One of my favorite things about my husband is that he tends to see things in shades of gray. (No, no, not 50 shades, this isn’t that kind of blog post). But whereas I’m one of those people who tends to see things in terms of black and white, yes or no, absolutely yes or absolutely no, he has taught me to see possibilities. I’m now a person who uses less of the word always and more of words like usually, often, sometimes, possibly. Not words in my vocabulary half a decade ago!
That said, I still enjoy going out on an “extreme” limb once in a while. And here I go:
I HATE ENZYME POWDER. THERE IS NO REASON TO USE ENZYME POWDER, EVER.*
Ah, that felt good. I suppose (however begrudingly), there is still one exception:
*–UNLESS YOU ARE A CHEMIST, OR ARE EXTREMELY CAREFUL, AND ARE RELIGIOUS ABOUT pH BALANCE THROUGH PROPER DILUTION.
Now for the reason why: Enzyme powder is mostly sodium bicarbonate (AKA baking soda). In turn, sodium bicarbonate is a chemical that strips your skin of healthy oils.
Let me explain. The pH of the products you use is super important for maintaining healthy skin. Here’s how the pH scale works: It runs from 0-14 with 7 meaning neutral. The pH of skin naturally falls somewhere around 4.5 to 6.5, and is maintained by sebaceous glands, sweat glands, and normal skin flora, among others. This skin acidity is called the “acid mantle” (Exogenus Dermatology).
When you apply a product with a high pH, aka something alkaline (like baking soda), this negatively disrupts the skin barrier. A study on skin products found that using an alkaline cleanser, even once, can do damage to the skin (Dermatology). An alkaline cleanser disrupts the skin’s acid mantle (affecting the skin barrier), and changes the bacterial flora composition on the skin and the activity of the enzymes in the upper layers of skin, as these have an optimal pH level. And the damage is cumulative: The longer you use it, the more damage it does to your skin.
The other thing about the pH scale is that its logarithmic. So, sodium bicarbonate, with a pH of 8.31, is 10x more alkaline (and hence acid mantle-destroying) than water, with a pH of 7.00. And considering that most skin care products want to be gently exfoliating with a pH of 4.5 to 6.5, that means you’re looking at using an ingredient that is 100 to 10,000 times more alkaline and hence potentially skin-harming than usual skincare ingredients.
Is There an Exception to this Rule?
I hate the use of sodium bicarbonate on the skin, but there are two exceptions. One is if you use a carefully-formulated product, which is pre-formulated to have a pH of 4.5-6.5. (7.0 at the very highest).
The other is if you are a very careful, meticulous person and are willing to measure out enzyme powder carefully, measure out a dilution of water, use litmus paper and determine the pH, and use the product on your skin if and only if the pH is between 4.5 and 6.5. This, to me, seems like a lot of work (and I work in the skincare business). But, hey, if you want to go for it, just be careful.
What I Do Like About Dr. Oracle The Snow Queen Powder Enzyme Wash
The thing is, if Dr. Oracle The Snow Queen Powder Enzyme Wash didn’t contain sodium bicarbonate, or more precise instructions (measure exactly x teaspoons with y mL of water), I might like it.
It has papain and bromelain, both of which I love. Papain, also known as papaya proteinase-1, is a really exciting protein due to its inclusion of proteolytic (i.e., protein-digesting) enzymes. These enzymes gently dissolve old skin cells without dissolving new ones or harming the skin.
Bromelain, on the other hand, is an anti-inflammatory agent that is often used to treat bruising. The enzymes in bromelain may help to digest dead skin cells, exfoliating the skin better when it is topically applied. This stems from the fact that 35% bromelain solution has been found to assist in wound debridement in rats (Cellular and Molecular Biology, 2001).
So, if Dr. Oracle The Snow Queen Powder Enzyme Wash didn’t contain sodium bicarbonate, or had more precise dilution instructions, I would be OK with it as a once-a-week exfoliator. But as it is, I honestly can’t recommend it.
How to Use Enzyme Powder Wash
Dispense a dime sized amount of powder onto palm and add water. [FutureDerm addition: Precisely measure powder and water and an acidic serum, such as an AHA serum, in a 1:4:1 ratio. Use litmus paper to determine the pH of the mixture. If higher than 4.5-6.5, add more acidic serum.] Rub palms gently to create a lather. This powder wash can be used morning or night.
Make sure to close the cap after each use, to prevent water from entering the bottle and clumping the formula.
As much as I wish I could be cool and hip and recommend a baking soda facial wash, I cannot. It may strip the skin’s delicate acid mantle and, quite frankly, I don’t like it. I do, however, give Dr. Oracle The Snow Queen Powder Enzyme Wash points for having anti-inflammatory bromelain and gentle exfoliator papain. So sad it has the sodium bicarbonate!
Ingredients in Dr. Oracle The Snow Queen Powder Enzyme Wash
Sodium Sulfate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Calamine, Cellulose, Mannitol, Bromelain, Papain, Water, Caprylyl,1,2-Hexanediol