Educational Series: Enzymatic exfoliation and the benefits for the skin

by | 22 May 2023

The skin is an incredibly complex organ and much of this function is provided by the stratum corneum (SC).,

The stratum corneum (SC) is the outermost layer of the epidermis where we find the first lines of skin barrier defence including the microbiome.This innocuous-appearing layer of terminally differentiated cells or corneocytes (cells that have made their way from the deeper layers of the epidermis to the surface while undergoing many changes) helps to maintain hydration by restricting trans epidermal water loss (TEWL). This allows for well-orchestrated natural desquamation and along with cellular renewal, aids in the removal of surface pathogens.

The stratum corneum also contains antimicrobial peptides (e.g. cathelicidins) along with the multi lamellar lipids that also aid in bacterial and chemical defence. Constant immunosurveillance is provided by interactions between Langerhans cells, keratinocytes, and lymphocytes among other cells.

The skin also offers the function of thermoregulation and provides insight into internal health and general health as it is the site of response for internal changes.

So, why then, if the body naturally produces this multi-functioning protective ‘covering’, is the skincare and aesthetics industry obsessed with exfoliating, peeling and removing this delicate tissue?

It’s important to understand that not all exfoliation options are created equal and choosing an exfoliant that mimics and supports the natural functions of the skin can be beneficial in promoting skin health and function.

Incorporating customised enzymatic exfoliation based on your unique skincare needs can be the perfect way to smooth and regenerate the skin, without compromising the barrier and all that it is designed to do. Let’s explore enzymes and their role in a little more detail…


enzyme mask dermaviduals


What are enzymes?

Enzymes are biological protein catalysts that increase the rate in which a chemical reaction occurs; such as metabolism, protein synthesis, cell renewal and growth. Enzymes are made from chains of amino acids, they coordinate all the biological functions within our cells and are the building blocks of all proteins, including keratin, collagen and elastin, in fact, there can be around 1300 enzymes found inside a single cell! Enzymes serve to support the formation of the stratum corneum barrier including the corneocytes and the multi lamellar lipids and therefore play a significant role in the function of the skin’s first lines of defence.

The importance of water retention within the skin

Water plays a major role in the function of the skin and regulates every enzymatic reaction in the body, therefore it is important to ensure adequate hydration levels are maintained both internally and via topical application for optimum skin health and function.

For water to be retained within the skin, well functioning lipid metabolism is vital because when we see a lack of water within the dermis and epidermis, the flow-on effect is that enzymatic function can be impaired! Think about a simple analogy of oil sitting on top of water. Water is needed by enzymes to function and oil (multi lamellar lipids) keeps the water where it needs to be within the skin. It goes without saying, that when the skin is lacking water (and oil) the texture can become rough and scaly.


Oil and Water


How we use enzymes to create the perfect exfoliant

dermaviduals Enzyme Peeling Mask is a professional use only, gentle exfoliant containing enzymes that is designed to provide all the benefits of exfoliation while being customised to target your unique skincare needs.

Containing the enzymes of pineapple (Ananas Sativus Fruit) and papaya (Carica Papaya Fruit) along with bentonite and kaoline clay, the Enzyme Treatment Mask is an efficacious exfoliant that will provide results without downtime.

The ingredients found within the product not only digest the protein bonds between corneocytes but also work to degrade the lipids that hold corneocytes in place leading to smoother, brighter looking skin. In addition to the smoothing action, many notice an improved appearance of pore size, reduction in comedones, milia and pustules. The Enzyme Treatment Mask will also work to allow for deeper penetration of active ingredients that are applied subsequently.

This multi functioning professional exfoliation solution can be customised to just about all skin types and conditions and follows all of the principles of Corneotherapy allowing for the ultimate bespoke treatment all the while maintaining skin barrier integrity and health.

After a thorough consultation, your skin treatment therapist will determine the best combination for you and your skin. Mine is a combination of the Enzyme Treatment Mask mixed with a small amount of Ultrasound Gel to form a hydrating complex of skin mimicking enzymes plus humectants to provide the ultimate decongesting and hydrating exfoliation treatment in one! Other options include customisation with our DMS Base Creams, Individual Mask and Peeling Cream. 

With so many options available, the treatment solutions are endless. To learn more about becoming a dermaviduals stockist click here or to find a dermaviduals clinic to experience a treatment click here!

Written by Lisa Paone, Head of Education for dermaviduals at derma aesthetics