So if you were following last week’s blog post, we got some juicy education straight from skin care extraordinaire Melissa Armstrong on what’s really going on when you have red, sensitive, clogged up skin.
If you haven’t read that yet, I suggest checking it out here first.
Now I left you with a cliffhanger at the end of that saying that for this type of skin, Melissa highly recommends exfoliating with enzymes. In fact, everyone who has acne and has used synthetic skin care and makeups in the past (pretty much all of you) could really benefit from these.
But what are enzymes? Where do I get them? How do I use them?
What Is Enzyme Exfoliation?
Okay, so most people are familiar with exfoliation. When you use something to manually exfoliate your skin, you’re using it to actually mechanically rub away the top most layer of skin, and perhaps unclog some pores.
So, if you used a washcloth to exfoliate your skin, or maybe rubbing some wet, grainy sugar around your face, that would be two examples of mechanical exfoliation.
Then you have chemical exfoliation, or what we’re calling ‘enzyme exfoliation’.
Enzymes are proteins that digest other proteins, such as the dead skin cells and old scar tissue trapped in the pores.
So instead of mechanical action, enzymes exfoliate through a chemical reaction.
And I don’t mean that like you’re putting nasty chemicals on your face… in this case, we’re talking about gentle, natural enzymes, which are things that prompt that chemical reaction to take place.
So like I said, Melissa highly recommends using enzyme exfoliation in order to treat this type of problem skin.
What the enzymes will do is stimulate new cell turnover, while digesting and removing the old impacted proteins in the pore – essentially allowing your skin to rejuvenate itself again!
She generally does NOT recommend ever using mechanical exfoliation for anyone. So throw out your fancy exfoliation bead face wash please.
So Where Do I Get Enzymes?
There are a lot of different examples of things that contain enzymes that you could use as an exfoliation mask, but a few examples are plain yogurt, or pineapples.
If you see Melissa for a personal consultation, she would formulate your own special blend of skin care enzymes and other recommendations based on your exact needs.
But in general, the main one that people in the Naturally Clear Skin Academy have been trying out and having great success with is using a papaya mask.
Papaya is one of the most gentle enzymes for sensitized skin that still offers visible results without further causing irritation and sensitivity.
Here are some of the things people in the Academy forums have been saying about it:
“A papaya enzyme mask is what I use and it has removed all redness and scarring from my face in less than a month and has worked wonders on my sensitive skin!”
“I’ve just started using them but my skin is less congested already. My skin hasn’t looked this even in a very long time and during the day I’ve noticed that my skin was not as oily as usual”
“After using the enzymes my redness was greatly reduced. That was yesterday, and today my skin has clarity to it, it’s not hidden behind a layer of dull dead skin. It also is wayyy less red than it usually is and feels balanced”
How to Use Papaya Enzymes
Okay so, the question still remains of how you actually use this.
First of all you need to actually get the papaya. You can literally just mash up some papaya and apply it to your face, but a more practical solution would be to get pure powdered papaya.
That way you can easily just mix it with a little water and put it on your skin to start doing it’s magic, no mushing or mashing involved.
So get some papaya powder, like this, for example.
Next you want to take a tablespoon (give or take) of the powder and mix it with a little water to make a paste.
Melissa recommends also adding a few drops of raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) such as Bragg’s… the acidity will help the enzymes really get down further into your skin to unclog the pores.
However, it’s advised you go very slow… start with only water, and over time, you can increase the amount of ACV in the mixture until it’s pretty much all ACV.
Then, apply a warm wash cloth to the face for a few minutes first – to soften the pores and prepare the skin for the exfoliation about to take place. Or if you’re lazy like me, just splash your face with fairly warm water for a few seconds.
Next, gently spread it around your face and leave on for 15 minutes or so, then rinse it off. It can be applied to either dry or damp skin.
I have personally found that I like to apply it just before I get in the shower, and then keep it on my face while I wash my hair / shave etc, and then very gently rinse it off at the end of the shower.
This is because I find it easier and gentler to remove if it doesn’t actually dry out on my face, which the humidity in the shower prevents.
Also note that when rinsing it off, it might feel quite grainy. You’ll need to be extremely careful not to irritate the skin – I like to cup water onto my face until it mostly dissolves off, without any rubbing action.
The Red Tingliness
You’ll notice at this point that your face might look kind of red and flushed, and feel slightly tingly (or like a very light burning sensation).
This is actually a good thing. The enzymes have brought new blood flow to the skin to regenerate it at its deepest layers.
However, it should completely fade within an hour or two, and give way to skin that has more clarity and less redness than usual.
If you feel like this redness / tingliness is really intense and it doesn’t go away fairly quickly then next time use less apple cider vinegar (or just water), and don’t leave the mask on as long. You can also add a little oil to it to create a buffer so it’s not so strong.
If you’ve done the above and you still get a reaction that lasts for days, I suggest quitting enzymes for now and stick with soothing and hydrating the skin with oils and aloe vera. After your skin is feeling a little stronger, you can try the enzymes again.
On the other hand, if you’ve done the papaya mask a few times and you’re not getting any redness or tingliness after, then increase the amount of ACV in the mask.
Give it a few weeks here even if you aren’t getting any red tingliness. The enzymes digest the clogs in the pores in layers, and it needs some time to eat away each layer before it can get deep enough in the skin to signal new blood flow.
If still nothing after several weeks, you can consider using a stronger enzyme like pumpkin or pineapple powders.
Also, your skin reaction to the mask may change over time, so you can adjust accordingly.
UPDATE: I made a video tutorial on the papaya masks, check it out (although the above information is the most up to date instructions)
How Often To Do The Mask?
It honestly depends. Melissa says this:
The goal of enzyme exfoliation is to clean out the pores and get your skin rejuvenating on its own. So you will need to use it more in the beginning, and less often later on.
Everybody’s rate of regeneration and ability to heal will be different though.
A good guideline: when regenerating the skin, it will usually revert back to it’s old clogged ways within 3 to 5 days in the beginning. So we want to repeat the enzyme process before it has a chance to revert. But you also don’t want to over exfoliate and cause more skin sensitivity.
If there is no increased sensitivity after using the mask, then applying every 3 days for the first week, then every 5 days, then weekly is ideal until perhaps it is only needed occasionally because the skin is finally regenerating on its own again.
If someone has increased sensitivity from applying the enzyme, they must wait for that to subside which could take one to two weeks – the more scar tissue and damaged function, the longer it will take to regenerate between masking applications.
We want to encourage everyone to listen to their instincts and their body (and skin), and not be guided by the fear and worry that got them this far, but rather that inner voice/their inner self guiding them towards healing!
Again, if you want a personalized solution customized for you, visit Melissa’s website and see what she offers!
Have you tried using enzyme exfoliation before? Any positive or negative experiences? Share in the comments below!