Kojic acid is a substance produced by certain Japanese mushrooms. It is also a by-product of the fermentation process utilized in making sake (Japanese rice wine.) It is often found in scar therapies thanks to its ability to lighten skin, including dark scars and other dark spots. However, kojic acid is a potentially dangerous ingredient and individuals considering a scar therapy cream containing kojic acid should learn more about its dangers before deciding to use it.
The short answer to the question, “Does Kojic Acid Work on Acne Scars?” is yes – but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Like hydroquinone, kojic acid can lighten dark scars and spots and even improve melasma (a skin discoloration associated with pregnancy and oral contraceptive use), but its effectiveness is limited to the dark pigment of scars and it does not address other scar needs such as flattening, softening, or reducing in any way other than lightening. In addition, studies suggest some potentially serious health effects.
Heightened Skin Sensitivity and Allergic Reactions: Skin Deep, a database of thousands of cosmetics and their safety profiles, cites kojic acid as moderately to highly hazardous as a cosmetic ingredient, pointing to concerns such as allergies, increased skin sensitivity, and possible hormone disruption. Skin sensitization is a problem because it can result in allergic contact dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis can cause bumps or a rash, pain, itching, blisters, and dry patches of skin. Its symptoms may mimic those of contact with poison ivy.
Increased Risk of Sun Damage: Kojic acid may also make your skin more vulnerable to sun damage. That’s because it can weaken your skin’s natural defense against harmful UV rays by reducing the amount of melanin present.
Lack of Research: Another problem with kojic acid is the lack of substantial research done to confirm its safety. Some studies suggest a possible link to cell mutation and tumor formation in mammals. Animal studies show kidney, liver, cardiovascular, respiratory, and other side effects, and extensive enough research has not been done to prove its safety for humans.
Because of these concerns, kojic acid is best avoided in scar therapies and other cosmetics. Fortunately, there is no need to trade value for safety. Look for a scar therapy that contains ingredients known to be effective and safe, such as:
Dimethicone Silicone: Promotes hydration and improves the appearance of the scar, including color and size.
Vitamin C: Normalizes collagen and lightens the scar.
ProBiosyn-4: Restores the lipid biolayer, improving hydration and skin elasticity and reducing scar visibility.
Besides kojic acid, other ingredients you should avoid in your scar therapy because they are unsafe or ineffective include hydroquinone, vitamin E, preservatives (including parabens), and fragrances. Also beware of ingredients that, while not necessarily unsafe, may have no scar healing benefits at all, such as petroleum jelly and onion extract.
Along with your scar therapy, be sure to avoid smoking, get plenty of exercise, and consume fruits, vegetables, protein, and other healthy foods for optimal scar healing.
Have a question about your scar? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.
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