on the affected area and rub with gentle movements until it is compacted, we recommend doing it all over the body to ensure an equal tonality at the end.

Another way is to wash the whole body with a soap that contains it or apply some of its presentations, depending on how they are applied. In the case of bubble baths or foams, we advise you to add it and let the skin absorb it for a few minutes. For spray lotions, we recommend applying on the affected part and not removing.

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Although, there are many presentations in which we can find kojic acid and each one has its respective application instructions, the ideal is that you consult with your doctor which product and how to apply it, although by default companies belonging to the cosmetic industry usually leave these forms of use reflected.

How to use or apply Kojic Acid?

Companies in the cosmetic area use kojic acid as an ingredient to make various products , not directly. While people have used it as a natural and effective stain remover, both for ugly marks caused by acne and for those that are the product of natural burns (sun rays) or those caused (fire, in general).

It is also used to maintain the color of various foods, which ensures its freshness. Some organizations employ it in the preparation of mouthwashes, highlighting its clarifying properties and ensuring a whiter and more protected smile, the latter as a result of its antibacterial properties.

In case of omitting a dose of Kojic Acid, what happens in our skin or organism?

The application of kojic acid that is carried out by means of a commercial product (which is usually in most of its uses), does not represent very serious risks and skipping an application, or several, either. Since it will not influence in any way your overall health or body.

However, skipping certain applications delay their effects to remove stains , that is, you will not see the desired or raised results in the expected time. Since by prolonging the application you not only stop its effects, but you can also reverse the small (or large) improvements that have been achieved up to that point.

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In case of overdosing with Kojic Acid or applying in excess a product that integrates it, what should I do?

If you ingest it (which we emphasize again, it is not recommended) and an overdose occurs, the ideal is that you immediately call your family doctor or go to an emergency clinic that can treat you as soon as possible, perform a stomach wash or something procedure that they consider necessary. Don’t wait for the symptoms to go away or something worse happens.

If you have a reaction from constant and prolonged use of products that contain kojic acid, in this case it should not be called an overdose as such, although in some ways it is. That is, if you apply one of the presentations on the skin very often, without any control, it can greatly reduce the production of melanin .

Which would result in skin that is very sensitive to the sun’s rays, which is not ideal. Remember that there is nothing wrong with using these types of products based on a natural compound (such is the case of kojic acid) to treat conditions, but abusing it to maximize its benefits will not help you at all, rather it generates adverse effects .

If I am applying Kojic Acid or a product that integrates it, what should I avoid?

If you are using kojic acid or a product that integrates it, you should largely avoid unnecessary exposure to the sun’s rays . We understand that this can be almost impossible, because as human beings and we have the right to go out during the day (with or without need) and expose ourselves to these.

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However, we recommend avoiding them as much as possible, you can use some sunscreen, use an umbrella, a cap, a long-sleeved sweater or any clothing that covers you. Also, you should avoid ingesting it naturally, since logically the products that use it are not for consumption , it does not hurt to say it again.

Although, another thing that should be avoided is to use different products whose compounds have the same properties of lightening the skin and the same kojic acid. We are sure that when consulting with the dermatologist, he should tell you the same as part of the precautions and warnings.

Does Kojic Acid Affect Pregnant Women?

Each of the women who become pregnant aims to protect the little one and there is no better way to do it than knowing very well everything we eat or apply to our body . As in the case of kojic acid, if you are on a treadmill you must pay close attention to the adverse effects, but especially those that influence pregnancy.

Remember that during pregnancy, various hormonal changes occur in women’s bodies, which can stimulate the production of the well-known melanin. This results in discoloration (usually affecting the area of ​​the face), which is known among obstetricians as melasma or chloasma.

Kojic acid helps keep this production level somewhat , keeping the skin in a common (or neutral) tone. It will also be beneficial when the state of pregnancy passes, since the gradual fading of the dark skin usually occurs and this again serves as a leveler in the skin tone.

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No adverse effects or contraindications other than those that occur in anyone in general, such as irritated skin, itching, itching, rash, or rash have been shown. In this state, the intake of kojic acid is completely prohibited, however, its application can be done by these women.

Pregnant people should consult their doctor for any concerns with various products. Also, you can corroborate this information that we have provided. In addition, it is very necessary that you communicate the state in which you are, never omit it to the doctor (dermatologist), even if it is not his area as such, for him it is an essential information.

What should you do if you are applying a product that contains kojic acid and you think you are pregnant?

If you think you are on tape or find out, ideally, you notify your GP . You don’t have to strictly stop the treatment, but if you want to prevent it, you can. Kojic acid has not been shown to cause side effects greater than those already known in pregnant women, but it never hurts to check with a doctor.

You should not ingest kojic acid for any reason, as it tends to cause stomach discomfort. And although it has not been possible to verify, this could even generate malformations in the fetus. So don’t consume it, whether you suspect you’re on tape or not.

Is it safe to breastfeed while using Kojic Acid products?

After the stage of pregnancy comes the period of lactation, where concerns and precautions continue to be on the little one. The main one will always be about the products that can and cannot be eaten or used in general. In the case of kojic acid there is no difference, it is vitally important to know how it can reach and affect the baby.

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Although the cosmetic industry has been responsible for conducting various studies to determine the adverse effects and benefits that this compound, kojic acid, provides to mothers and children, not many have been established. In the case of mothers it can be given general use, but while they are breastfeeding it is better not to use it.

This is just a standard precautionary measure for any product that has not been shown to be good or dangerous in this period. As for the direct application on children, we do not recommend it much, they usually have few stains and such severe treatment is not necessary at such a young age.

Our biggest advice in this as in other cases (some already presented throughout the article) is to consult directly with a doctor, specifically a dermatologist. It will be he who determines many of the factors that have been exposed, so do not be afraid, if your doctor has not recommended it, take the first step and consult him on the use of kojic acid.

How long should I use Kojic Acid for?

Knowing exactly how long we can use a product that acts as a treatment is difficult and uncertain . Ideally, if you went to a doctor previously, it is he who takes a control (which will surely consist of scheduled consultations) and determines, evaluating progress, the date on which the use of kojic acid should end.

In case of using a cream (or other product) for advice or because you saw it in a store and it caught your attention (both things that we do not recommend), our advice is that you use the product in moderation and do not do it for a very long time. When you get the desired results, you can look for other products to help you continue.

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Can you perform a peel with kojic acid at home, steps?

A peeling is a cosmetic treatment , which is made to regenerate dead skin cells. As for kojic acid, it has been used as the main ingredient in a large number of creams, but also as one of these  peels , in this case depigmenting. With the aim of improving the appearance of the skin against blemishes.

Through the development of the article, it has been highlighted how the cosmetic industry has used kojic acid in its formulas for the production of different products (which are mostly creams). It is normal that at some point we ask ourselves: Can I perform a peel with kojic acid at home ? The answer is yes and here we tell you how, step by step.

Ingredients and preparation of the homemade peel:

To prepare this incredible peeling from home, you will only need: Distilled water (emphasizing the importance of being distilled and not mineral), a little sodium bicarbonate, powdered kojic acid (50%) will be responsible for carrying out the skin cleansing, natural moisturizer (aloe vera or rosehip oil) and 2 brushes.

For the preparation: The first thing is to place the kojic acid with half the water in a cup and mix, in another cup place the baking soda with half the remaining water. These are the mixtures that you must have previously, remember to do them just before applying them to the skin.

Mode of implementation of home peeling and recommendations:

To make it easier for you to understand we will do the following, the mixture containing kojic acid we will call ” the base ” and the second with the baking soda we will call it ” the paste “. Now, the first thing you are going to do is place the foundation on the face with a brush (from top to bottom), quickly and constantly. You must allow exactly 3 minutes to pass.

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When completed, immediately add the paste with the other brush. On the previous mixture, let another three minutes pass and remove immediately with plenty of water, make sure not to leave any traces. Lastly, you are going to refresh your face with the natural moisturizer (or another option from those presented) and let it act.

This peeling is ideal for removing stains and giving the face a continuous and uniform tone, we recommend doing it every fifteen days. While you are doing it, do not apply any product with the same properties or the same kojic acid .

What are the adverse effects and precautions about taking Kojic Acid?

Until now there have been many benefits that we can find from a compound such as kojic acid, it is used in a large part of the cosmetic industry and works very well. However, this component does not save itself from presenting various contradictions or adverse effects , although they have not proven to be severe, of which you must be very careful.

In this chapter of the article we will tell you what these negative parts of kojic acid are so that you take the respective provisions before buying it or any product that contains it, remember to use them as long as you have a prior consultation with your doctor. We can divide these side effects and contraindications as follows.

Adverse effects and contraindications of kojic acid externally

These are the possible reactions that people can present when using kojic acid externally, that is, in the body (specifically, the skin). It is common for the greatest side effects to be external because it is a compound that integrates products, which are generally used in this way. Here we leave you the most outstanding ones.

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Generally, when using this type of skin product, such as kojic acid, for very long periods of time , there is a risk that the skin progressively develops a greater sensitivity , which is remarkable. This provoked condition is commonly known by the name of dermatitis and believe it or not it is a great reaction.

Dermatitis is characterized by being a disease or condition, where the skin becomes red, a kind of irritation begins, a rash appears, among other symptoms. It is necessary to treat this in time, so if you experience any of these side effects, you must suspend the application of the product and immediately consult a dermatologist.


Before trying to use any product available on the market (especially those of a cosmetic nature), it is necessary to make sure in advance if it can generate an allergic reaction. The best way to do this is to apply the cream or ointment only once, in an area such as the wrist.

If any reaction occurs (such as the aforementioned symptom of sensitive skin), it means that you are allergic to the compound , it should be withdrawn immediately, consult your family doctor and not use again. Otherwise, you can be sure that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients.


it may be the most common side effect and almost impossible to prevent. Kojic acid is a compound that, as we know, is responsible for inhibiting the production of melanin, to which we owe its lightening effect, the problem is that this component (melanin) is responsible for protecting our skin from the harmful rays of the Sun.

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As human beings we are in constant exposure to the sun’s rays and kojic acid in a certain way, decreases the component that provides us with natural protection. Reason why, it is necessary to protect ourselves to avoid this adverse effect. Ideally, you should try to combine the products that contain it with a good and usual sunscreen.

Adverse effects and contraindications of kojic acid internally

Although they are the least common type of adverse effects, they also say present. There are not many cases that have been presented of this nature , but there are several that have been demonstrated and isolated by various experiments carried out in laboratories with animals. These suggest that high concentrations of kojic acid can cause disturbances.

Among these we can find conditions in the liver , kidney problems, damage to the reproductive system, cardiovascular diseases, difficulties in the respiratory system and discomfort in the digestive system. It should be noted that these contraindications occurred with highly concentrated doses .

However, these were also controlled to be safe (that is, they did not cause the death of individuals). Many more laboratory tests may still be necessary to rule out or add internal risks to the use of products that integrate kojic acid, and that are assimilated into humans, but prevention is never too bad.

Other contradictions, side effects, cautions and warnings

  • May generate additional stains.
  • Irritate and aggravate the stains that we seek to clarify.
  • Already most of the products are sold at a low price and the components may not be 100% natural.
  • Its ingestion is extremely dangerous for the organism.
  • Inhalation is not recommended, as it can be dangerous to health.
  • It is better to use products that contain it added, not as a base (although this is usually the case.)
  • Generate blisters.
  • If your skin is sensitive by nature, we do not recommend using it.

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  • There may be constant rashes.
  • Generate sunburn.
  • If powdered kojic acid is purchased, its purity will be different and for this there are several extra guidelines that will make it safe.
  • Various cellular mutations.
  • Internal damage to various vital organs.
  • Gastrointestinal conditions.
  • Generate dryness on the skin.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Follow the instructions and precautions that come with products (creams or ampoules) of industrial origin to the letter.
  • Consult a doctor, especially a dermatologist.
  • Do not place it near sensitive areas (eyes or open wounds).
  • Keep it out of the reach of children.
  • Do not let the little ones ingest this kojic acid.
  • Keep the products or kojic acid itself in a cool place.
  • Do not exaggerate the time of use and the recommended dose.

It is incredible that natural compounds such as kojic acid provide us with so many benefits and that we, as thinking beings, have been able to extend their presentations and make the most of each property . We must not rule out these products from our options and always know very well where they come from.

In summary, kojic acid is a substance that occurs as an ingredient in various products made and developed by the cosmetic industry. Of which we can acquire its benefits, as long as we have the respective precautions and pay attention to the adverse effects that can occur if it is used recklessly.

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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.

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