Kojic acid is a chelation agent produced by several species of fungi, especially Aspergillus oryzae, which has the Japanese common name koji. Kojic acid is a by-product in the fermentation process of malting rice, for use in the manufacturing of sake, the Japanese rice wine. It is a mild inhibitor of the formation of pigment in plant and animal tissues, and is used in food and cosmetics to preserve or change colors of substances. It forms a bright red complex with ferric ions.
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Kojic acid Function
Kojic acid, a product derived from several species of fungi, kojic acid is known to limit melanin production -- the substance that gives skin its color. Consequently, kojic acid is a common ingredient in skin lightening or depigmenting products. Kojic acid can cause some side effects, particularly for those with sensitive skin. However, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel has determined concentrations up to 1 percent kojic acid are considered safe to use in cosmetics, as published in the November-December 2010 issue of “International Journal of Toxicology.”
Kojic acid Safety Issues
Extensive animal studies have been completed on the safety of kojic acid, as this substance can be absorbed through the skin and kojic acid is also used as a food additive. According to the review published in “International Journal of Toxicology,” animal research has linked kojic acid to cell mutation and weak carcinogenic effects. However, this published report of the CIR Expert Panel, an independent trade association that reviews the safety of cosmetic products, concluded skin products with 1 percent or lower kojic acid concentrations pose no human safety issues -- in part due to the insignificant absorption into the human body.
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