Kojic acid comes from mushrooms and has some pretty magical properties (for your skin, not your brain, Alice).
It’s a metabolite produced by a variety of fungi species including Penicillium, Acetobacter, Aspergillus and Shiitake, and can also be derived from plant sources as a by-product in the fermentation process of malting rice for sake.
Until about twenty years ago, kojic acid was used primarily to stop fruits from oxidizing and browning and to maintain the pink and red colors in seafood. Then some smart Japanese scientists had a revelation. Could this magical mushroom derivative do for skin what it was doing for food preservation? They gave it a try.
Numerous studies have since confirmed that their intuition was right. Today, kojic acid has earned a place in the pantheon of cosmetic ingredients for its wide range of benefits.
Skin Lightener & Brightener
This is the big one and the reason you will often see kojic acid in skin bleaching products. Kojic acid inhibits the production of tyrosinase, the enzyme required for melanin synthesis. That means it naturally lightens skin and inhibits the formation of new pigment making it highly effective in combatting melasma, hyperpigmentation, age spots and discoloration.
Kojic acid is a powerful antioxidant that provides significant protective effects against UV damage. It scavenges and neutralizes the free radicals that cause the signs of aging and shields against oxidative stress.
Kojic acid has an additional strength that takes the antioxidant factor to the next level. It’s an iron-chelating agent. (What? So much science.) Your skin contains a fair amount of iron, which, when exposed to UV radiation, get released to catalyze photo-damage and accelerate aging. Chelation is the process of binding those particles together, even in the face of UV exposure, to avoid that photo-damage. Iron chelation: kojic acid is on the job.
Kojic acid’s natural anti-bacterial properties help remove impurities and blemishes, and combat acne to keep skin clear and radiant.
An Alternative Or Enhancement To Hydroquinone
For those who find who find hydroquinone too irritating or worry that it may trigger hyperpigmentation (especially in darker skin tones), kojic acid offers an effective alternative. Those who’ve experienced success with hydroquinone will find that, when combined with kojic acid, the synergistic effect can’t be topped.
Where To Find Kojic Acid:
Vivant’s Bleaching Cream and Bleaching Serum Forté combine kojic acid with hydroquinone and vitamin A to gently exfoliate, lighten, brighten and smooth skin’s texture and tone.