Enzymes description

Vast group of proteins, produced by all living things, that act alone or with other ingredients as catalysts in chemical and biological reactions. Enzymes are divided into six main categories: oxidoreductases, transferases, hydrolases, lyases, isomerases, and ligases. The names of most, but not all, enzymes end in -ase. Enzymes are used in skincare products to prompt exfoliation. Most enzymes are finicky about how and under what conditions they will act. Sometimes several enzymes are required to carry out a particular reaction, and their actions are affected by temperature and pH. Some enzymes depend on the presence of other enzymes, called coenzymes, to function, or they depend on a specific body temperature. It would require an exceptionally complicated process to stimulate enzyme activity via topical application to skin.

Enzymes references

  • Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science, March-April 1977, pages 93-98
  • Journal of Proteome Research, May-June 2005, pages 967-971
  • International Journal of Cosmetic Science, April 2000, pages 85-94

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.