FOCUS – Enzymatic Exfoliation 


What is exfoliation? 

Exfoliation happens naturally as the keratinised (dead) surface skin cells detach themselves, shed to make way for new cells. This is a constant cycle occurring every minute of the day from the day we are born.

As we age, the skin’s process of renewal slows down. It takes longer to get rid of keratinised skin cells and add new ones. The older cells start to accumulate on the surface of the skin creating rough, dull, dry, and thickened skin. Pores may become blocked giving rise to blemishes and as skin cells become less efficient, they are more prone to damage.

If exfoliation is a natural process, why do I need to exfoliate?

Ageing is one of the main reasons we will need to exfoliate, the ‘glue like cement’ holding the surface skin cells together become denser and the shedding of dead cells becomes more difficult. Skin cell turnover is affected by a variety of factors such as diet, hormones, stress levels, amount of sun exposure, general health, and quality of skin. These conditions impair exfoliation, and the aim is to promote skin renewal helping to regain softness, uniform texture, suppleness, and skin health.

  • Eliminates impurities and keratinised cells (hardened dead skin cells)
  • Helps the skin appearance to look clearer, brighter, and smoother
  • Supports penetration of active skincare ingredients to living cells residing in the skin’s deeper layers
  • Maintaining skin health by regulating skin cell turnover
  • Healthy skin function



Skin exfoliation can be chemical, mechanical, or enzymatic process and they work in different ways. It is important to consider your skin type (sensitive, normal, dry, oily, combination) before choosing an exfoliation method. Mechanical exfoliation uses agents like grains, brushes, or scrubs to remove dead cells they need to be used gently as you can easily damage your skin. Chemical exfoliation uses chemicals like AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) or BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) to gently dissolve dead skin cells. The different types of acids have different molecule sizes and form, so care needs to be taken when selecting the right acid exfoliation for your skin.

Our focus today is on the use of enzymes to dissolve keratinised skin cells by breaking down the peptide bonds of proteins in the surface skin cells. Enzymes are biological protein molecules referred to as biocatalysts that increase the rate of chemical reactions in cells.

Enzymes can be synthetic or from natural botanical sources such as fruit extracts commonly papaya (papain), pineapple (bromelain), pumpkin, and ficain (stems of fig tree). Using plant sources also gives wonderful antioxidant and protective properties to the product.

Enzymes boosts the skin’s natural way of breaking down and digesting skin cells. Each enzyme differs in their properties and level of activity. Pineapple enzymes have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory benefits and it a great choice for more sensitive skin types. Pumpkin enzymes are a great choice for rough textured skin and uneven skin tone.

The benefit of enzyme exfoliation over manual and chemical is the more gentle approach to exfoliation and encourages natural desquamation.

Over exfoliation is a common skin problem so if in doubt go for a more gentle approach.

We have some great choices of enzymes that we would like to share with you.


AnteAGE MD | Regenzyme 


This non-acid blend of powerful botanical enzymes produced through bacterial fermentation, enriched with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich ingredients, will soften skin and slough away surface dead skin cells, leaving the skin polished and hydrated.

Designed to be gentle enough for all skin types.


  • Pumpkin Enzyme (Lactobacillus/ Pumpkin Fruit Ferment Filtrate) | Potent Pumpkin fruit enzyme helps promote the natural exfoliation process, which aids in fading the
    appearance of fine lines and softens skin. Rich in Vitamin A.
  • Pomegranate Enzyme (Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract) | Extracted from the seed of the Kiwi Fruit, this Omega 3 plant lipid is enriched with Alpha-Linolenic
    Acid to deeply moisturize and protect the skins barrier.
  • Bromelain | Proteolytic enzyme isolated from Pineapple stems, hydrolyses proteins into peptides and amino acids.
  • Papain | Enzyme derived from Papayas, digests keratin proteins to help promote the natural exfoliation process. A powerful antioxidant rich in Vitamins C, E and Beta Carotene.
  • Ficin | Proteolytic enzyme isolated from Figs, catalyzes the hydrolysis of proteins including keratin proteins, helping aid the natural exfoliation process.
  • Protease | Enzymatic, Lytic activity used to help break down proteins, lipids and polysaccharides, while aiding in the natural exfoliation process.
  • Astaxanthin | Carotenoid pigment derived from a Hawaiian microalgae. A potent antioxidant that helps to defend against lipid peroxidation and oxidative damage. Possesses properties to help calm skin with actives that help guard against UV induced oxidative injury.
  • Eclipta Prostrata Extract Squalane | A plant-derived lipid that mimics what is naturally produced by the skin. Keeps skin soft, supple and hydrated.

Dermaviduals Enzyme Peeling Mask 10g



Dermaviduals Enzyme Peeling Mask  is a biological peeling treatment of the skin based on natural enzymes as for example pineapple or papaya enzymes. These enzymes provide protein as well as lipid-degrading properties. The mask base is a mixture of kaolin and bentonite. This is the most respectful method of exfoliation, encouraging the epidermis natural desquamation process.


  • Pineapple or Papaya enzymes – provide protein as well as lipid-degrading properties.
  • Kaolin and bentonite – provide a deep cleanse and helps clarifies the skin and pores.


iS Clinical | Warming Honey Cleanser

This is a luxury honey based cleanser that offers a sensory experience but is also formulated with papaya enzymes for gentle exfoliation.


  • Honey 40.0% – Contains powerful antibacterial, antifungal and anti-infammatory properties.
  • Myristic Acid 7.0% – Cleans and softens.
  • Papain (Papaya) Enzymes 1.5% – The enzyme papain acts as an exfoliator


CosMedix | Pure Enzymes Exfoliating Mask 60ml

While this is not purely enzyme exfoliation as it does contain Lactic Acid; the combination of the two still offer a fairly gentle exfoliation.

CosMedix Pure Enzymes uses active ingredients to exfoliate, protect and revitalize the skin, whilst stimulating Natural Moisture Factors to add a dewy softness to the skin.


  • Cranberry enzymes
  • L-Lactic Acid – AHA but due to it being a large sized molecule it offers a more gentle acid exfoliation
  • Superoxide Dismutase and Glutathione -powerful antioxidants



To end we are her to advise and make recommendations

The message is not to over exfoliate the skin, keratinised skin cells fall away naturally every minute of every day, so we do not need to exfoliate every day. Ideally once or twice a week is sufficient. Excessive exfoliation can cause thinning, shininess, irritation, redness, sensitivity, and dilated blood vessels. With repeated over-exfoliation barrier function is diminished and dehydration occurs as well as other skin problems.