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Enzyme Peel for Acne

author image Caryn Anderson
Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.
Enzyme Peel for Acne
A woman is getting a facial peel applied. Photo Credit Serghei Starus/iStock/Getty Images

Blasting troubled skin with harsh treatments can exacerbate the problem and irritate skin. Instead, use an enzyme peel to infuse your skin with nutrients and hydration while treating acne with a delicate touch. An enzyme peel helps exfoliate and detoxify skin, while refining pores, smoothing the skin and encouraging the blemishes to heal. Whether you’re applying the peel at home or visiting a spa to have it professionally done, first-time users should test the product in an inconspicuous area to make sure there are no adverse reactions before applying it to your face.

What It Is

Unlike harsher treatments that may feature alpha hydroxy or glycolic acids, enzyme peels do not further inflame irritated skin or sensitive skin. These treatments are typically derived from enzymes such as bromelain, which is found in pineapple and pumpkin. Other commonly used enzymes include papain, which comes from papaya, or pancreatin, which comes from beef by-products. Enzyme peels may be in the form of a cream that's massaged into the skin or a mask. Masks may be bought as a premixed, ready-to-use peel or a powder that is mixed with warm water.

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How It Works

The main objectives to using an enzyme peel are to soothe and purify without aggravating blemished skin. In addition to improving the overall texture of skin and infusing it with nutrients, the enzymes in the peel work to exfoliate the outermost layer of the skin, which is made up mostly of layers of dead, keratin-filled skin cells. Enzymes break down and dissolve dead skin cells in the epidermis, remove impurities and unclog follicles that are blocked with sebum and other waste. This encourages blemishes to heal. After an enzyme peel, your skin should have a slight pink, even skin tone.

At-Home Treatment

Over-the-counter peels are available in drugstores and online through cosmetic companies. After washing your face, wet your hands and pour the recommended amount onto your hand. Rub your hands together to create a lather, then massage the product over your face, particularly on any acne-prone areas or blemishes. Allow the product to sit for one to 10 minutes, depending on the product's recommendations. Rinse well and apply additional moisturizer or other skincare products as desired. Make your own natural enzyme peel by combining 2 parts pumpkin with 1 part plain yogurt or honey. Apply the peel to a clean face and let it sit for 20 minutes before rinsing.


Even though an enzyme peel is suitable for most skin types, it typically isn't recommended for anyone with acne lesions or other open wounds; cold sores; sunburn; eczema; autoimmune disorders; or dermatitis. If you have any of these conditions, used isotretinoin within the past year or are pregnant or nursing, consult a doctor or dermatologist before trying an enzyme peel.

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