Everything You Need To Know About Kojic Acid For Skin 

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It seems like everywhere you look there are a whole host of new, natural ingredients and products to try. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about it. I think it’s truly wonderful that Mother Nature’s ingredients are finally getting the attention that they deserve. 

With that in mind, I’ve been hearing (and seeing!) a lot about kojic acid products. Rumors about how they help brighten your skin and lighten your complexion for an even and glowing appearance. I wanted to find out for myself, so here’s the low-down on whether this ingredient really can cure your skin pigmentation woes and beyond (spoiler alert: it probably can!). Before we get carried away on the technicalities, let’s take a deep dive into what exactly kojic acid is. 

What Is Kojic Acid?

So you’ve seen this ingredient touted on popular skin care products but what exactly is it? Kojic acid is a chemical that is derived from various fungi. It’s also sometimes created through the sake brewing process of fermented rice. The main function of kojic acid is to inhibit and prevent tyrosine from forming. A study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology reveals that tyrosine is an amino acid that’s necessary for the production of melanin which is a pigmentation for hair and skin. 

It’s with this property in mind that kojic acid is often used in beauty products to lighten your skin. Now, with the somewhat controversial topic of skin bleaching etched into our memories, some of you might be wondering whether kojic acid is really safe for use? Although it’s an “acid” by name, kojic acid is safe to use in moderation. It’s not designed to lighten your overall skin tone, but target specific problem areas. To this end, it’s ideally used as a supporting ingredient, infused into your products to help fade discoloration naturally.  

Effects Of Skin Bleaching On Skin

Back view of woman applying moisturizing lotion to skin.

Woman with pigmentation.

With the rise of natural beauty, many of us are searching for ways to get clear and glowing skin without the need for numerous skin care products and makeup tricks. To this end, an uneven skin tone and dark spots can be a nuisance. Skin bleaching or lightening is just one way that you can resolve the issue, although it’s gained some controversy along the way. When you apply skin bleaching products to your face or skin they work to decrease melanin production in the skin. 

Previously, skin beaching has been associated with a myriad of adverse skin effects including steroid acne and exogenous ochronosis, which is why more natural alternatives were a high priority in the skin care industry. And boy, have they delivered. Alongside kojic acid, other skin lightening natural alternatives including lemon essential oil and glycolic acid. These are also great ways to naturally lighten skin for a glowing complexion. 

Kojic Acid Products Explained

In skin care products, kojic acid is used as a fading and lightening treatment. It helps to treat age spots, scars, and reverse the visible signs of sun damage. It also helps to reduce hyperpigmentation and discoloration. So, who should be using kojic acid-infused products? Anyone who has specific discoloration concerns would benefit from this ingredient. 

That being said, it’s a potent substance. If your skin is on the sensitive side, you might want to start by incorporating it in small doses, bi-daily into your night routine. You can expect slight inflammation at the beginning. This is similar to what you would expect from let’s say a retinol treatment for example. However, if irritation continues it might mean that this product is too potent for your particular skin type. 

Kojic Acid Serum Breakdown

Hand holding serum dropper.

Facial serum with dropper.

Kojic acid is commonly used in lotions and creams, but arguably the easiest way to incorporate kojic acid into your routine is through a kojic acid serum. The main thing to consider when it comes to this kind of serum is the percentage of concentration within the serum. The standard concentrations are between 1 and 4 percent. 

Generally speaking, it’s best to start with a lower concentration to see how your skin reacts first. After trying a patch test and ensuring there are no side effects, you can incorporate this serum into your evening skin care routine between your toner and your moisturizer. It’s important to note that kojic acid has a relatively poor absorption rate so you might have to give it a little time between the serum and moisturizer steps. 

Kojic Acid Soap Breakdown 

Two handmade soaps.

Essential oil infused kojic acid soap.

The skin lightening qualities of kojic acid are gradually being harnessed beyond uses for the face. Kojic acid soap is a trending cleansing hand soap that not only aims to cleanse and hydrate your skin but also remove skin pigmentation and dark spots from your hands. 

The truth is that some people use this bar soap alternative as a body soap for the whole body, but I wouldn’t suggest it for the simple reason we mentioned before – kojic acid targets specific problem areas. As soon as you start to use it as an all-over treatment you minimize the effectiveness and are unlikely to see substantial results. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule though. It’s highly dependant on how your skin reacts with kojic acid. For some people, kojic acid soap can be their cure-all solution to pigmentation and for others, a serum or targeting cream would be the way to go. 

Kojic Acid Before And After 

If you’re experiencing skin pigmentation or dark spots, then it looks like a kojic acid serum would be worthwhile trying. Typically, after regular topical application, you should be able to see results after two weeks. If you’re combining the kojic acid with other natural skin lightening ingredients or treatments such glycolic acid you may notice faster or more pronounced results. That being said, if you notice any itching, redness, or discomfort, it’s important to discontinue use. This is because kojic acid is potent and may be too harsh on some skin types. 

Kojic acid soap on the other hand is usually a little more diluted meaning it’s less likely to result in a reaction on your skin. Nevertheless, if kojic acid soap results in irritation, it may not be the right skin lightening solution for you. It’s in cases like these that it’s important to remember that just because a clean ingredient is trending, doesn’t mean it’s now the only solution for your skin care needs. Shop around for what works for you. Just make sure to stay away from the usual nasties and hidden culprits. You want to ensure your body is getting the best results! 


If you’re looking to lighten your skin with an on-trend natural ingredient, kojic acid is definitely worth a try. An uneven skin tone may not be your biggest concern. But when a serum is all it takes for an even and glowing complexion, you can sign me up! Just keep in mind that it’s not a solution for lightening your natural skin color. It works to target specific skin concerns. 

If you’re looking for another natural solution to achieve a skin bleaching effect, don’t forget that there other viable natural solutions on offer. That’s the beauty of Mother Nature and clean ingredients. There are numerous options that will nourish your skin from the inside out. So you can ensure that your skin is really living its best life, with none of the nasties!

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