The Best Enzyme Peels For Clear, Smooth Skin

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by Julia O'Donnell

According to double board-certified facial plastic surgeon Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich, who spoke to Bustle for this article, enzyme peels are a "quick, efficient, and immediate" way to nourish and exfoliate your skin, whether you get them done in the derm's office or do your own at home. Made from naturally derived active ingredients found in fruits, the best enzyme peels typically contain the extracts of pomegranates, pumpkins, papayas, pineapples, and figs, because they're the fastest-acting fruit enzymes in terms of their ability to dissolve dead skin cells, Dr. Vasyukevich says.

For best results, use your enzyme peel sparingly, Dr. Vasyukevich advises. "One of the biggest mistakes people make is using harsh at-home peels too often, which can severely stress out the skin barrier and cause sun sensitivity,” he says. Since every product varies, be sure to read through your peel's specific instructions thoroughly, but according to Dr. Vasyukevich, it’s typically okay to use a gentle enzyme peel about once a week. Afterwards, Dr. Vasyukevich advises patients to moisturize, limit their sun exposure, and use sunscreen daily to keep their skin protected and strong.

With those tips in mind, scroll on to shop five of the best enzyme peels for at-home use, all available on Amazon.

1. The Best Affordable Enzyme Peel

Andalou Naturals uses fruit stem cells in all their products, including this exfoliating mask, which is made with grapefruit, kombucha, pineapple, and papaya enzymes, as well as argan stem cells and aloe. Designed to be left on skin for 10 to 20 minutes, it helps promote a brighter, clearer complexion and unclog pores, thanks to the addition of willow bark (a natural source of salicylic acid). You can't beat the under-$15 price tag, either, especially considering the sophisticated, botanically derived formula.

2. The Best Luxury Enzyme Peel

Luxury beauty brand ELEMIS makes this divinely creamy peel that's meant to be applied to damp skin for 10 to 15 minutes before being rinsed off. Key ingredients include papaya enzymes and pineapple extract for gentle exfoliation, while bladderwrack, sunflower, and vitamins E and B3 help protect and moisturize skin. Expect a smoother, more refreshed looking complexion after just one use.

3. The Best Enzyme Peel In Scrub Form

For something a bit different, try the budget-friendly Jelly Glow Peel from Bliss. It has a unique, jelly-like texture, and works more similarly to an exfoliating cleanser than a mask, as it's intended to be washed off after massaging it into your skin for a few seconds or minutes. Unlike most exfoliating scrubs that use harsh beads or ground shells, this uses plant-based fibers to work its exfoliating magic. It's made with papaya, pineapple, and coconut extracts, plus other good-for-skin ingredients like glycerin, niacinamide, and panthenol. Impressively, over 1,000 Amazon shoppers left it a five-star rating or review after purchasing it.

4. The Best Enzyme Peel For Acne

For patients dealing with breakouts, enzyme peels can help control acne flareups by clearing out clogged pores, says Dr. Vasyukevich. This powerful enzyme peel is ideal for people with blemishes or oily skin, since it not only contains pumpkin, papaya, and apple extracts to exfoliate and brighten, but is also made with blemish-busting salicylic acid (derived from willow bark) and pore-purifying glycolic acid. If you prefer, you can use this as an overnight spot treatment in lieu of an all-over mask.

Dr. Vasyukevich says that peels that contain chemical exfoliants like AHAs or BHAs should be used with caution, especially if you have sensitive skin, so as with any new skin care product, be sure to do a patch test first.

5. The Best Enzyme Peel Pads

Another great way to unclog congested pores and clear up your skin: These Skyn Iceland peel pads. They're made with willow bark, papaya fruit extract, and lactic acid for exfoliation, as well as refreshing witch hazel, hydrating jojoba seed extract, and the brand's signature Icelandic Complex, which contains mineral-rich Icelandic glacial water and oils derived from the "super fruits" cloudberry and cranberry. You get 60 pads in one jar, so this one-time purchase should last you a while.

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It's neither a peel nor a mask, but Sand & Sky's enzyme powder is another fun way to treat your skin to some enzymatic action. When mixed with water, the powder transforms into a nonabrasive exfoliating cleanser that leaves skin clear, bright, and smooth. It's made with Australian pink clay, papaya enzymes, aloe, jojoba, and lots of other, antioxidant-rich botanicals from Australia, which is where the brand is based. Since a little of this powder goes a long way, it's bound to last you a solid year (or more), depending on how often you use it.


Dr. Konstantin Vasyukevich, M.D., a leading, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon based in New York City.