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Exfoliation: AHAs vs Enzymes

Exfoliation: AHAs vs Enzymes

Exfoliation isn’t just important for dry winter skin – our cells are constantly renewing, and light, regular exfoliation keeps those fresh new babies at the forefront of our skin, which leads to a glowing complexion. 

Facial peels do this exfoliation without the (gentle!) scrubbing normally associated with exfoliation. Let’s have a look at the different options… 


There’s a whole world of natural AHAs or fruit acids that give the skin a wonderful exfoliation. Think malic acids from apples; lactic acid from soured or buttermilk, yoghurt, honey and bilberries; citric acid from all types of citrus fruit; and tartaric acid from grapes, berries, honeysuckle and red wine! It has what’s known as a chemically exfoliating effect – it dissolves intercellular ‘glue’ within the skin, which encourages dead cells to shed. It can also make your living cells shed, which is why they’re associated with sun sensitivity and sometimes even pain and scabbing. If you do have a chemical peel, please please please, make sure you wear an SPF 30 in the days following. They are incredibly effective of course, but it can take weeks to see those benefits due to the down time. 


Enzyme peels offer a gentler (and quicker!) solution – they speed up the natural chemical reactions in your skin that already renew skin cells. The most well known natural enzymes are from papaya and pineapple. They do not damage or remove live tissue, which makes them suitable for people with more sensitive skin – or who don’t have access to the downtime needed for a chemical peel. Lovers of the enzyme peel love the immediate, visible results – while they aren’t quite as deep or full-on as the results from a chemical peel, they are still gorgeous. 


If you were to ask me, I would take an exfoliant using AHA and Enzymes over a manual scrub and if I had to pick one, it would be an enzyme exfoliant. Mostly because it is great for all skin types, especially when the skin is fragile, sensitive and unable to tolerate AHAs or manual exfoliation. Clients who have experienced my Glow ritual will know just how beautiful the results are when an enzyme exfoliant is paired with light diamond-head microdermabrasion. And for extra love I aways follow the up with healing oils.  

If you’re wanting to create a gentle at-home mask here’s a great home recipe. I love to add it to The Little Alchemist’s Glow Mask, to really beef up all the skin benefits. The Glow Mask uses papaya enzymes, which is pure magic for your skin. Use it once a week for an at-home version of a facial peel in between your salon sessions.