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Enzymology: All About Enzymes in Cosmeceuticals

Written By: The Serum Guru

Enzymes in our serums

A number of our serums utilize the remarkable properties of enzymes. Components like Superoxide Dismutase, CoQ10, and Catalase provide great benefits to skin, scalp & hair.

Here are just some of our products with phenomenal enzyme components:

TelomErase 6-in-1 Multi-Corrective Serum
RevivHair Stimulating Shampoo
RevivLash Lash & Brow Stimulating Serum

All about Enzymes

The purpose of enzymes in a cell is to increase the rate at which reactions occur, to allow the cell to build things or take them apart very quickly. This is because at the temperature and pH level of most cells, chemical reactions such as for cell growth and reproduction do not proceed fast enough to maintain cell viability. Enzymes accelerate the rates of reactions by more than a million-fold, so reactions that would take years can occur in fractions of seconds with the appropriate enzyme.

An enzyme is formed by stringing together 100 to 1,000 amino acids in a specific order. The chain of amino acids then folds into a unique shape. This shape is what allows the enzyme to carry out specific reactions. Enzymes work by a shape recognition; the substrate must form a complex with the enzyme so they can lock together to transfer energy and form a reaction. This reaction is what binds the substrate to the enzyme’s reactive site.
Enzymology in Cosmetics

The cosmetics industry has been using enzymes such as pumpkin for resurfacing and smoothing skin for many years. Enzymes have also proven useful to treat skin conditions related to skin aging, acne, congestion and pigmentation. Their most common benefits, described in detail below, include free radical scavenging, protein breakdown, structural reinforcement, antibacterial benefits and exfoliation.

While the benefits of enzymes have long been known, interest in enzymology for cosmetic and dermatology applications has more recently grown. This is due in part to advances in optimizing their functionality, safety and stability in cosmetic systems to provide skin and product protection—not to mention their natural and renewable status.

Indeed, coenzymes and cofactors in cosmetics, such as the well-known coenzyme Q10, represent a safe way to promote the efficient functioning of skin’s enzymes. Coenzymes and cofactors generally have low molecular weights, enabling them to penetrate through the stratum corneum to help activate the enzymes that are present. They also are stable and relatively easy to formulate into cosmetics.

Free Radical Scavenging

One area where topical enzymes have shown significant benefits is in skin protection. Enzymes capture free radicals, preventing damage to the skin caused by environmental pollution, bacteria, smoke, sunlight and other harmful factors. In this capacity, enzymes work successfully on the surface of skin, without the need to penetrate deeper to reach living cells.

Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous protective enzymes is superoxide dismutase (SOD). This enzyme, often extracted from yeast, is found in almost all living organisms and works to protect the cells from free radicals in aqueous environments. It also is found in barley grass, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, wheatgrass and most green plants.

SOD, in combination with catalase, is responsible for protecting skin proteins from aging due to oxidation. It works by dismutation, a process by which a highly reactive oxygen free radical is converted to a less reactive form. This is important to aerobic cells. If the oxygen molecule is not completely reduced to two water molecules (by accepting four electrons), the partially reduced superoxide radical will remain and can cause damage to skin.

SOD is used in cosmetics and personal care products as an anti-aging ingredient and antioxidant. It has been shown to prevent wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, help with wound healing, soften scar tissue, protect against UV rays and reduce other signs of aging.

— Excerpted from Cosmetics & Toiletries:

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