Enzymes are components found in fruits, milk and some vegetables that act as gentle exfoliators on the skin. Enzymes can be found in pineapple (bromelain), papaya (papain), mango, sour milk (lactic acid), pomegranate and pumpkin. Enzymes are gentler on the skin than using harsh scrubs, microdermabrasion and chemical peels. They exfoliate without altering the pH in the skin.
Enzymes work by digesting the keratin protein in the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum is the outer layer of the epidermis that is composed of dead cells, oils, melanin and dirt. The stratum corneum can be 16-24 micro layers thick, depending on your ethnicity. Enzymes helps to dissolve the intercellular glue that holds the micro layers together and help them to slough off leaving the skin refreshed and allowing the skin to breathe. They also help to lighten and brighten the skin while helping the skin to retain hydration.
O’Reilly, K. (2013). Dayspa, “Nature’s custodians: Experts dish on the best ways to adapt the humble enzyme to today’s sophisticated world of skin care”, pp. 56-62