Kojic Acid, the Alternative to Hydroquinone

Getting rid of hyperpigmentation is a major concern for many women with darker skin. So I wasn't surprised to see a lot of kojic acid skincare on Jumia Kenya.

In skincare, kojic acid is a brightening ingredient got from mushrooms or as a by product of fermenting rice to make sake - Japanese rice wine.

It's in a lot of Japanese brightening skincare, which is great for those who prefer kojic acid to hydroquinone for getting rid of dark spots and uneven tone.

So is it safer than hydroquinone?

Well, hydroquinone is safe too - under medical supervision.

If you are of African, Middle Eastern, South Asian/Indian or Hispanic descent, you need a dermatologist to prescribe hydroquinone and give you instructions to avoid ochronosis.

Ochronosis is a condition where the skin is permanently darkened after hydroquinone misuse.

You don't have to worry about ochronosis with kojic acid.  With kojic acid, you need to think about sensitivity.

Kojic acid is extremely effective at brightening, but potentially very irritating, and should be used in concentrations of 1-3%. If you have sensitive skin, I wouldn't recommend kojic acid.

Even if your skin isn't sensitive, incorporate mild (1% or less) kojic acid skincare in your routine slowly - once or twice a week, at night, to reduce chances of irritation. Build up usage slowly.

La Roche Posay Mela D Pigment serum or the Mario Badescu Whitening Mask would be great options to start with.

Alright, how should I include kojic acid in my routine?

A combination treatment of glycolic acid and kojic acid would be ideal to treat dark spots. In a PM routine, that could look like:

  1. Wash with a gentle cleanser and then tone with COSRX AHA.

  2. Apply a serum like La Roche Posay Mela D then your brightening moisturizer of choice.

  3. If you're not a serum-y kinda person, follow up the toner with a kojic acid moisturizer like Kikumasamune Lotion

  4. If the treatment is for your body, Alpha Skincare has an exfoliating body lotion. You can alternate between the Kikumasamune (it works on body too) with the Alpha, or combine the two. Whatever works for you.

  5. If you want to effectively brighten your skin, always use plenty of SPF. A broad spectrum sunscreen like this would do.

After 2+ months, you would notice the discoloration reducing.

Do the popular kojic acid soaps work?

It depends. A common problem with using kojic acid  soaps is that they are too drying. Many prefer using hydrating kojic acid toners and serums instead.

Kojic acid is a great alternative to hydroquinone. But just like with any skin treatment, make sure to test for irritation.

Have you tried any of the kojic acid skincare on Jumia before? Let me know.