Which is Better: Kojic Acid or Hydroquinone?

Kojic Acid or Hydroquinone

Do the scales tip in favor of hydroquinone or kojic acid as the best skin lightening ingredient?

Dear Nicki,

Which is better:  kojic acid or hydroquinone?


Dear M,

In a word: hydroquinone.

A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology reported kojic acid alone is less efficacious than 2% hydroquinone in treating hyperpigmentation (i.e., sun spots, uneven skin pigmentation, and the like). Kojic acid has also been found to be associated with contact allergy and has a high sensitizing potential (Dermatologic Surgery, 2001).

What about when combined with glycolic acid?

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Glycolic acid

In a review on Medscape, it was reported kojic acid and hydroquinone have the same effect on hyperpigmentation when used together with glycolic acid.  However, kojic acid was reported in the same study to be more irritating.

Why Do Any Creams Contain Kojic Acid if Hydroquinone is Better?



Two reasons.  First, kojic acid is sometimes preferred because it has greater stability in cosmetic products than hydroquinone (Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 2001). In fact, it has been affirmed hydroquinone should be stored at low temperature with the cap tightly sealed in order to preserve its effectiveness.

Secondly, kojic acid is sometimes preferred due to recent concern over a possible link between hydroquinone and ochronosis (skin darkening). According to a comprehensive review of 10000 patients, ochronosis is extremely rare, particularly for those patients with lighter skin (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2007). Still, if you have darker skin tones, you may want to consult with your dermatologist before starting any hydroquinone-based product.

Bottom Line: Use ‘Em Together!

Age_advantageHydroquinone and kojic acid both work by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme that is essential in producing skin pigment (melanin).

However, hydroquinone and kojic acid inhibit tyrosinase in two different ways (Journal of Pigment Cell Research, 2006).  Therefore, scientists have advised using both in conjunction to get the highest degree of tyrosinase inhibition.  One I recommend?  Age Advantage Laboratories Spot Life Serum ($54.98), with hydroquinone, kojic acid, and glycolic acid.

Hope this helps!


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Fragrance Review: Calvin Klein Eternity Summer

CK Eternity SummerAbout the author:  FutureDerm.com proudly welcomes Cheryl Johnson to our staff as our weekly Contributing Fragrance Expert.  For more, please visit our About page.

I was really excited to sample and review another fragrance from the Coty Prestige line; Calvin Klein Eternity Summer.

Summer is officially here in my house; my boys just finished school and that means less strict scheduling, and more free time. I have noticed they grow a lot during summer too, not sure why. Must be the combination of extra sleep, sunshine and no school- ha ha- honestly I don’t understand why we see large growth spurts over summer but I do know it’s true! As we head into Summer I look forward to all things summer… seems to be one of those times that touches all your senses and fills your head. The warm sun tingles your skin, the bright sky fills your sight, the sound of kids playing all around, snow cones and ice cream tempt your palette, and for me nothing says summer has arrived more than the aromas of the season. Where do I start?  Carnivals and the boardwalk bring cotton candy, funnel cakes and fries sprinkled with vinegar. The intoxicating smell of the beach; the sand the water the suntan lotion. It’s amazing how a scent can take you away…

SunsetAs I opened the box and took out the bottle of Eternity Summer I immediately thought of warm summer nights, the sunsets of summer. The sky still seems on fire from the hot sun that burned bright all day and as the sun slowly moves down the sky, leaving behind fire like ribbons of color as it turns to night. Clearly that is what Calvin Klein had in mind for the hue of this warm fragrance.

ETERNITY summer captures the drama of a summer sunset, as it illuminates the sky and glistens across the ocean.  (Coty Prestige)

The Notes

Top:        Orange blossom, Sparkling Sicilian Bergamot, Japanese Pear Martini Accord
Mid:        Hydroponic Gardenia, White Peony Petals, Blue Hyacinth
Base:      White Musks, Tonka bean, Heliotrope

Available at department and specialty stores nationwide beginning March 2012.

Suggested Retail Price: $58.00 3.4 oz

My nose immediately detects the orange blossom of the top notes and the white musk in the finish of the bottom notes. It’s a warm fragrance; light and bright and feminine. The gardenia, white peony and blue hyacinth oils give the scent the floral notes and combined with fruity scents of the orange blossom and Japanese pear mix to give the perfume the fruity, floral component to the scent and it finishes slightly musky with some spice which comes from the bergamot. Heliotrope in the base is also a floral essence direct from the flower with the same name pictured here: its scent is a very familiar one- we probably all would recognize from summer gardens.

I really like this scent; I sampled it in the eau de parfum spray which is second only to parfum in it’s concentration of “juice” or essential oils. I detected the scent around me at the 4 hour wear point and had to smell my pulse points at the 6 hour wear mark to detect it, which proves the point of the higher the concentration of “juice” the longer the scent lingers, the lesser concentrations of the eau de toilette I have sampled did not wear as long.

I would recommend this scent to anyone for summer wear. It’s appropriate for day or night and to me most suited for casual events.

Did you know?     A part of the olfactory system sends vibrational signals into the brain within a few synapses of smelling aromas. This system communicates directly with brain areas which affect emotion, hormonal and immune functioning.

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