Papaya, Pineapple and Pumpkin: apart from being tasty what these healthy foods all have in common is that they contain enzymes. Enzymes have been pushed to the forefront of research into skin health, with exciting new research revealing how enzymes can improve skin appearance and prevent skin problems. Studies have demonstrated that cosmetic enzyme products can lead to significant improvements in the appearance and structure of the skin. We have put together a quick guide explaining what enzymes are and they are beneficial to the skin.
What Are Enzymes?
Enzymes helps to accelerate chemical reactions. Our body produces many different enzymes to facilitate essential processes. In the skin, enzymes help to pass nutrients from the blood into the epidermis. Some enzymes allow the skin to make use of beneficial fats, some help to repair collagen harmed by ultraviolet rays and other enzymes help to neutralise damage to DNA.
Why Are Enzymes Used in Cosmetics?
The most enzymes most frequently used in cosmetics are called proteolytic enzymes. They break down the protein bonds that attach dead skin cells to the uppermost layers of the skin. This triggers exfolaition. The results are similar to those experienced with Alpha Hydroxy Acids, and over time studies have shown that regular use of enzymes can improve the skin structure. Enzyme products are generally very gentle in their action and suitable for all skin types. They can help soften the skin, minimise pore, reduce blemishes/spots and improve skin texture .
Dietary Enzymes For Healthy Skin
[pullquote]Without adequate digestive enzymes the body is unable to fully break down food, leading to partially digested protein fragments that can increase inflammation in the body. This is bad news for the skin, particularly in the case of inflammatory disorders such as acne and eczema.[/pullquote]The types of enzymes found in the skin are not obtained directly from the diet, the body manufactures them using other molecules. To do this, and to maintain healthy skin generally, the body requires numerous macro and micro nutrients such as essential fats, vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Another family of enzymes, digestive enzymes, play an important role in processing these nutrients. Digestive enzymes stimulate digestion and allow the body to break down nutrients into usable blocks. Whilst it is not possible to supplement with skin improving enzymes directly, it is important to maintain a healthy digestive system and well balanced diet in order to allow the body to carry out enzymatic processes in the skin.
Without adequate digestive enzymes the body is unable to fully break down food, leading to partially digested protein fragments that can increase inflammation in the body. This is bad news for the skin, particularly in the case of inflammatory disorders such as acne and eczema.
Should you suffer from poor digestion, the issue may be improved by increasing natural digestive enzymes. Some foods, such as pineapple and papaya, contain enzymes that boost digestion. It is also possible to use enzyme supplements as a digestive aid.
Where do Cosmetic Enzymes Come From?
The most common enzymes found in cosmetic products are fruit enzymes from papaya, pumpkin and pineapple. All of these enzymes are proteolytic enzymes and have an exfoliating action. Enzymes derived from fruits or other nutrients first need to be fermented before they can become active ingredients in cosmetic products. This fermentation is the same process as occurs in the production of wine from grapes and of dough from yeast. These natural enzymes are used in products such as Trizyme Exfoliating Cream Mask and Trizyme Pore Perfecting Serum.
In addition to the benefits of fruit enzymes, researchers are now developing other applications for enzymes in topical products. This includes the use of topical enzymes for cancer treatment and the repair of photodamaged skin. Recently the enzyme DGAT-1 (diacylglycerol acyltransferase) was shown to boost the action of retinoic acid, which accelerates skin and hair renewal. There is also an enzyme treatment that can repair DNA and shows promise in the treatment of skin cancer.
1. ‘Topical DNA Repair Enzyme May Prevent Skin Cancer’ Journal of Oncology, 2001 http://www.cancernetwork.com/articles/topical-dna-repair-enzyme-may-prevent-skin-cancer
2. Smith W P, Bishop M, Gillis G, Maibach H. in Int J Cosmet Sci. 2007 Feb;29(1):15-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2494.2007.00354.This double blind study demonstrated that significant appearance benefits can be derived from use of exfoliative proteolytic enzymes, comparable to AHA’s.