Can kojic acid lighten skin and remove pigmentation?


Have you ever tried sake or used soy sauce in your food? If you have, then it will be interesting to find out that one of the by-products of making them is kojic acid. It turns out this one has particular benefits for those spots, scars and pigmentation on your skin!

What does kojic acid do?

Now, this is going to get wordy, so prepare yourself! Let’s break this down. Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps produce melanin. But what is melanin? Well, it is the pigment that brings colour to your skin, eyes and hair. A build-up of melanin in a particular part of your skin can cause your skin to darken or leave spots. This is where Kajoic acid comes into the picture. It prevents tyrosine from forming, thereby reducing the melanin build-up and lightning spots. Wooh! Glad we got that out of the way. Now we can get to the fun part!

How kojic acid can do wonders for your skin.

Kojic acid has many uses for the skin. Let us have a look at some of them.

Reducing Hyperpigmentation

Thanks to that complicated explanation of what kojic acid does, we now know that it plays a role in reducing pigmentation in the skin. Made out of certain types of fungi, it helps to lighten discoloured skin caused by hormonal changes, medications, sun exposure and ageing.

Scar and spot reduction

Kojic acid also helps reduce the appearance of scars, spots and other marks by lightening the skin. It cannot, however, altogether remove scars. It can only lighten them, so their appearance diminishes.

Pregnancy melasma

During pregnancy, it is common for women to get dark spots on their body and face. This is called melasma. Kojic acid can help reduce these dark patches and lead to a happier pregnancy!

Bacteria warrior!

Kojic acid has antifungal and antibacterial properties that can help with skin infections like yeast infections, acne, ringworm etc.

Other properties of kojic acid.

Apart from the above, kojic acid also has anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, antioxidant and anti-viral properties. What else could we possibly need?

Alert! Kojic acid might have some side effects.

Now, it seems pretty smooth as an ingredient for skincare. However, this little ingredient comes with its own precautions and side effects. Let’s have a look.


Allergies are a possibility with any skincare ingredient. It is possible to be allergic to anything, even kojic acid. That is why we recommend you conduct a patch test before using any products with this in them.

Contact dermatitis

Some side effects of this acid can be itching, irritation, burning and redness. This is also known as contact dermatitis. Stop using the product if this manifests and also visit a dermatologist.


Long term use of kojic acid can lead to an increase in your skin’s sensitivity and cause more sunburns and other exposure. Never forget your daily SPF!

We don’t know for sure, but…

There is no proper evidence of this, but some countries have banned it because of a possible link to cancer. There is, however, no proven data about this as of now.

Ten things to keep in mind when using kojic acid

1. Do not use it on damaged skin or irritated skin.

2. We do not recommend its use for people with sensitive skin.

3. Do not use a product with more than 2 % of kojic acid in it, as this is the maximum safe limit.

4. Speak to your doctor before adding this ingredient to your skincare regime.

5. Always read the product label and follow the instructions accordingly, as you can leave some creams or serums on, while you need to wash other ones off.

6. We do not recommend using it in its raw form despite it being available.

7. When diluting it, ensure that the mixture has only about 1 – 2% of kojic acid.

8. Do not add kojic acid to your existing creams and products, as this can lead to varying levels and cause irritation to the skin.

9. You can use it between once and twice a day. However, do not use it more than that.

10.  You should apply sunscreen on your skin whenever you are using any acid-based products.


The remedies mentioned in the blog are the widely popular ones. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. Avoid using these if you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies. 

Before trying any remedy, always test a small quantity on your skin to check for any adverse reactions or allergy to any particular ingredient. In case of emergency or any reaction, immediately connect with a doctor who can offer the proper treatment.


1. Can Kajoic acid lighten my skin?

No, it cannot lighten your natural skin tone. It can only lighten pigmentation and dark spots or patches that appear on your natural skin tone.

2. What kind of products is kojic acid used in?

People use this ingredient in dental care products, whitening or dark spot removal, skin care products and anti-ageing products.

3. Can Kojic acid permanently lighten skin?

No. As mentioned before, it cannot permanently lighten your natural skin tone, but it can lighten pigmentation caused by other factors.

4. Is Kojic acid terrible for your skin?

It is not necessarily bad for the skin, but you should use it with caution. It is best to use it under the supervision of a dermatologist. This is due to the possible side effects that it can have.



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Namya Naresh

An obsessive dreamer, vegetarian foodie and shy singer, Namya spends her time immersed in the world of Literature and Music. She is currently writing her first novel, advocating for mental health, self-love and bringing you your daily dose of skincare with CureSkin!