How is enzymatic exfoliation different from other types of exfoliation?
Amber Moon, lead esthetician at AURA Salon in Littleton, Colorado: Skin is naturally acidic, so it loves support from acidic ingredients such as enzymes, which are derived from fruits like pumpkin or papaya. Enzymes dissolve the bonds between dead surface skin cells, allowing the outermost layer to slough away and activating the dermis to create new skin cells. They also provide the skin with nutrition—for example, pumpkin contains vitamins A and C. This nourishment combined with exfoliation makes enzymes a preferred exfoliant for a multitude of skin conditions.
Nadia George, owner of Nadia’s Green Care Cosmetic Studio in Northridge, California: Enzymes are the most gentle and noninvasive exfoliating method, as they react with and digest only the dead proteins on the skin’s surface. Compared to scrubbing, they don’t micro-scratch the skin, or cause scar tissue formation or thickening of the epidermis; compared to chemical peels, they’re considered to be safer because they don’t react with the tissue or cause inflammation.
Manisay Gabbard, owner and senior therapist at MG’s Grand Day Spa in Greenville, South Carolina: Enzymes exfoliate multiple layers of dead skin and offer instant gratification in terms of lightening, brightening and hydrating—even for guests with rosacea or hypersensitive skin. Also, for clients who use retinol, enzymes won’t cause further irritation as long as the guest isn’t allergic to the foods the enzymes are derived from, such as papaya or pineapple.
George: I use the SAIAN Enzyme Mask to prepare clients’ skin for many of our protocols, including the SAIAN Collagen Infusion Treatment (60 min./$95), Acne Treatment Therapeutic Facial (60 min./$90) and Calming Treatment for Sensitive or Rosacea Skin (60 min./$90), in which it’s a core component. The enzyme mask is also effective on sun-damaged or irritated skin, and it’s an excellent treatment for large body areas, e.g., stubborn acne and clogged pores on the client’s back.
Gabbard: Every basic facial treatment we offer, from our Refreshing Facial (75 min./$140) to our MG Grand Facial (60 min./$85), uses Pevonia Enzymo- Sphérides Peeling Cream. For antiaging and acne upgrades (75 min./$180-$250), we use the brand’s Clear-O-Zym, which contains freeze-dried natural enzymes. The beauty is that enzymes will not harm or damage even compromised skin. They also help therapists perform extractions without lancing, leaving clients’ skin smoother, brighter and completely clean before applying any additional products— which then penetrate better thanks to the exfoliation.
Moon: Enzymes set the stage for the type and quality of result you are looking to achieve. For more sensitive or dehydrated skin, we offer the Inside Out Facial (60 min./$95), which includes a customizable papaya enzyme to lightly exfoliate, prevent inflammation and add suppleness. For intensive antiaging results, we offer the Rhonda Allison Minus 10 treatment (75 min./$119) that incorporates the brand’s Papaya Tangerine Enzyme to soften fine lines and even pigmentation.
How do you recommend clients use enzyme products at home?
George: We retail the SAIAN Enzyme Mask as the ideal option for regular, gentle exfoliation; as a calming treatment in cases of acne, mild irritation, eczema or excessive oil production; and for the reduction of large pores. Another excellent use of the mask is to prevent ingrown hairs after shaving or waxing; it’s essential after-care for waxing clients.
Moon: For certain skin concerns, such as antiaging maintenance or certain forms of acne, enzymes can help boost the efficacy of both professional treatments and a closely monitored at-home regimen. But they can be overused, so be sure to clearly inform clients of proper use for their specific skin type.
Gabbard: I ask guests to maintain their skin’s radiance and integrity with the Pevonia Enzymo-Sphérides Peeling Cream, applied for two to three minutes once a week, or twice weekly for acneic skin. It helps our therapists exfoliate much more easily during subsequent visits.
–by Tracy Morin