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I confess to approaching Medik8 White Balance Click ($80 in the shop) with trepidation. I am not courageous when it comes to testing ingredients that are known irritants and with a controversial – even if winning – pedigree. Kojic acid, the star of the show in Medik8’s anti-hyperpigmentation treatment, makes me a little nervous. But Medik8’s products are usually so well formulated that I decided to give White Balance Click a try and after six weeks I can say that we have, well, clicked.
Kojic acid isn’t just the star of the show. It is a diva with a personal limo and the largest dressing room. Well at least its own personal ante-chamber. White Balance Click has rather fancy packaging that stores the kojic acid in a special compartment that keeps it separate from the solution. By clicking on the top on the 10ml bottle, the kojic acid (a white powder) is released into the solution. To further minimize its degradation, there are two 10ml bottles so that you only click and pop open the second when the first is finished and you are ready for kojic acid’s encore.
Kojic acid, which is derived from fungi, inhibits the essential enzyme in the biosynthesis of the skin pigment melanin. It is a proven skin whitener and there are studies that have shown significant improvement amongst almost all trial participants. It has to be said that the trials took place over a year. So even kojic acid isn’t to be regarded as a quick fix.
The problem with kojic acid is that it is regarded as highly irritating to the skin and there is some animal data suggesting weak tumor promotion. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) says it is "not classifiable/not likely to be human carcinogen." So that’s a relief. But before you get too sanguine, know that the European Union “the use of Kojic acid at a maximum concentration of 1.0% in skincare formulations poses a risk to the health of the consumer.”
When the kojic acid joins the solution, it mingles with several other actives. Medik8 says that there are seven mechanisms that cause skin discoloration or hyperpigmentation and there is an active ingredient here to tackle each one: alpha-arbutin, niacinamide, Sepiwhite, l-lactic acid, linoleic acid, l-leucine, and n-acetyl glucosamine. Alpha arbutin is found in bearberry and is a form glucoside and, actually, a hydroquinone but much less irritating to the skin. Also worth a call-out is Sepiwhite, which has a novel way of controlling melanin and a molecular structure that enables it to target melanocytes located in the lower layers of the epidermis.
Medik8 White Balance did not irritate my skin at all and I used it twice a day as directed. It is a light, colorless gel that absorbs easily. I used it to target a leopard spot on my right cheek and some freckles lower down and on one on my hand. I can’t say any inroads have been made into the leopard spot (but then I’ve had it most of my life and I’m fairly reconciled to us spending the rest of it together), but the freckles have very noticeably faded.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Lactic Acid, Kojic Acid, Alpha Arbutin, Acetyl Glucosamine, Polysorbate 20, Alcohol, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine, Sodium Hylauronate, Niacinamide, Leucine, Linoleic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Cananga Odorata Leaf Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite, Propyl Gallate, Cinnamomum Camphora (Camphor) Bark Oil, Dehydroacetic Acid, Linalool