Can You use Kojic Acid and Azelaic Acid?

Can You use Kojic Acid and Azelaic Acid?

When it comes to skincare ingredients, there are a few actives that are cult-favourites that everyone seems to use in their daily routine. On the other hand, there are under the radar actives that are well established in the beauty industry but haven’t gained a household name or reputation yet. The focus of today’s blog post are two underdogs, azelaic acid and kojic acid. What exactly can these ingredients provide for the skin and how can you use them together?

This next section we’ll explain the benefits of these ingredients and how to incorporate them effectively into your daily skincare routine. 

What is kojic acid?

Kojic acid is one of the lesser known chemical exfoliants found in the group of AHAs. It’s a by-product of several types of fungi and fermented foods, such as soy sauce, rice wine, and Japanese sake. Has the ability to prevent an amino acid, known as tyrosine, which is responsible for the production of melanin. This results in kojic acid being one of the most effective brightening and lightening acids. Those who have a concern with sun damage, age spots, hyperpigmentation, and areas of melasma. You’ll also find kojic acid is an effective ingredient for combating breakouts and acne because of its antibacterial properties. As powerful as kojic acid is at targeting acne and areas of pigmentation, you’ll find it can be cause increased skin irritation, especially if you have a dry skin type that’s prone to sensitivity.

Due to its high potency, you’ll find kojic acid in various formulations with a concentration of 1 percent or less. This high percentage results in this active working effectively when applied to the skin occasionally and for a fleeting amount of time mainly on the hands and face. Depending on the product formulation will determine how kojic acid is used on the skin. Some formulas, such as a soaps, cleansers, and face washes will contain effective amounts of the acid and should be rinsed off the skin immediately. As for products that remain on the skin for prolonged amounts of time, you’ll find that kojic acid will give limited results because of its poor absorption into the lower layers of the skin.

If you wanted to find out more about kojic acid, you can find out more about the powerhouse over on The Beauty Insiders. 

What is azelaic acid?

Often confused as an AHA, this dicarboxylic acid is derived from grains, such as barley, wheat, and rye. Packed with antibacterial, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties azelaic acid is a highly effective ingredient to combat concerns with acne, uneven skin texture, hyperpigmentation and many more.

Azelaic acid works at sloughing away the top layer of the skin and the build-up of dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria, and other impurities. All of which lead to blemishes, such as blackheads, flaky patches of skin, and signs of premature ageing are exaggerated with fine lines and wrinkles appearing more noticeable.

Known for being one of the gentlest acids, azelaic acid can be used effectively by those with a sensitive skin type. Azelaic acid also has a unique trait of working particularly well for those with a darker skin tone. The powerful acid targets signs of pigmentation in black or darker skins without the increased risk of sensitivity and irritation.

There is more to learn about azelaic acid over on The Beauty Insiders, where we have a few blog posts about its benefits, how it works on the skin, and the best ingredients to use together.

Can you use kojic acid and azelaic acid?

You can, but only if you apply them correctly on the skin. Both acids have similar pH levels both of which are more acidic and can alter the skin’s natural pH level resulting in irritation and a weakened skin barrier leading to skin damage. There are a couple different ways of using kojic acid and azelaic acid, here are examples of combining them effectively.

  1. Leave about 30 minutes in between applications

Leaving this amount of time will allow the skin and pH levels to settle ensuring you avoid any unwanted side effects or irritation. Ideally, I would suggest using them both in the evening as this will limit the exposure to further free radical damage, such as UV rays, pollution, and harsh weather climates.

  1. Alternate the days you apply each acid

By alternating the day, you apply each acid will help you receive optimal results without the risk of irritation. Again, I would suggest leaving it for the evening to apply the acids to the skin for the peace of mind you’ll avoid increased itching and irritation.

  1. Apply them during different times of day

Instead of alternating the days, you can apply each acid during a different time of day. Start by using azelaic acid during your morning routine, not forgetting your SPF for added protection, this will allow the gentler acid to work on the skin throughout the day. You can follow this in the evening with kojic acid, which is more potent and more likely to cause irritation with UV exposure.

Much like all skincare ingredients, it is important to ensure your skin will benefit from a new addition into your routine. Therefore, it’s vital you consult with a doctor or dermatologist before using any new ingredients or formulas.

Is kojic acid an AHA?

Yes, it certainly is, although not as well-known as glycolic acid or lactic acid. Kojic acid works on the surface of the skin by sloughing away the build-up of dead skin cells, dirt, and debris. By doing this, new, vibrant skin is revealed leaving the complexion glowing, healthy, and skin barrier strengthened and able to protect itself from further skin damage. It is also able to work its way into the lower layers of the dermis unclogging the pores of excess sebum and bacteria build-up helping with the clarity and overall health of the complexion.

The final trait of kojic acid is the fact it inhibits the amino acid to overproduce melanin causing signs of melasma and hyperpigmentation to become darker. Kojic acid is a highly effective brightening ingredient, but can cause increased irritation, especially after it performs its chemical exfoliation to the skin surface. Therefore, as I have already stressed, it is vital you apply a daily SPF for added sun protection.

There you have a little more information about the lesser-known acids and the benefits they have on the skin. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch over on our Instagram.


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