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Best Enzyme Peels

Updated October 2023
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Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask
Peter Thomas Roth
Pumpkin Enzyme Mask
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Premium Quality
Bottom Line

This luxury brand nearly rivals a professional chemical peel in terms of its ability to reveal rejuvenated skin.

Pros

Thick in texture yet won't scratch your skin's vulnerable surface. Ingredients dissolve dirt and excess oil, revealing clean results that shine in a healthy way. Customers love the smell and the smooth results they see after wearing for only a short time.

Cons

Can feel a bit too powerful for some sensitive skin types and is best to test a small patch first.

Best Bang for the Buck
Alba Botanica Pore-fecting Papaya Enzyme Facial Mask
Alba Botanica
Pore-fecting Papaya Enzyme Facial Mask
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Trusted Brand
Bottom Line

An affordable papaya peel by a reliable and respected brand that is known for clean ingredients and tantalizing tropical scents.

Pros

In just 5 minutes, this all-natural, vegetarian-friendly mask dissolves impurities and shrinks pores while restoring shine to the skin’s surface. Mild formula filled with kelp extract, bromelain, and awapuhi provides a tingle minus the irritation.

Cons

Those with sensitive or allergy-prone skin find the burning sensation to be too strong for certain skin types.

Andalou Naturals Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
Andalou Naturals
Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask
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Organic Choice
Bottom Line

With a host of organic ingredients, this mask can at least make you look like you've reversed in age.

Pros

Non-GMO, certified organic, and highly effective in terms of doing its job and revealing softer, glowing skin. Tingles in a good way, assuring you that the product is breaking down layers of dead skin cells. See reductions in spots and large pore sizes after a single use.

Cons

While short term effects help with the appearance of imperfections, long term results are rarely noted.

Bliss Jelly Glow Peel
Bliss
Jelly Glow Peel
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Ethical Choice
Bottom Line

Papaya and pineapple enzymes blend with coconut extract for a nourishing but deeply exfoliating experience.

Pros

Cruelty-free and paraben-free formula that deep cleans and exfoliates effectively without being overly abrasive. Clears blackheads and dry skin patches with ease.

Cons

Some find the microbeads to be too abrasive for those with sensitive skin and contact lens wearers.

Theraderm NuPeel Natural Enzyme Peel
Theraderm
NuPeel Natural Enzyme Peel
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Suitable for Everyday Use
Bottom Line

Gentle fruit enzymes and hyaluronic acid blend with soothing extracts like grapeseed, green tea, and aloe for a peel that’s gentle enough for daily use.

Pros

A delicate combination of ingredients packaged in a non-abrasive exfoliation gel ensures that your most radiant skin is revealed. Better for delicate areas than formulas with abrasive beads.

Cons

Some users complain that the product dries too quickly when applied, hence making results less effective.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 
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Buying guide for Best enzyme peels

Every skincare routine should include the essential step of exfoliation, which reveals youthful skin beneath dull layers. Exfoliation can promote optimal skin health by clearing the buildup of dead cells, which are a common cause of dehydration, acne, and premature aging. Chemical peels are often used as exfoliating agents, but they can be irritating for many skin types, which is why enzyme peels are such a popular alternative.

Enzyme peels gently penetrate the upper layers of the skin. They rejuvenate and deeply clean the skin without traumatizing the surface. Instead, enzyme peels remove only skin cells that are already dead, meaning they leave behind no telltale redness. They also help improve elasticity and texture for a smooth, glowing complexion.

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Enzyme peels can be performed year-round and can even be used in conjunction with microdermabrasion.

Benefits of enzyme peels

Enzyme peels can help with a range of skin issues. They are especially effective for those with sensitive skin who often have trouble finding a peel that is gentle enough. They are also safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women who can’t use chemical peels.

Chemical peels use acids to remove living cells along with dead cells, causing potential damage depending on the strength of the peel. Enzyme peels only exfoliate dead cells and no live tissue. There is no downtime and no irritation with enzyme peels. However, it’s a good idea to have your skin evaluated by a dermatologist to confirm that an enzyme peel is right for your skin.

Enzyme peels are activated by water. For this reason, enzyme peels are most effective on damp skin. Generally, they should be left on as a mask for 15 minutes. You can use enzyme peels to:

  • Fade discoloration and hyperpigmentation
  • Clear clogged pores and remove blackheads
  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and minor scars
  • Remove dull skin to reveal a brighter layer that glows
  • Improve skin texture
  • Prevent acne
  • Improve product absorption

Key considerations

Enzymes are naturally occurring proteins in fruits, vegetables, and meats that accelerate chemical reactions. They act as digestive aids when consumed, and they are often used to ripen fruit faster, tenderize meat, and produce fermented products. Most enzyme peels are fruit-based.

The dead skin cells on the top layer of our skin contain a protein called keratin that causes skin to feel rough. Enzyme peels work to dissolve that protein into smaller particles, which creates a smoother surface.

Fruit enzyme peels are considered the lightest and least invasive of all facial peels. They are ideal for those with sensitive skin or a low tolerance for acids. Whereas alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs) promote the growth of new skin cells, enzyme peels refine pores and slough off dead skin without increasing sensitivity to sunlight. Picking the right enzyme peel for you means picking the right enzyme for tackling your skincare concerns.

The common active ingredients in enzyme peels include:

  • Papaya: Papain is the active enzyme in papaya, which is effective for reducing redness and acne marks. Papaya peels are a popular choice for softening sensitive skin.
  • Pomegranate: Pomegranate enzyme peels brighten skin with lactic acid, salicylic acid, and alpha arbutin to hydrate while combating oiliness.
  • Pineapple: Bromelain is the active enzyme in pineapple. It tingles upon application and can reverse free radical damage while dissolving dead skin and even acne scars.
  • Pumpkin: Pumpkin has high quantities of AHAs, making it one of the strongest fruit enzymes. Pumpkin peels are ideal for clearing extremely clogged pores.
  • Blueberry: Blueberries are full of powerful antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients that promote youthful skin. The active enzymes in blueberries can also soften oil in the pores.

Features

Scent

Many enzyme peels have a fruity or botanical scent due to their fruit enzymes, but you can find scent-free peels for extra-sensitive skin.

Consistency

The consistency of enzyme peels is sometimes scrub-like with a grainy texture. Other peels have a smooth consistency that’s similar to a gel or mud mask. Sometimes enzyme peels come in powder form, which is mixed with water to form a paste.

Packaging

Enzyme peels usually come in jars or tubes. But some peels are packaged in pump bottles or even glass bottles with a dropper if the texture is more liquid.

Other ingredients

Vitamins and other plant extracts are often added to enzyme peels to introduce additional antioxidants and other nutrients to the skin. Jojoba or almond oil may be added for the purpose of moisturizing the skin as the enzymes exfoliate. Enzyme peels may also include white clay, minerals, and milk proteins.

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Did you know?
Some enzymes can slow the growth of facial hair. There’s even a method of hair removal known as enzyme hair removal.
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Enzyme peel prices

Prices for enzyme peels range anywhere from $5 to $60, depending on the quality and potency of the ingredients and the quantity of the peel.

Inexpensive

Affordable drugstore enzyme peels come in larger quantities but usually contain less concentrated amounts of the active enzyme. You can also find single-use masks in this price range. Inexpensive enzyme peels cost $5 to $15.

Mid-range

Many skincare and spa brands offer mid-range enzyme peels. These peels tend to have good amounts of active enzymes and come in larger quantities. Mid-range peels cost between $15 and $30.

Expensive

More expensive offerings have purer amounts of key ingredients and may combine multiple enzymes. Additional ingredients like hyaluronic acid are common in high-end enzyme peels. Expect to pay $30 to $60 for top-of-the-line enzyme peels.

Tips

  • When using pumpkin enzymes, mix the peel with honey instead of water. This will act as a buffer while maintaining the peel’s strong exfoliating properties.
  • Store enzyme peels in a cool, dark environment to avoid product instability and faster expiration.
  • Apply a hydrating but gentle moisturizer after using a peel. Other skincare products are absorbed more deeply following an enzyme peel.
  • Try an enzyme peel at home instead of a professional treatment if you have an upcoming event. Chemical peels can require a long recovery time and detailed aftercare, while enzyme peels are completely low maintenance, with no irritation or redness.
  • Always apply sunscreen with a high SPF if you’re going to be out in the sun after an enzyme peel.
"A less common but very effective enzyme is mucor miehei extract, which comes from Japanese mushrooms."
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Overuse of enzyme peels (more than twice a week) can cause dry or dull skin as too much exfoliation can damage the skin’s natural protective barrier.

FAQ

Q. Who are enzyme peels best for?
A.
Enzyme peels are best for those with sensitive skin or individuals who have tried acid peels and realized their skin can’t tolerate it.
 

Q. Is it ever not safe to use an enzyme peel?
A.
If you’ve recently used a strong facial scrub, have any open wounds on your face, or have been picking at acne, the peeling sensation of an enzyme mask might be too strong for you to use.
 

Q. Do enzyme peels hurt?
A.
Whereas other peels can sometimes be painful, enzyme peels do not sting. These tough exfoliators are always gentle.

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