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Understanding Kojic Acid: Dr Sravya Tipirneni Explains Its Benefits For Your Skin And Why You Should Use It

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Skincare ingredients can seem confusing — its uses, the skin types it is good for, if it can be used in conjunction with other skincare ingredients, and so on. I, for one, used to be clueless about the ingredients to add to my skincare routine because picking the wrong ingredients for your skin type and concerns could wreak havoc on your skin. Not to scare you, but it’s best to understand the nitty-gritties of these actives before you add them to your everyday regime. You might’ve heard of various actives present in your skincare such as salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, and I’m sure you’ve heard of kojic acid too. But what is kojic acid, you ask? The new addition to the list of actives to incorporate in your care regime is known for its skin brightening properties. But that’s not at all - there’s more to Kojic acid than just this. To help understand this new skincare buzzword better, I reached out to dermatologist, Dr Sravya Tipirneni. Keep reading to have your questions about Kojic acid answered.

Q1. What is Kojic Acid, and how does it help your skin?

Dr Sravya: Kojic acid is a naturally occurring compound that is primarily known for its skin lightening and brightening properties. Kojic acid works by inhibiting the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for the colour of our skin, hair, and eyes. By reducing melanin production, it helps to fade dark spots, hyperpigmentation, melasma, and other forms of skin discolouration, resulting in a more even-toned complexion.

Additionally, Kojic acid possesses antioxidant properties, which can help to neutralise free radicals and protect the skin against oxidative damage. This can contribute to the overall health and youthfulness of the skin, while reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of ageing.

Q2. Which skin types and concerns can benefit from Kojic acid?

Dr Sravya: Kojic acid is beneficial for various skin types and concerns. It is particularly suitable for individuals with:

  • Hyperpigmentation - Kojic acid is highly effective in reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation, including sun spots, age spots, acne scars, and uneven skin tone caused by excessive melanin production.
  • Melasma - Melasma is a skin condition characterised by patchy, brownish discolouration on the face. Kojic acid can help to lighten melasma and even out the complexion.
  • Acne-prone skin - This active has mild antibacterial properties, which can help in reducing acne breakouts. It also aids in fading acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
  • Dull or uneven skin tone - Kojic acid can brighten the skin, giving it a more radiant and youthful appearance.

It is worth noting that individuals with sensitive skin may experience some irritation or redness when using Kojic acid. It is recommended to do a patch test before applying it to larger areas of the skin.

Q3. Are there any cons to using Kojic acid?

Dr Sravya: While this ingredient is generally considered safe and effective, there are a few potential cons to be aware of:

  • Skin irritation - Some individuals may experience skin irritation, redness, or a burning sensation when using Kojic acid. This is more common in people with sensitive skin or when using higher concentrations of the ingredient. It is advisable to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase if tolerated well.
  • Sensitivity to sunlight - Kojic acid can increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight, making it more prone to sunburn. It is essential to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF when using Kojic acid and limit sun exposure as much as possible.
  • Temporary skin lightening - Prolonged and excessive use of Kojic acid may lead to an unintended lightening of the skin beyond the desired effect. This is more likely to occur in individuals with darker skin tones. It is crucial to use Kojic acid products as directed and consult a dermatologist in case of any further concerns.

Q4. Which ingredients can Kojic acid be paired with?

Dr Sravya: Kojic acid can be combined with various other skincare ingredients to enhance its effectiveness or address specific skin concerns. One compatible ingredient that can be used with Kojic acid is Vitamin C. When combined, this blend of these active ingredients can boost the skin brightening and antioxidant effects. Vitamin C helps to further inhibit melanin production and promote collagen.

Q5. How and when should one use Kojic acid?

Dr Sravya: When using Kojic acid, it is important to follow proper usage guidelines to ensure maximum effectiveness and minimise the risk of side effects. Here's how and when one should use Kojic acid:

  • Patch test - Before applying it to your face or larger areas of the skin, perform a patch test on a small, inconspicuous area. Apply a small amount of the product and wait 24 hours to check for any signs of irritation, redness, or allergic reactions.
  • Cleanse the skin - Start by cleansing your face with a gentle, pH-balanced cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and impurities. Pat dry with a clean towel.
  • Apply a thin layer - Take a small amount of product (cream, serum, or lotion) and apply a thin, even layer to the areas of concern or the entire face, depending on the product instructions. Avoid the delicate eye area.
  • Allow it to absorb - Give the product enough time to absorb into the skin before applying any other skincare products. This usually takes a few minutes.
  • Sun protection: Due to the potential increased sensitivity to sunlight, it is crucial to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (at least SPF 30) during the day. Reapply sunscreen every two hours if exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Frequency - The frequency of using Kojic acid depends on the product and your skin's tolerance. It is generally recommended to start with a lower concentration of Kojic acid and gradually increase as tolerated. Initially, you may use it every other day or a few times a week and then adjust the usage based on how your skin responds. Follow the specific instructions provided by the product manufacturer or consult a dermatologist for personalised guidance.
  • Moisturize - Follow up with a moisturiser to keep the skin hydrated and minimise any potential dryness or irritation.
  • Be consistent - Consistency is key when using Kojic acid. It often takes several weeks to see noticeable improvements in skin tone and hyperpigmentation. Results may vary, so it's important to be patient and consistent with your skincare routine.
  • Monitor your skin: Keep an eye on how your skin reacts to Kojic acid. If you experience excessive dryness, redness, or irritation, reduce the frequency of use or discontinue use altogether. Everyone's skin is unique, and it's essential to listen to your skin's needs.

Remember to consult a dermatologist or a skincare professional if you have any concerns or specific skin conditions before incorporating Kojic acid into your skincare routine.

Nykaa recommends these Kojic acid products…

The Derma Co 1% Kojic Acid Daily Face Wash

The Derma Co 2% Kojic Acid
Face Serum

Be Bodywise 1% Kojic Acid Lotion

Deconstruct Brightening Moisturizer

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