Hydroquinone vs Kojic Acid

Hydroquinone was discovered on 1820 by two French chemists. But before it became today’s go-to whitening agent, the chemical’s primary function was to develop photographs. It was not until 1978 that the FDA approved its use for topical applications.

Since then, the cosmetic industry makes most of hydroquinone’s skin whitening prowess. Science can point out how hydroquinone is inarguably effective when it comes to whitening skin. Hydroquinone blocks an enzyme called ‘tyrosinase’, which is responsible for spreading pigmentation from pigment-producing cells to other skin cells.

Bleaching treatments and a myriad of skin whitening products contain at least 2% – 4% hydroquinone to be effective.But as years have gone by, hydroquinone has become increasingly associated with negative health effects and has been banned in numerous countries. Fortunately, recent studies have found a replacement to hydroquinone, and that is no other than Kojic Acid.

Kojic Acid was discovered a century later after hydroquinone, but its wealth of skincare benefits was not unraveled until recent years. Since then, Kojic Acid stole away the spotlight from hydroquinone and has become one of the most in-demand ingredients for skin whitening. So, what makes Kojic Acid so great that its benefits surpasses that of hydroquinone’s?

Hydroquinone Vs Kojic Acid

When it comes to skin whitening, there is no trouble as to which is which, but the fact remains that your body is composed of living organs that can be affected by multiple factors. Here are the reasons why Kojic Acid is always a better choice.

1. Temporary Side Effects

For those who have sensitive skin, minor irritations such as skin tightening and itching may arise during the first week of using Kojic Acid. Regardless, this is normal as Kojic Acid softens a hefty accumulation of dead skin tissues to reveal the awaiting fresh layer of healthy cells. From then on, Kojic Acid will assist in the normal exfoliation of the skin.

Hydroquinone, on the other hand, can cause more than just minor irritations. It can bring allergic reactions such as dermatitis, mouth swelling, asthma, and hives. According to Drugs.com, hydroquinone should never be used on dry skin or sensitive skin. A product that contains 4% hydroquinone is already too potent for most people.

2. Complications for Long-term Use

The possible complications for long-term use of hydroquinone includes liver and kidney damage, which is no surprise since both the liver and kidneys are the two main filtering systems of the body. As some studies suggested, hydroquinone has produced liver and kidney tumors among animal test subjects. Likewise, it also imposes growth retardation in fetuses; hence, pregnant women should stay clear from hydroquinone-based cosmetics. As for Kojic Acid, you can use it as long as you want without worrying about deadly consequences. After all, Kojic Acid is organic.

3. Counter-productive Results

Even if you succeed in whitening your skin using a certain hydroquinone product, the result is often an unhealthy pasty look rather than the young luminous complexion you deserve. Know that hydroquinone works by killing your skin’s pigmented cells as well as degenerate collagen and elastin fibers; thus, it adds years to your skin. As you get older, the effects become more pronounced.

Furthermore, long-term use of hydroquinone is also associated with exogenous ochronosis, which is a skin disorder characterized by bluish dark pigmentations, small lumps, and thickening of the skin. This defeats the purpose which you want to achieve in the first place.

4. Cancer Risks

Kojic Acid is far from becoming an agent of cancer, but hydroquinone, on the other hand, remains a moot point among European and American researchers. Hydroquinone has not been directly linked to cancer since the tests were applied to mice. No human test subject is needed to determine the accuracy of such claims. It is common sense that hydroquinone clearly shows serious side effects. 

5. Stability

hydroquinone vs kojic acid soap

Hydroquinone products can bring conflicting results when you use other cosmetics, particularly one that contains benzoyl peroxide for treating acne or other oxides for that matter. Likewise, there are just so many industrial chemicals one should look out for in hydroquinone products and that includes parabens, fragrance, steroids, etc. 

On the contrary, Kojic Acid doesn’t need artificial preservatives to resist oxidation or for it to last long. Such is notable for its stability and shelf-life. Likewise, Kojic Acid can blend perfectly with other natural ingredients to boost its efficacy such as collagen, papaya, glutathione, and so forth. Apart from its whitening effects, Kojic Acid also fights off bacteria, prevents fungal infections, and promotes wound healing. It’s simply a stand-alone ingredient.


Using hydroquinone products is indeed tempting, especially since it promises instantaneous results. Hydroquinone won’t be called the ‘miracle’ skin whitening ingredient if it wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, its list of disadvantages outweighs the benefits it offers. Many countries have already banned the use of hydroquinone. Hence, that should be enough as a red flag.

Kojic Acid is currently the best’s option we have, and surely will remain so for the years to come. It is organic and equally effective as hydroquinone. Although it doesn’t work as fast as hydroquinone, dramatic results can be seen within two weeks at most. Know that one of the best things about Kojic Acid is that it’s safe for long-term use. After all, the last thing you want is to face counterproductive results in the future that may render your efforts futile today.

If you are interested in finding our more about the best brands of Kojic Acid soap, we wrote a very incisive post here. If you are looking to purchase Kojic Acid skin whitening products, we highly recommend visiting the Sublime Skin Lab.

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