Experts / Scientists
January 12th, 2023
All about the amazing power of enzymes
By Florence Masson, dermatologist and aesthetic medicine specialist.
Found in their natural state in all living organisms – plants, animals, or humans – these proteins with a rather scientific-sounding name are essential to keep the complex machine that is the human body working properly.
Also known to be beneficial for the skin, enzymes made their entrance into the world of cosmetics a few years ago. Because they really are genuine assets for beauty. But how do they work? How are they unique? In what types of products do they give of their best? Find out (almost) everything there is to know about these precious molecules.
They keep us alive! Enzymes work like “catalysts” for cells, i.e. they trigger or accelerate specific biochemical reactions. The molecules boost activity inside the body, which allows it to carry out metabolic processes properly… and almost all those processes are dependent on them! With the help of these seasoned workers packed with energy, our cells are indeed able to grow, reproduce and give the best of themselves.
Why use enzymes on the skin?
In cosmetics, they are mainly selected for their exfoliating power, the most common being “proteases” enzymes. Technically speaking, proteases can dissolve the keratin proteins found in the uppermost layer of the epidermis. In practical terms, they make it possible to rid the skin of its dead cells by easily “lifting” them away, while eliminating any excess sebum that has accumulated in the pores.
As a result, by exfoliating the skin enzymes stimulate the production of keratinocytes (the cells that make up 90% of the upper layer of the epidermis), which then promotes cellular renewal. The expression “renew the skin” takes on its full meaning here: with all its waste material eliminated, the skin can breathe better and regenerate. Thoroughly cleansed and clear, it is ready to receive another skincare product, whose effectiveness will be optimised.
What effects do enzymes have on the face?
The 100% natural enzyme exfoliation process has a key role in a beauty routine designed to benefit the skin’s health and well-being. It guarantees fast and visible results:
- A radiant complexion because dead cells are eliminated.
- An anti-ageing effect created by faster epidermal regeneration.
- A purifying and regulating action for combination to oily skin because this type of exfoliation does not activate excess sebum production.
What makes enzyme exfoliation unique?
Unlike conventional mechanical scrubs, enzyme exfoliants do not contain “granules” and therefore have no abrasive effect that can cause irritation. They also differ from chemical peels containing fruit acids because they do not dissolve the entire upper layer of the skin but preserve the viable cells.
Their action is therefore very specific, more targeted and much gentler. This key point means they can be used every day, even on the most sensitive skin. On top of that, their formulation’s pH level, close to that of the epidermis, respects its natural balance. Another significant asset for optimal tolerance!
Which products contain enzymes?
They are found in serums, for example, which provide a tailored response to a beauty concern such as the search for radiance. They release their full power by working deep inside the skin without attacking it. Not only do they brighten dull complexions, but they also refine the skin texture and smooth the features.
They are also found in “enzyme cleansers”, expert products which not only eliminate impurities but, due to their stimulating action, revitalise the skin by regenerating it.
Usually extracted from fruit and vegetables such as papaya, pineapple and pumpkin, these very specific enzymes are natural sources of proteases. Papain and bromelain are some of the active ingredients that have become very popular in the world of cosmetics, and we’d struggle to do without them today.
As you’ve understood by now, enzymes are perfect for improving the appearance of the epidermis day after day. By accelerating natural exfoliation, they gently intensify new cell formation, to the delight of most skin types, including very sensitive!