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Enzymes in Skin Care: Everything You Need to Know

Kristina Cadwell  
June 29, 2023  

In recent years, the field of skin care has seen a significant rise in the use of enzymes as key ingredients in various products. Enzymes, often referred to as nature’s catalysts, are complex proteins that play a vital role in many biological processes.

Enzymes offer a gentle and effective approach to removing the top layer of skin, improving its health and addressing various dermatological concerns. Unlike harsh chemical peels or abrasive physical exfoliants, enzymes provide a more natural and less aggressive alternative that promotes healthier, smoother, and more radiant skin.

This article explains enzymes and their benefits and lists the best skin care products containing enzymes for your skin.

enzymes in skin care

What Are Enzymes?

Enzymes are proteins that encourage the growth of new, healthy skin cells through a chemical reaction that removes dry and hardened skin. These substances dissolve keratin on the surface of the skin, breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells. Once these bonds are broken, the dead skin can slough off to reveal vibrant new skin.

Enzymes are a natural alternative to exfoliating peels as they enhance cell turnover to promote healthy and radiant skin. They also help curb the loss of skin elasticity by promoting moisture retention.

Importantly, enzymes don’t disrupt the skin’s natural pH and moisture barrier. Because of this, they generally don’t cause irritation and are safe to use, even by people with sensitive skin and pregnant women.

Where Can Enzymes Be Found?

Enzymes are derived from fruits and vegetables, such as:

  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Cranberry
  • Papaya
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • Pumpkin

The enzymes derived from these plants used in skincare are called bromelain, papain, and actinidin. Skincare product manufacturers use them in different formulations to help revitalize skin and treat various conditions.

Benefits of Enzymes for the Skin

There are many benefits of enzymes for your skin.

Exfoliates Effectively

Enzymes provide gentle and natural exfoliation without the use of harsh chemicals or ingredients. They break down the proteins of dead and damaged skin, encouraging its replacement with new and smoother skin. In addition, they promote skin cell turnover, providing a continuous resurfacing of healthy skin layers.

Clears Clogged Pores and Breakouts

Stressed skin tends to be oilier, which leads to clogged pores and breakouts. This disrupts the skin’s natural balance, causing problems and worsening existing conditions. Enzymes clear clogged pores and improve the flow of natural oils, promoting a healthier and smoother complexion.

Note: Learn how stress affects your skin.

Moisturizes Dry Skin

Just as enzymes can resolve oily skin issues, they also improve skin dryness. Namely, enzymes improve moisture retention and build a protective barrier against bacteria and other factors that worsen dry skin. As a result, they also prevent signs of premature aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles, which are more prominent if the skin lacks moisture.

Note: Discover our tips on how to get rid of dry skin.

Soothes Sensitive Skin

Enzymes are suitable for sensitive skin because they reduce inflammation naturally. As a result, they decrease irritation and relieve the symptoms of rosacea and other forms of dermatitis. The action of enzymes is gentle and doesn’t cause redness like acid exfoliators.

Note: Check out our recommendations for the best products for sensitive skin.

Boosts Cell Repair

Enzymes facilitate faster and more effective cell turnover and reparation. They trigger natural healing processes in the skin to remove signs of aging and skin damage. This is why enzymes are common ingredients in serums and anti-aging mask products.

Note: Learn about the best time to start using anti-aging products.

Improves Absorption

By clearing clogged pores and removing dead cells, enzymes help the skin better absorb skincare products and their ingredients. With their moisture-retaining abilities, enzymes assist the skin in getting the most out of the products in your skincare routine.

Compatible With Other Ingredients

Enzymes are compatible with almost every other skincare ingredient. They work synergistically with them to break down dead and damaged skin cells and replace them with new and healthy skin.

Who Can Benefit from Enzymes?

who should use enzymes in skin care

Enzymes are beneficial for all skin types and many skin conditions, including:

  • Sensitive skin
  • Dry skin
  • Normal skin
  • Inflamed skin and inflammation-related skin conditions (rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, etc.)
  • Acne-prone skin

Note: For tips on the best products for oily, acne-prone skin, consult our article.

Because of the gentle way they work, enzymes are particularly suited to people with sensitive skin prone to reactions and redness.

For deeply congested pores and cystic acne, enzymes may not be strong enough to remove all the excess sebum and dead cells so exfoliating acids are a better solution.

Experts also recommend enzymes to pregnant women and people who are new to exfoliation and don’t know how their skin will react.

Best Enzyme Facial Products

These are the best enzyme-based products for your skin.

1. Osmosis MD Polish Cranberry Enzyme Mask

The Osmosis MD Polish Cranberry Enzyme Mask is a powerful antioxidant that utilizes the potent cranberry enzymes to delicately eliminate damaged cells, resulting in a rejuvenated complexion and firm, smooth and radiant skin.

For the most beneficial results, apply a thin layer of the mask onto a thoroughly cleansed face and leave it on for 5-15 minutes before removing. Incorporate this treatment into your skincare routine 1-3 times a week.

2. Warming Honey Cleanser

Warming Honey Cleanser, enriched with the finest royal honey, jelly, and propolis, effectively purifies and exfoliates the skin. The rich formula hydrates and moisturizes, promoting a refined and harmonized complexion for those with problematic skin types.

This cleanser combines the power of papaya enzymes and green tea extracts to provide additional exfoliation and nourishment, resulting in a velvety smooth and luminous appearance that you can both see and feel.

3. is Clinical Lip Duo

iS Clinical Lip Duo is a gentle yet highly effective lip scrub infused with potent antioxidants (vitamins C and E). This luxurious formulation combines the richness of botanical butters to encourage gentle exfoliation, leaving your lips smooth, hydrated, and radiantly glowing with health.

Enriched with Extremozymes®, is Clinical’s proprietary blend of clinically proven enzymes, this product offers superior protection against environmental aggressors, ensuring your lips remain supple and nourished.

4. is Clinical Reparative Moisture Emulsion

With its unique blend of ingredients that provide surface and deep hydration, the iS Clinical Reparative Moisture Emulsion ensures that your skin remains nourished and moisturized throughout the day. Powered by the advanced Extremozyme® technology, it also provides optimal protection against environmental aggressors, protecting your skin from their harmful effects.

Suitable for all skin types, including oily and sensitive skin, this product helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and can also serve as a rich makeup base.

5. is Clinical GeneXC

iS Clinical GeneXC is a revolutionary formula that showcases the manufacturer’s exclusive blend of Extremozymes®. Clinically proven to protect, revitalize, and strengthen the skin, this serum offers multi-level protection and long-term visible improvements.

The serum harnesses the power of a 20% concentration of L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), combined with a potent fusion of botanically sourced enzymes, antioxidants, and fruit acids sourced on land and from the sea. This cutting-edge combination works synergistically to reduce aging signs, even tone, and reveal a radiant glow.

Note: Learn about the effectiveness of antioxidants in skin care products, and check out our selection of products with antioxidative properties.

How Often Can You Use Enzymes for Skin?

Despite the many benefits enzymes have for your skin, you should not exfoliate so frequently that you irritate the skin or oversaturate it with products. Experts recommend a gradual introduction of enzyme-based products into your routine. First use them once or twice per week, increasing this number over time.

Always check the label of each product and follow the instructions on the frequency of use for optimal results.


Enzymes offer a multitude of benefits for the skin. These powerful biological catalysts play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and vibrant complexion.

Enzymes, such as cranberry, papaya, and pineapple enzymes, work hard to gently exfoliate the skin, effectively removing dead cells and impurities. This process promotes a smoother texture, a more even skin tone, and reveals a youthful glow.

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About the Author:
Kristina Cadwell
PA Kristina Cadwell graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She then completed the Physician Assistant program at A.T. Still University graduating with a Masters of Medical Science degree. Kristina has been working in the Aesthetic Medical field for over 10 years. She is certified in neurotoxin cosmetic injection, dermal fillers, Plasma Pen skin tightening, chemical peels, and laser therapy. She is known for producing natural results and has extensive knowledge in diet and exercise allowing her to help you achieve vibrant skin from the inside out.
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