What is Kojic Acid?

What is Kojic Acid?
Kojic acid (5-hydroxy-2-hydroxymethyl-4-pyrone for the nerds out there) is lauded in K Beauty as an anti-aging whitener and skin tone evener, capable of keeping the face skin smooth and alabaster. We love the proven utility of K Beauty ingredients, but aren't fans of their multi-step regimens. So we took the most effective ingredients, and built them into a single, simplified routine.

In biomedical studies Kojic Acid has been identified as a chelating agent (it turns a blue ferric acid solution red!), a tyrosinase inhibitor capable of stunting the production of melanin products (hence “whitening” and “evening tone” functionality), a radical-quenching antioxidant, and a prohibitor of dopa oxidation. For these reasons, we use Kojic Acid as part of our gentle yet effective Nourishing Eye Cream for guys with darker undereyes.

What does Kojic Acid mean for skincare?
In skincare products the efficacy and safety of each of these functions depends on several factors, including the concentration of Kojic Acid used, the nature of the other ingredients in the formulation —whose physical properties can alter Kojic Acid’s reactivity and skin bioavailability, among other things—and your skin’s particular microbiome and potential sensitivities. All this to say, making a direct yet generic statement about the function of Kojic Acid in skincare products is tricky. We do know that it’s safe to use, which is the most important part. We also know how it generally works: Like most skincare ingredients, the levels of Kojic Acid’s inclusion dictate the type and degree of function in the product and on the skin. At higher levels Kojic Acid is often used in combination with AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) in bleaching and chemical peels, and at lower levels as an anti-bacterial and antifungal in numerous skincare products.

We use Kojic Acid in our Nourishing Eye Cream to help reduce the visible signs of aging, namely fine lines, wrinkles, and dark under-eye bags. When applied topically, Kojic Acid is a small enough molecule to penetrate the top layers of dead skin cells and act amongst new cells. As a tyrosinase inhibitor, Kojic Acid may effectively stunt your body’s natural melanin production. Aesthetically this means it appears to even skin tone and fade dark spots. For that reason it’s often referred to as a skin “lightener.” But we didn’t just include this key ingredient for its anti-aging effect; Kojic Acid has also been shown to be an effective antioxidant and antibacterial, boosting the Nourishing Eye Cream’s preservative system, and allowing for the avoidance of parabens.

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