Kojic Acid Peel: The Ultimate Guide

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on May 8, 2024

Kojic acid peel is a popular skin-brightening treatment that can help with issues like sun damage, uneven skin tone, and acne scars. Let’s explore how.

kojic acid peel

Image source: Instagram @skinesteem

In the world of skincare, there are so many products and treatments promising a brighter, smoother complexion – a lot of them based on vitamin C or glycolic acid. But one of the most potent ingredients is often overlooked and that’s kojic acid.

This ingredient has been traditionally used in Asia for achieving flawless, glass-looking skin. In fact, it’s often referred to as the best Asian beauty secret for treating dark spots.

So let’s see what makes kojic acid peel different from other chemical peeling treatments and whether it’s the right treatment for your needs.

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What Is Kojic Acid Peel?

Kojic acid is a naturally-derived ingredient. It comes from certain fungi, notably Aspergillus oryzae, often used in the Japanese food industry. But, due to this ingredient’s antimicrobial properties, it’s also used in the skincare industry.

It’s most well-known for its ability to inhibit the production of melanin, which is the pigment that’s responsible for our skin coloration.

So, because of its ability to really penetrate the layers of your skin and stop the production of melanin, kojic acid peel is usually advertised as a spot-fading treatment.

This characteristic is the main difference between kojic acid peel and other chemical peels because, unlike other acids that work by dissolving the bonds between the cells and exfoliating the skin, kojic acid works by inhibiting pigment production.

Still, it is a chemical peel – an AHA to be exact – not an enzyme. You can learn more about enzyme peels here.

The concentration of kojic acid in the peel solution can vary depending on the individual’s skin type and the severity of the skin condition being treated, but it’s rarely used in high concentrations.

Most of the time it’s mixed with other peeling solutions (more on that later).

before and after kojic acid peelImage source: @beautyboxbymaggie

What Does Kojic Acid Peel Do for Skin?

Other than helping brighten and even out skin tone, kojic acid also has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and exfoliating properties. Plus it’s safe and well-tolerated on the face and body even by sensitive skin types, so it can be used by pretty much anyone.

Here are the most common skin conditions kojic acid skin peel is used for:

Kojic Peel for Hyperpigmentation

The main benefit of kojic peel is that it inhibits an enzyme necessary in the production of melanin, helping fade dark spots and even out skin tone.

This means kojic acid peel is very effective in fighting hyperpigmentation of any kind – sun damage, melasma, acne, hyperpigmentation triggered by hormonal changes, injury, or post-inflammatory pigmentation.

It can also help lighten dark pigmentation associated with certain types of scars, making them appear less noticeable.

Kojic Peel for Skin Brightening

By inhibiting melanin production, the peel helps brighten the skin, leading to a more luminous and even complexion. But this brightening effect is also used to treat discoloration on different body parts, mainly underarms, inner thighs, elbows, knees, etc.

@sifaclinic DipoWhite 🌟 DipoWhite is een behandeling (peeling) voor het oplichten van de huid. Onmiddellijk een helderder huid in 15 minuten! Tijdens de behandeling wordt de huid behandeld met een hoge concentratie kojic peeling waardoor de huid wordt geëgaliseerd. - Geschikt voor alle huidtypes - Geschikt voor donkere plekken op intieme zone, oksels, ellebogen en knieën - Zichtbaar resultaat na 1 behandeling Stoor jij je aan donkere verkleuringen op de huid? Maak dan een afspraak voor een opgelicht en egaal resultaat! #dipomed #dipowhite #dilanpolat #donkerevlekken #donkereplekken #bleken #oplichten #ophelderen #huid #peeling #kojic #pigmentatie #fyp #foryou ♬ origineel geluid - Şifa Clinic

Kojic Peel for Anti-Aging

Kojic acid peel stimulates collagen production, which helps improve the skin’s elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Plus, it makes the texture more even and visibility of pores is reduced, which makes you appear more youthful-looking. On top of that, the reduction of age spots also contributes to this treatment’s anti-aging effects.

Kojic Peel for Acne Control

Just like any other chemical peel, kojic peel also helps unclog pores, remove dead skin cells and debris, and get sebum production under control.

These characteristics help reduce the chances of acne breakouts and clear out any blemishes like black and whiteheads.

Plus, antibacterial properties are very helpful in treating acne as kojic acid skin peel also kills acne-feeding bacteria that are responsible for acne in the first place.

Kojic Peel for Treating Infections

Since kojic acid chemical peel also has antifungal and antibacterial properties, it can be helpful in treating certain fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot and yeast infections.

Kojic Acid Peel Limitations & Contraindications

While kojic acid peel can benefit many skin types, it may not be appropriate for individuals with certain conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, active acne, or open wounds.

In such cases, the peel can cause further irritation and potentially worsen the condition.

Before undergoing a kojic acid peel, you should consult a dermatologist that’ll assess your skin’s condition and determine if the treatment is suitable for you.

Kojic Acid Peel Combinations with Other Ingredients

Kojic acid peel is often combined with other chemical peels, which helps enhance both their effects. It’s mostly a combination of AHA kojic peel, whether it be glycolic or lactic and kojic acid peel.

It also has the added benefit of working well when paired with other skin-lightening ingredients like hydroquinone, which is often prescribed by dermatologists to people who need prescription-strength lightening agents.

kojic acid peel combinations with other ingredientsImage source: @shineorganicsperth

What Does Kojic Acid Chemical Peel Treatment Look Like?

The chemical peeling procedure generally involves a few steps:

  • Step 1 is cleansing the area that’s about to be treated.
  • Step 2 is prepping the skin with a pre-peel solution that’ll prime the skin to ensure even penetration of the kojic acid. This step also involves protecting the sensitive areas (around the eyes, nose and mouth), as well as applying numbing solution if the peel is deep (which aren’t that common).
  • Step 3 is the actual application of the kojic peel, during which the technician is carefully monitoring your skin reaction. The solution is left on the skin for the appropriate amount of time that depends on each individual client.
  • Step 4 is neutralizing the solution, to stop the acid’s action.
  • Step 5 is soothing and protecting the skin post-peel, usually with a mask or thick moisturizer that promotes healing. After that, they’ll finish the procedure off by applying SPF to prevent UV rays from damaging new skin layers.

Kojic Acid Peel Results

It takes some time to see the full kojic acid peel results. The skin will need some time to fully heal, so for the first couple of days you will only spot peeling, flaking, and redness.

But after the damaged skin cells are shed, your skin will reveal a new, fresh, and undamaged layer underneath. This layer will immediately look brighter and overall improved both in tone and texture.

To learn more about what the post-peel healing process looks like, follow this link.

But it’s important to note that individual responses to kojic acid peel vary, and several sessions may be required to achieve optimal results.

The frequency of treatments depends on the individual’s skin sensitivity and goals, as well as the depth of the peel used. It’s generally recommended to start with lower concentrations and gradually increase intensity if tolerated well.

kojic acid peel resultsImage source: Instagram @backstagesalon_

Kojic Acid Peel Recovery & Aftercare

Since this procedure is mostly done as a superficial peel, the downtime is minimal. Still, there are some rules you should abide by, to achieve the best possible results.

Post kojic chemical peel care entails:

  • Keeping your skin moisturized and protected from the sun (regular SPF 30 reapplication)
  • Gentle ingredients – no fragrance, or other irritants
  • No abrasive scrubs or face-washes
  • Minimalist skincare and no makeup, at least for the first 24-48

You can learn more about chemical peel aftercare here.

Is Kojic Acid Peel Safe? Risks + Side Effects

Generally speaking, kojic acid is better tolerated than most acids, but an allergy or irritation is still possible.

Side effects of kojic acid peel may manifest as a rash, itching, irritation, and burning, though these are uncommon with lower concentrations. Higher concentrations can, however, increase the likelihood of irritation.

Kojic acid peel may also increase the risk of sunburn as it reduces melanin production, which protects the skin from UV damage.

Also some individuals, especially those with sensitive skin, may experience contact dermatitis, which can manifest as a rash, itching, dry patches, and potentially blisters.

How Much Does Kojic Acid Peel Cost?

On average, a single session can range from $100 to $300.

But the cost of a kojic acid peel can vary depending on factors like location, practitioner’s expertise, and the extent of the treatment. You should always prioritize a qualified practitioner’s expertise over cost for safety and effectiveness.

Also, since multiple sessions may be required, you should consult with a skincare professional to get a personalized treatment plan and an accurate cost estimate.

Can You Do Kojic Acid Peel at Home?

Milder concentrations of kojic acid peels are also available for at-home use. It’s important to carefully follow the instructions provided with the product and perform a patch test before use to determine if there are any potential adverse reactions.

Although kojic acid peel at home is available, most products containing this ingredient are formulated as different kinds of soaps and cleansers, as well as other skincare products that are meant to stay on your face instead of being used as a mask.

Due to its brightening properties, this ingredient is most commonly used in skin-brightening serums and products.

So if you want to incorporate it into your skincare routine, here are a few kojic acid products we recommend:

When it comes to at-home chemical peel treatments for brighter, more even skin tone, most people opt out for glycolic or lactic acid peels instead. They are much more widespread and safer. You can learn more about (and find product recs for):

Kojic Acid Peel – Main Takeaways

Kojic acid peel is a popular skincare treatment known for its ability to address hyperpigmentation and promote skin brightening. By inhibiting melanin production and promoting skin cell turnover, kojic acid offers a natural and effective solution for a radiant complexion.



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