What are enzymes and how they work in skincare products?


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Enzymes in skincare have been around for yonks. As we got more preoccupied with skin health, they became popular as an alternative to acids. Do you need enzymes in your routine, and how do they work?

What are enzymes?

Enzymes are proteins that consist of amino acids. In the human body, their primary purpose is to facilitate various functions (like digestion, for example). The enzymes used in skincare products are derived from fruits like papaya, pineapple, pumpkin, and pomegranate. These are proteolytic enzymes.
Pineapple enzyme is called bromelain, Papaya enzyme papain, actinidin is found in pineapple, papaya, and kiwi.

How do enzymes work in skincare products?

On the surface of the skin, enzymes break down keratin (a protein) that holds the dead skin cells together. This way, the dead skin exfoliates and sloughs off. The end result is clearer, brighter, and more even complexion. They also soften the skin, aid skin renewal, and calm inflammation.
We are all attached to our favourite acids. But, unlike Alpha-Hydroxy and Beta-Hydroxy acids, enzymes are gentler on the skin, and most skin types tolerate them well. Likewise, another crucial factor is enzymes do not disrupt the skin’s natural pH. That way, there is less chance of disrupting the moisture barrier (which we know is crucial for healthy skin) that can lead to irritation and inflammation.

Who are enzymes suitable for?

Enzymes are suitable for all skin types. Yes, they might not be as potent as acids. But, if your skin doesn’t tolerate acids or you have sensitive skin, enzymes present a gentler alternative. That said, as with any exfoliating product, we recommend to introduce them into your routine slowly, a few times per week.
Products with enzymes can be used in combination with other more potent serums in our range that can, in some cases, trigger slight flaking (like our Mandelic acid or retinol treatments). They boost the action of the more intensive treatments and soften the flaking, hardened deposits on the skin. If that is the case, we recommend to alternate between the products and use them on separate days.

Ishtar products that contain enzymes

Trizyme Pore Perfecting treatment

What is it?

A light, oil-free treatment serum in a hydrating base.

What’s in it?

Trizyme Pore Perfecting treatment combines three types of enzymes.
Pumpkin enzymes have cell renewal properties but aren’t sensitising for the skin.
Pomegranate enzymes scavenge dead skin cells and gently exfoliate.
Papaya enzymes soothe the skin and boost cell renewal.
1% Beta Hydroxy acid in the form of Aspen Bark extract. This extract contains natural salicylates to calm inflammation, ease congestion, and clarify pores.

What does it do?

By combining enzymes and Beta-Hydroxy acid, Trizyme Pore Perfecting treatment calms inflammation and clarifies the pores. Enzymes scavenge dead and dehydrated skin cells to improve the texture of the skin. Meanwhile, Aspen Bark extract works deep in the pores to remove the oily deposits.

Who is it for?

Trizyme Pore Perfecting treatment is suitable for all skin types. It is especially suitable for sensitive skin prone to breakouts, or if you are prone to rosacea. It can be used together with more intensive exfoliating treatments in our range and boost their performance. However, if that is the case, we recommend to alternate the nights.

Cleansing Clay

What is it?

Cleansing Clay is a clay-to-milk cleansing powder.

What’s in it?

Cleansing Clay combines Kaolin, Coconut, and Honey together with low foaming cleansing agents. It softens and purifies the skin. Pineapple extract is rich in enzymes and Alpha-hydroxy acids and gently exfoliates the skin. Marshmallow root extract soothes and softens, while White Willow extract clarifies.

What does it do?

Cleansing Clay gently cleanses and exfoliates the skin to brighten, clarify, and improve the skin’s texture.

Who is it for?

Cleansing Clay is best suited for combination and oily skin types prone to breakouts. It can also be used if you have sensitive skin. For drier skin types, we recommend using Cleansing Clay as a weekly exfoliating treatment.

Have you tried a product with enzymes? Were you happy with the results?

Roberta Striga