In skin care products, kojic acid functions primarily as a skin-lightening agent. When kojic acid is applied to the skin in concentrated amounts, the chemicals in the ingredient work on the melanocytes, interfering with the production of melanin. The exact way in which kojic acid lessens melanin production is not known, but many experts believe that the ingredient prevents an enzyme known as tyroinase from beginning the reactions in the cells that are necessary for manufacturing the pigment. Kojic acid is also an antibacterial agent, meaning that it interferes with the processes that bacteria cells must perform to thrive and reproduce.
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