You might be familiar with physical scrubs, AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids), but have you heard of enzymes? These naturally sourced ingredients might not be as famous, but they are still superheroes when it comes to brightening, polishing and making your skin smooth and glowing!
What Are Enzymes in Skin Care?
Enzymes in skin care products are a type of protein that causes an exfoliating chemical reaction when applied to the skin. In short, enzymes help to break stuff down!
So just like how our body naturally produces enzymes to break down the food we eat, in the same way, enzymes found in skin care products help to break down (aka exfoliate) old skin cells hanging on the top layer of our skin that we could really do without.
And as we know, exfoliation is key to avoiding a whole range of skin conditions including premature ageing, dehydration and acne breakouts. It also promotes cell regeneration and allows your skin to better absorb other treatments, serums and ingredients.
Related article: Exfoliation Explained: Physical vs Chemical
Where Do Enzymes Come From?
Enzymes found in skin care products are normally botanically sourced. There are many types of enzymes, but the most common versions come from bromelain (pineapple extract), papain (papaya extract), ficin (fig extract), and actinidin (kiwi, mango, banana, and papaya extracts).
Benefits of Using Enzymes in Skin Care
1. Gentler on the skin: Enzymes also constitute chemical exfoliants, but are considered milder alternatives to AHAs and BHAs. This makes them more suitable for those with sensitive, normal or dry skin, or even for pregnant women. While they are generally much less likely to cause irritation, this also ultimately depends on the concentration and product formulation.
2. Soothing and Antioxidant Benefits: Since they are botanically sourced, most of the enzyme-rich extracts also come with other skin benefits too, including soothing the skin or fighting against free radicals and oxidation.
3. Wider pH Range: Chemical exfoliants like glycolic or salicylic acid are very pH-dependent, meaning that if the product is formulated at the wrong pH or if your skin is too alkaline during application, the product might not work as effectively. Enzymes, on the other hand, are easier to incorporate into your routine as they function at a wider pH range so formulation and product order wouldn't be as big of a concern.
Where To Find Enzymes in Skin Care
If you’re keen on incorporating enzymes into your regimen, try these K-beauty favourites:
1. Rovectin Skin Essentials Activating Treatment Lotion: This multitasking water-based lotion is packed with papaya extract to gently exfoliate, caffeine to firm, and hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate your skin.
2. Beauty of Joseon Apricot Blossom Peeling Gel: Made with natural enzymes from apricots and apple fruit extracts, this gentle peeling gel removes dead skin cells for smoother and glowing skin!
3. Son & Park Beauty Water: This cult-favourite multitasker uses enzyme-rich papaya fruit water to get rid of dead skin cells for a brighter and smoother complexion.
Happy exfoliating! :)