Enzymes are proteins which act as catalysts for chemical reactions in the body. How does this factor into skin-care? It just so happens that Enzymes also work to break down keratin (a protein that’s used to bond dead skin cells together) on the upper-layer of the skin. The result is exfoliation which leaves you radiant, youthful skin.
In other words, exfoliating enzymes are a perfect alternative to AHAs and BHAs for those with more sensitive skin. Since they occur naturally and only work superficially, they’re less likely to produce an adverse reaction. That being said, if you’re looking for a deep-cleanse you can also use AHAs or BHAs in tandem with enzymes to have your skin feeling as smooth as can be.
What’s more, Enzymes are great as they do not interfere with melanin synthesis (pigment production) and can be specific for dead skin cell bonds.This means they are safe to use on deeper skin tones and sensitive skin types. When formulated correctly, exfoliating enzymes will only act in the upper layers of the epidermis which minimises the risk of over-exfoliating.
Since enzymes are essential for a lot of bodily processes, they won’t only help your skin. When enzymes are incorporated into a digestive supplement, they help with digestion of food.
Proteolytic enzymes are powerful skincare actives that exfoliate the skin.¹ This means that they can release dead skin cells from the surface of the skin to promote a clear, bright, and smooth complexion.
Fruit enzymes (proteases) such as bromelain and papain can degrade the desmosomes (protein structures) that hold dead skin cells together.¹ This gently releases skin cells to exfoliate the skin.
Exfoliating is a crucial step in skincare routines as it keeps the complex soft and smooth, and it can also promote the penetration of other skincare ingredients used afterward. Exfoliation can also be helpful for those suffering with skin conditions such as acne or dry skin where the skin is flaking (hyperkeratinisation).
Enzymatic exfoliation is a great alternative to chemical exfoliation for those with sensitive skin or those with deeper skin tones. This is because enzymes can only target specific structures within the skin (corneo-desmosomes), in comparison to skincare acids which do not. In addition, enzymes can assist in the dilation of pore openings in the skin to improve the appearance of clogged pores and comedones (whiteheads and blackheads).¹
1. Trevisol T, Henriques R, Souza A, Furigo A. An Overview of the Use of Proteolytic Enzymes as Exfoliating Agents. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2021.
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