Papaya Enzyme Benefits + Uses for Skin

Papaya Enzyme Benefits + Uses for Skin

The more we learn about skin care, the more available options we have to help make your skin the best and brightest it can be.

Take papaya enzyme, for example. 

Papaya can help manage dull skin and fight the free radical damage that can quickly result in premature signs of aging. We’ll discuss three papaya enzyme benefits and how you can use them to support your skin’s health and beauty.

What are papaya enzymes?

It won’t surprise you to hear that papaya enzymes are extracted from the papaya fruit (although they may also be artificially created in a lab environment). However, it’s not the fruit itself that is the beneficial part of the papaya — it’s a specific enzyme contained in papaya known as papain.

Papain is a protease, which means it’s extremely effective at breaking down proteins. It’s this status as a protease that is behind all of the papaya enzyme benefits. 

What are the top papaya enzyme benefits?

Although there are many papaya enzyme benefits, let’s focus on three of the most interesting and useful in skin care. 

1. Papaya enzymes work as an exfoliant

Because the papain in papaya is efficient at breaking down proteins, its most beneficial use is as an exfoliant. Dead skin cells often stay on the surface of the skin because normal cleansers aren’t as effective at breaking down the bonds between them. Finding a way to dissolve those bonds makes the process of clearing the skin easier.

What are the benefits of an exfoliant? With clearer pores and less build-up on your skin, you will likely be less prone to blemishes. 

Your skin will also naturally appear brighter and more radiant. Over time, as the time it takes for your skin cells to replenish themselves decreases, you may even notice a reduction in the appearance of the normal signs of aging — especially dark spots (hyperpigmentation) and fine lines and wrinkles.

2. Papaya enzymes may help with facial hair

We’ve all had a stray hair here or there on our face — usually we can just pluck it and call it a day. However, if you are starting to notice more hair (a condition known as hirsutism), papaya enzymes may be able to help.

To see a difference using papaya enzymes for facial hair, you need to use it routinely for a solid chunk of time. Papain can work the same way on the bonds in facial hair that it does with skin cells, softening them and ultimately breaking them down so that they can be more easily cleared away from your skin.

If you’re really struggling with excess hair on your face, it may be worth a trip to the doctor or aesthetician. 

3. Papaya enzymes contain antioxidants

One last amazing papaya enzyme benefit is that papain is also rich in powerful antioxidants. If you’re unfamiliar with the term or unsure what they do, here’s a brief refresher — antioxidants are molecules that can fight off free radical damage in the body.

Essentially, free radicals travel all around the body, acting as scavengers. They are missing one of their crucial electrons to keep them balanced, so they become adept at stealing them from other molecules inside the body. Ultimately, this unbalances the molecules that have their electrons stolen from them, leaving them extremely vulnerable to all kinds of damage. 

Free radical damage is believed to play a role in not only signs of premature aging like fine lines, wrinkles and thinning, sagging skin and more dangerous concerns like skin cancer and multiple disease processes. Providing the skin with antioxidants gives free radicals a “safer” place to take electrons from, helping to provide a safety barrier.

How to incorporate papaya enzyme into your skin care routine

Due to one of the top papaya enzyme benefits being its exfoliating properties, you’re more likely to find the ingredient in skin care products that function more as exfoliants.

For example, cleansers. Our Papaya Enzyme Cleanser is an excellent example of how to incorporate the ingredient into your skin care routine. 

The cleanser is gel-based and combines papaya enzymes with another exfoliant, salicylic acid. Together, these actives help deeply cleanse impurities from the skin while also providing it with antioxidant protection.

To use Papaya Enzyme cleanser, dispense two pumps into your hands and massage onto a dry (not wet) face. Once applied, follow with lukewarm (not hot) water and work into a lather. Rinse clean and pat dry.

After you’ve finished with any cleanser (and subsequent toners and serums), its crucial to follow it up with a supportive moisturizer. As beneficial as exfoliants can be on your skin, they can also be harsh — plus, it takes more hydration to heal. 

A quality moisturizer, like Face Whip, helps to put hydration back into the skin and hold it there. This supports healing and soothes many of the side effects of exfoliants, especially peeling, redness and sensitivity.

And finally, never forget your sunscreen. Papaya enzymes may be beneficial for fighting off free radical damage in the skin and keeping it useful, but it’s even better to avoid that damage in the first place. SPF is crucial for helping to protect your skin from the potentially dangerous UV rays of the sun — so always complete your day time routine by applying a layer of sunscreen (and reapplying as necessary).

In conclusion...

While you’ve likely heard of classic skin care ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and retinol, papaya enzyme doesn’t have the same name recognition yet. When included in a well-rounded skin care routine, papaya enzyme can also function as an exfoliant, keeping the skin clear, bright and youthful-looking. 

Over time, those with excess facial hair may notice a decrease in how visible it is. For more ways to keep your skin looking and feeling its best, contact Skin Pharm.

Peer review

This article was medically reviewed by Madeline Stoffer, MSN, NP-BC, a board-certified nurse practitioner with 6 years of experience in cosmetic dermatology.


In vitro effect on the proteolytic activity of papain with proteins of the skin as substrate | PubMed

Hirsutism | NCBI Bookshelf

Salicylic Acid - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics

Free Radicals and Extrinsic Skin Aging | PubMed


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