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Exfoliating Acids vs. Enzymes

Written by Kerry Benjamin

Exfoliating Acids vs. Enzymes

Exfoliating Acids vs. Enzymes

When it comes to exfoliating, it’s no secret that we’re #teampeels. But what should you exfoliate with? Between acids and enzymes, it can be hard to sift through the options to figure out which is best for your skin. Let’s break down the differences between these exfoliators and how to choose which is right for you. 


Exfoliating acids include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). Found naturally in sugar, milk and plant-based products, acid MVPs include lactic, glycolic and salicylic acids. These exfoliators work to dissolve dead skin cells and speed up the skin’s natural cellular turnover to uncover the newer, fresher cells underneath. Exfoliating acids can also tackle a variety of skin concerns: AHAs like lactic and glycolic acid brighten the appearance of hyperpigmentation and refine texture while BHAs like salicylic acid help balance oil production and control breakouts. Look for it in our TCA Face Peel and TCA Body peel.

Enzymes are naturally occurring amino acids and proteins. In skincare, they are mostly derived from fruits like papayas, pineapples and pumpkins. Enzymes encourage the breakdown of the keratin bonds that hold onto dead skin, which allows dead skin cells on the surface of your skin to slough off more effectively.


In general, AHAs and BHAs are more potent, while enzymes are a great choice for people who might need something gentler. If you’re new to exfoliation or have sensitive skin, try exfoliating with enzymes first and then work your way up to exfoliating acids. Certain chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid are also a no-no during pregnancy, so you may want  to reach for an enzyme exfoliant if you’re expecting. Our Dual Enzyme Clay mask is great and safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


Because acids can exfoliate skin beyond just the surface layer, they are more effective at treating certain skin types and conditions. If you’re hoping to diminish dark spots, treat acne breakouts, or even out skin texture, opt for an acid. Enzymes are also much less stable than their acid counterparts and must be kept away from moisture and heat in order to remain effective. 


About the Author


Kerry Benjamin, a licensed aesthetician, has over 12 years of experience. Kerry is the driving force behind StackedSkincare. As the company's CEO, Kerry has dedicated her career to revolutionizing skincare. Her innovative approach combines peels, serums, and specialized tools toeffectively address a wide range of skin concerns. CA LE license number Z98459.