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Uses of Kojic Acid

Uses of Kojic Acid Uses of Kojic Acid

Kojic acid was discovered in the 1990s by Japanese researchers, and is used by the cosmetics industry in topical skin-lightening products. According to, it can be made from numerous mushroom species, and can also be derived during the process of fermenting rice for making sake. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) states that, in its pure form, kojic acid can be a skin irritant and can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. However, in skincare products, it is usually combined with topical corticosteroids or used in very low concentrations to neutralize its skin-irritating properties.


Kojic acid is used as an ingredient in some exfoliating and skin-lightening soaps. Usually combined with papaya extract or some type of fruit acid, these soaps buff away the top layers of the skin to reveal healthier skin underneath, while the kojic acid lightens any skin discoloration or dark pigmentation.

Creams and Lotions

Another topical kojic acid use comes in the form of lotions and creams specifically designed to lighten skin color. Before the discovery of kojic acid, hydroquinone was the primary ingredient in skin-bleaching products, but hydroquinone's potentially severe side effects--including skin dryness and cracking, and dangerous allergic reactions, according to making kojic acid a more viable skin-bleaching ingredient to skincare manufacturers.

Medical Uses

The most common medical use for kojic acid is in the treatment of melasma, a common skin condition, which according to the American Academy of Dermatology, affects mostly women (90 percent of cases) and involves the formation of brown or grayish-brown patches of skin on the face, including the cheeks, forehead, upper lip, the bridge of the nose and the chin. It can also form on the forearms and neck.

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