Dr. Emer: Cosmelan Peel Treatment

The gold standard leave-on peel, Cosmelan is the preferred method of treatment for patients with melasma, hyperpigmentation, discoloration, burns, and acne scars. The Cosmelan Peel is a non-inflammatory depigmentation treatment that targets pigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme in the melanin (skin pigmentation) formation process. At the same time, Cosmelan accelerates cellular turnover to remove dead skin cells, lift pigment, soften texture, smooth the skin, and reduce pores and fine lines.

A renowned expert in state-of-the-art skin treatments, Dr. Jason Emer has long used the Cosmelan Peel to treat patients of all ethnicities and skin types with a wide range of skin conditions. Because Cosmelan produces no internal inflammation and does not alter the pH of the skin, it produces a safe outcome for all melasma and hyperpigmentation patients, including those with darker or olive-colored skin tones.

Cosmelan can be applied not only to the face but nearly anywhere on the body, including the elbows, armpits, knees, groin, and anus. The peel (which functions as a facial mask) uses a unique blend of ingredients that help suppress pigmentation and exfoliate surface staining, including:

  • azelaic acid, which kills bacteria on the skin’s surface, boosts new skin cell production, and lightens pigmentation
  • kojic acid, a natural fungi derivative that inhibits the production of melanin in the skin
  • phytic acid, an antioxidant that heals the skin and protects it after treatment
  • retinol, a vitamin A derivative that accelerates cellular turnover to improve fine lines and wrinkles and stimulate collagen production
  • vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps even skin tone
  • hydroquinone, a skin brightening agent that works on pigmented areas of the skin

How does it work?

Following a thorough consultation, Dr. Emer and his skilled aestheticians prepare your skin with a pre-exfoliating acetone solution (or with a Dermaplaning Exfoliating Facial treatment), which is designed to remove oil, dirt, and debris from the treatment area so that the peel can work more effectively and easily penetrate the skin.

With a consistency similar to peanut butter, the Cosmelan Peel is applied evenly to the desired treatment area and massaged into the skin. The product feels soft and soothing on the skin, though you may feel a tingling sensation almost immediately. Once applied, you can then return home and allow the mask to sit on the skin for 6 to 8 hours.


Patients often see improvements in skin tone after just 1 week and full results about 4 to 5 weeks after the initial treatment. Long-term results that typically last 18 months. Dr. Emer frequently uses the Cosmelan Peel to provide improvements with:

  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
  • Melasma
  • Facial redness and discoloration
  • Sun damage / dark or brown spots
  • Enlarged pores
  • Acne and acne scarring
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Skin color and tone
  • Complexion blending
  • Skin brightening

What is the Enlighten Peel? How is it different?

The ReveSkin Enlighten Peel, which Dr. Emer helped formulate with LaReve Skin Institute, is a lighter version of the Cosmelan Peel with similar actives and benefits but a shorter downtime. While Cosmelan is the preferred treatment for patients with melasma, the Enlighten Peel — which resembles pumpkin puree and feels just as cool and soothing when applied — has a higher concentration of salicylic acid, so it is even more effective for individuals with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) as well as those who are prone to acne and breakouts. Also beneficial for skin texture and tone, the Enlighten Peel is often used to maintain the results of a Cosmelan Peel, particularly for patients who are looking for a lighter peel with a shorter downtime.

In addition to salicylic acid, the Enlighten Peel contains a proprietary combination of pigment suppressors and nourishing vitamins, including hydroquinone, retinol, kojic acid, arbutin, niacinamide, and vitamin C.

Which skin care products do you use with Cosmelan and Enlighten?
Immediately after the mask is washed off (6 to 8 hours after application), our patients apply Cosmelan 2 treatment cream, which is specially formulated to boost the depigmenting properties of Cosmelan and Enlighten, minimize new melanin production, prevent the reappearance of dark spots, and control the appearance of new spots. Dr. Emer’s patients then begin a two-week aftercare regimen, which typically includes:

While the treatment area is peeling, patients are encouraged to allow the skin to peel naturally. Jan Marini Clean Zyme Face Cleanser and the Jan Marini Skin Zyme mask can assist in skin exfoliation and the removal of dead skin cells, allowing the peel to work more effectively.

After the two-week aftercare regimen, the patient continues to apply the Cosmelan 2, alternating that topical cream every other night with hydroquinone and retinol.

How does Dr. Emer do it differently?

Different types of skin conditions and concerns warrant a unique combination of treatments for significant, long-term improvement. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jason Emer is a pioneer in the formulation of these patient-tailored combinations.

  • ​• Hyperpigmentation of any kind needs a combination approach with Cosmelan Peels; laser treatments like Clear + Brilliant, Aerolase, and Laser Genesis; radiofrequency treatments like Venus Viva; DermalInfusion facial rejuvenation; and constant skin care and sun protection.
  • • Prior to a fractional CO2 or Fraxel skin resurfacing laser treatment, Dr. Emer will often pretreat the skin with Cosmelan to prepare the skin cells and allow for a more effective and deeper penetration of the laser treatment.
  • • When used both before and after energy-based laser and radiofrequency procedures, Cosmelan Peels can decrease the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), especially for those individuals with darker skin types.
  • • For patients with melasma, a highly common problem which causes dark, discolored patches on your skin, Dr. Emer uses a customized combination of lightening and exfoliating peels, low-density lasers, and medical-grade skin care regimens to target the pigmentation.

  • • For acne scarring patients with darker skin types, it is important to avoid strong lasers such as CO2, Erbium, and Fraxel as they may cause hyperpigmentation. Instead, Dr. Emer uses a combination of peels like Cosmelan, microneedling RF (such as Fractora and Intensif), lasers such as Aerolase or Genesis, microneedling with PRP, and a proper skin care protocol.
  • • To treat eye bags, hollows and dark circles under the eyes, Dr. Emer uses Cosmelan Peels as part of a non-surgical combination approach that also includes injectable fillers such as Belotero and Restylane Silk, lasers like Aerolase, Renuvion (J-Plasma), and microneedling with PRP​.
  • • For freckle removal, Dr. Emer has developed a combination approach including Cosmelan and TCA chemical peels as well as laser treatments (IPL combined with Fraxel) and microneedling with PRP.

Am I a good candidate for Cosmelan or Enlighten?

Cosmelan and Enlighten are designed for all skin types and is especially effective for individuals with olive skin / darker skin tones who are at a higher risk of hyperpigmentation from energy-based treatments and traditional chemical peels.


What is the downtime? Are there any expected side effects?

With the Cosmelan Peel, patients experience some facial redness, irritation, and light flaking over the course of 2 weeks, all of which are positive indicators that the peel is working as intended. With the Enlighten Peel, patients experience redness in the treated area for 2 to 3 days followed by mild peeling for about a week. Patients may also experience some sensitivity and skin tightness throughout the healing process.


What are the risks involved?

Peels like Cosmelan and Enlighten are comprised of a high concentration of multiple acids. Any error in the application of the peels can dramatically change an individual’s appearance, which can be difficult and costly to reverse. For this reason, these treatments must be performed by experienced providers such as Dr. Jason Emer and his expert aestheticians.

How do I schedule a consultation with Dr. Emer?

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Emer in Beverly Hills / Los Angeles / West Hollywood, California, please reach out to our concierge to schedule an appointment. Call 424-800-4140 or email us at appointments@jasonemermd.com.