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Kojic acid is a product primarily used to whiten a person’s skin. Many consumers use products containing this acid to lighten freckles and other dark spots on the skin. Although mainly used for cosmetic purposes, it also has other purposes such as preserving food color and killing certain bacteria. When used on the skin, it reduces the amount of melanin production.
In 1989, kojic acid was discovered in mushrooms in Japan. The acid is also present in other substances such as the leftover residue from fermenting Japanese rice wine. Scientists have also found this ingredient in other natural foods including soy and rice.
Many beauty products contain this acid, including soaps, lotions and creams. People apply these products to their face in hopes of lightening the skin color. It also helps skin discoloration conditions that turn the skin brown such as melasma. Some customers use this method to remove freckles, sunspots and other unsightly pigmentations. Toothpaste companies have even included this acid in some tooth whiteners.
When applying kojic acid, individuals may feel a slight stinging sensation on their skin. People who have sensitive skin could possibly get skin irritation from using products with the acid. Areas that have lotions or creams with skin whiteners on them may also burn easily in the sun.
There are other health benefits to using kojic acid as well. It is known for antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It also assists in proper food storage because it allows the food to stay fresher for longer periods. Some dermatologists prescribe kojic cream for the treatment of acne since it works on the skin and acne-causing bacteria.
Most products that include kojic acid have very small amounts of the acid. There have been concerns, however, about the use of kojic acid in large amounts or over the long term. Some of the concerns related to the carcinogenicity of this whitening product because there have been conflicting reports on animal studies. There have not been any cases related to cancer in humans from using it.
As with any product on the market, consumers should take caution when applying kojic acid on their skin. Most whitening products are generally fine for limited use on the skin but may cause skin irritation if used a long time. Dermatologists also recommend that people rotate out products if the skin becomes irritated or starts to whiten too much.