Papaya Enzyme Benefits for Skin and More

Papaya-Enzyme-Benefits-for-Skin
Amy20MD 1

Medical reviewed by Amy Rogers, MD MPH FACPM

Preventive Medicine, Public Health, Lifestyle Medicine, Pandemic Response, Global Health

With natural skincare products rising steadily in popularity in the last few years, it’s no surprise that papaya has joined the ranks as one of the skincare community’s highly used and favored ingredients. But what makes this fruit so special? Its enzymes!

Papaya enzymes benefits for skin are numerous. This article aims to help you understand how they’ll help keep your skin smooth, hydrated and contribute to slowing down the aging process.

What are enzymes? How do they work?

Because of various enzymes and minerals in the fruit, papaya, also known as “paw paw,” has become a popular cosmetic ingredient. 

These enzymes, known as biocatalysts, are essential for your skin health. Enzymes help simplify complex and inactive molecules to create simpler active molecules that your skin can use (1). Thus, these active molecules can now help create beneficial products for the skin cells to use and improve moisture content, especially through the use of fats and lipids, known as ceramides, found in your skin cells (2). 

The use of enzymes in skincare

Since the skincare industry discovered the wonders and multiple uses of enzymes, it has boomed with various products. Products such as cleansers, moisturizers, and exfoliators are created by benefits from the enzymes and minerals in papaya.

Ceramides & skin-lightening

The ceramides mentioned earlier play a crucial role in your skin’s health and overall appearance, as dehydrated skin can often appear to be aged and dull. Certain enzymes, such as lignin peroxidase, can help break down eumelanin. Under normal circumstances, eumelanin melanocyte cells help absorb UV rays and contribute to the creation of your lovely glowing tan in the summer (3). 

This means that cosmetic companies use these enzymes to trigger an adverse reaction towards eumelanin cells in the skin, helping to lighten it.

Skin cleansing

Lipase, a fat-splitting enzyme, has gained popularity and is used in certain cleansing products. Because the enzyme can degrade these lipid fats, it’s used in nose cleansers and face masks. This enzyme can also break down sebum, which can clog pores and result in acne or blackheads (4).

Facial fillers 

Although fillers are often used for their rejuvenating effects, they can occasionally go awry. 

Botched fillers are another area in which enzymes shine. When it comes to cosmetic surgeries, the enzyme Hyaluronidase plays a crucial role in damage control and safety. Incorrectly placed fillers can be deadly if they spread into the face beyond the injection site. In cases like these, hyaluronidases are used to dissolve the hyaluronic acid, which is most commonly used in filler procedures to ensure the patient’s safety (5).

Papaya enzyme benefits for skin

As you’ll discover, the benefits of papaya enzymes are vast, from keeping skin smooth with its gentle exfoliating properties to helping with skin brightening and repairing wounds through its various enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.

But how do the enzymes in green or unripe papaya work for your skin? To understand how this miracle fruit can benefit your skin health, we’ll focus on two enzymes: chymopapain and papain.

Although papain and chymopapain can be harvested from the fruit, they are most abundant in the leaves of the immature fruit. They are the most important enzymes in papaya. 

This proteolytic enzyme breaks down proteins that hold dead skin cells together, creating an exfoliating effect that keeps skin smooth (6).

Although papain and chymopapain are the most important enzymes, they are not the only enzymes worth noting in papaya. Enzymes like lysozymes, found in the papaya’s unripe fruit, are great for their immune-boosting function and ability to defend against bacteria, making them multi-purpose (7). 
Key vitamins and minerals are in 100g of ripe fruit and papaya seeds (8).

Key vitamins and minerals in 100g of ripe fruit and seeds of papaya

Retinol 

Each papaya contains 328 mg of vitamin A, also known as retinol, one of the cosmetic industry’s most popular ingredients. In recent years, this vitamin has become a staple in the skincare industry because it can transform the skin. 

These include changing your gene expression to assist with increased collagen creation by your skin, and as it’s one of the skin’s building blocks, it helps to maintain elasticity, hydration, and moisture content (9, 10).

Collagen is a major component of your body’s tissues and is found in your hair, skin, and nails. Your body naturally produces it; however, factors such as aging, sun damage, and diet can reduce its production (11).

Studies suggest that retinol helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles while thickening the skin, contributing to a healthier appearance (12).

Ascorbic acid

Known as vitamin C (61.8 mg), ascorbic acid is another popular cosmetic product for the skincare industry. 

Ascorbic acid plays many key roles in the body, including collagen creation. It also works as an antioxidant, protects the skin against UV A and B damage, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation, and aids in anti-aging (13, 14). Even though it’s difficult to stabilize, the benefits of this vitamin cannot be understated.

Anti-aging & antioxidant benefits

The vitamins and nutrients mentioned above contribute to the anti-aging and antioxidant properties of papaya enzymes. How does this work?

Papaya enzymes have been shown to contribute to slowing down oxidative stress in the body. When your body overproduces oxidants and free radicals, it can lead to negative effects such as chronic inflammation, which can cause a breakdown of collagen and skin damage (15).

Because of their role in collagen creation, the promotion of skin elasticity, and their anti-inflammatory properties, they also help reduce the formation of wrinkles (16).

However, the benefits don’t end there. Minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, and carotenoids in papaya also bring other benefits, which is why these nutrients benefit skin health (17).

Carotenoids in papaya

Serving as protective agents for your skin, carotenoids are a form of mainly yellow or orange pigment that contributes to your skin color. In papaya, these carotenoids come from their fruit, assisting in the skin’s defense against sun damage, smoking, and alcohol.

The mechanism at work here is that carotenoids defend against high amounts of free radicals, leading to better skin moisture content, texture, and elasticity. These factors will aid in promoting anti-aging and keeping you youthful and glowing (18, 19).

Papaya minerals for wound healing

Minerals such as magnesium, iron, and calcium found in papaya shoots and leaves have been shown to have great healing and restorative properties for wound healing. A study of burn victims showed that when injured, victims experienced a significant dip in copper, zinc, iron, and magnesium. When they applied cream containing magnesium on the injured places, it was shown to lower levels of inflammation, increase the healing rate, and might help scar healing by stabilizing collagen production (20).

However, more studies on humans are needed to confirm these side effects.

Working together, an increase in magnesium will help with iron absorption and metabolism, further helping in the wound-healing process and defending against developing anemia. It’s long been known that certain variations of magnesium help the body absorb iron from external sources more easily (21).

How to utilize papaya enzyme for skin benefits

Papaya has proven itself to be a superfruit, but how do you know what kind of papaya product will have the best benefits? When it comes to picking the right enzyme-containing products, it’s good to consider which concern you want to address. Here are some tips to help you choose your skincare products better.

Ways to choose quality papaya products

Do a patch test

Firstly, one of the best tips is always to do a patch test. If you’re considering adding a new product to your routine, do a patch test on your arm. It’s a great and easy way to determine whether you’re allergic to it. 

Choose based on your skin concerns

Different parts of the fruit contain different active ingredients and benefits. Paying attention to the labels when shopping will help you understand which parts of the fruit have been used.

This will determine which active will be most available in that product and which skin concerns it’ll address (22).

Three simple ways to use papaya in your skincare routine

Brightening Face Mask

Papaya’s brightening properties make it a great ingredient for your homemade face masks; you can receive its glowing benefits by combining it with turmeric powder and yogurt.

  • ¼ cup of mashed papaya
  • ½ tablespoon of turmeric powder
  • One teaspoon of unsweetened yogurt

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Once you’ve thoroughly mixed it, apply a thin layer on your face and avoid your eyes. Leave this on for 15 minutes before rinsing off.

Exfoliating Body Scrub:

This scrub is a great way to use the gentle exfoliation from the ascorbic acid in papaya. It will leave your skin smooth, soft, and radiant. It is also recommended to be careful when using oil or the different kinds of oil you use, as it can clog your pores, leading to acne.

  • ½ cup finely ground sea salt or brown sugar
  • One smashed papaya
  • Two tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:

Blend the papaya until smooth, and add the sea salt or sugar until you reach your desired consistency (not too coarse or smooth). Gently massage all over your body and enjoy your new, rejuvenated skin.

Deep Conditioning Hair Mask

This mask helps you remove buildup from the scalp, leaving you refreshed and great-smelling while moisturizing your scalp.

  • ¼ cup of crushed papaya
  • Two tablespoons of aloe vera gel

Directions:

Combine the two ingredients well in a bowl. Apply to your hair and scalp, letting it sit for about 15- 20 minutes before rinsing off. 

Potential side effects of papaya 

Although including papaya in your diet or skincare routine can bring out many benefits, there can also be some downsides and side effects you should be aware of. If you think that you are allergic to papaya, it’s always a good idea to get yourself tested before consuming or using any products containing papaya, or you should do a patch test beforehand. 

Potential side effects

Here are some of the side effects you should look out for:

  • Skin irritation 
  • Allergic reactions
  • Stomachache 
  • Carotenemia (if you excessively eat papaya, this might cause a discoloration of your skin, creating the appearance of a more yellow hue)

However, more studies on humans are needed to confirm these side effects.

Substitutes for papaya in skincare

If you don’t have good papaya available in your region, don’t worry! There are plenty of other natural ingredients that can be a great alternative to papaya in helping you achieve glowing skin. Here are some suggestions depending on your need for your skin conditions:

Exfoliation

  • Oatmeal 
  • Brown sugar

When combined with the right ingredients, these two kitchen staples are great gentle exfoliators for the skin.

Brightening

  • Tumeric 
  • Yogurt

Used in ayurvedic culture, turmeric is known to brighten skin because of the curcumin it contains. Besides, yogurt contains lactic acid, making it a great brightening partner.

Hydration

  • Shea butter
  • Coconut oil

Because of its high fatty acid content, shea butter is a great moisturizer harvested from a few West African countries. Coconut oil is another great moisturizer. Great at being anti-inflammatory, the oil helps improve the skin barrier, resulting in better moisture retention.

Does papaya enzyme lighten skin?

Papaya can lighten the skin because of the enzyme lignin peroxidase, which plays an important role in breaking down the eumelanin responsible for the absorption of UV rays and the creation of your tan. Companies can harvest this enzyme to create skin-lightening products. The fruit also provides exfoliative and brightening properties because of its retinol and ascorbic acid content.

Which fruit is best for skin glow?

Papaya, of course! The presence of retinol and ascorbic acid helps this fruit deliver a one-two punch when it comes to nurturing your perfect, glowy skin.

At what age does your face change most?

People often notice the most significant change at the average age of 50. In women, this is heavily affected by menopause and can lead to skin sagging and thinner lips due to the decrease in collagen and estrogen. In men, testosterone was also shown to decrease (23).

Does papaya remove acne scars?

The skin-lightening effects of retinol and ascorbic acid in papaya will have a positive effect on the lightening and reduction of the appearance of acne scars. Additionally, because papaya enzymes aid in collagen production will also count toward your acne scars healing and possibly disappearing.

Summary

Papaya has earned its spot in the natural skincare industry; it’s shown to have multiple positive health benefits, whether consumed orally or applied to the skin. From strengthening collagen production to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the papaya enzyme benefits are endless.

Hopefully, this article will help you understand some of the amazing benefits of papaya  and the various applications it provides. If you have an ingredient you’d like to know more about, comment below.

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Amy20MD 1

Medical reviewed by Amy Rogers, MD MPH FACPM

Preventive Medicine, Public Health, Lifestyle Medicine, Pandemic Response, Global Health

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