Thankfully, that’s where kojic acid comes in.
“Kojic is a gentle acid with some antimicrobial properties that can help acne,” says Carmen Castilla, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital. While its gentle nature makes it a great option for treating butt-ne without irritation (especially for those with sensitive skin), it’s worth noting that its antimicrobial properties are on the weaker side—which means it will work better combined with other acne-fighting ingredients as opposed to as a standalone treatment.
The real reason to add kojic acid into your routine, though, is to help with the post-pimple pigmentation that can appear after a butt breakout has cleared up. “Kojic acid is often used to treat pigmentary issues such as melasma,” says Dr. Castilla. “It blocks a certain enzyme that produces pigment allowing it to lighten the skin.” Additionally, she says that kojic acid has antioxidant properties that neutralize free radicals, so it helps to protect the skin overall.
For best results, Kaia Naturals founder Mary Futher (AKA Madame Sweat), recommends supplementing your usual butt-ne fighting routine with a lather-and-rinse using kojic acid soap. Simply scrub your cheeks for 20 seconds in the shower, rinse, and repeat regularly until things clear up.
As mentioned, this process should be done in addition to, not instead of, the rest of your butt-ne fighting regimen. Because butt acne isn’t one size fits all—it has a number of different causes, including clogged hair follicles, friction, and keratosis pilaris—it tends to require a multi-pronged treatment approach.
“Generally, most dermatologists will recommend benzoyl peroxide wash or a salicylic acid wash as first-line treatments,” says Dr. Castilla (you can use these on the days you aren’t using your kojic acid soap). From there, you can follow up with an exfoliating moisturizer, and your pimples—and the discoloration that comes along with them—will be on their way out.
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