Enzyme in Cosmetics


Vinay Kumar Singh
General Manager-Technical,
Mikasa Cosmetics Limited,
Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Enzyme is a substance produced by a living organism, which act as a Catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction. These are effective cellular catalysts responsible for controlling thousands of reactions in the cell. At any given moment, all of the work being done inside any cell is being done by enzymes.

Enzymes have extremely interesting properties that make them little chemical-reaction machines. The purpose of an enzyme in a cell is to allow the cell to carry out chemical reactions very quickly. These reactions allow the cell to build things or take things apart as needed. This is how a cell grows and reproduces. At the most basic level, a cell is really a little bag full of chemical reactions that are made possible by enzymes.

Discovered in 1833, but in 1926  it was established that enzymes were special, active proteins. Diastase the first to be extracted (from malt) was eventually shown to be amylase, an enzyme that converts starch to sugar. Enzymes are highly specific and complex protein catalysts that increase the rate at which reactions occur. At the temperature and pH usually present in the cells, most chemical reactions would not proceed fast enough to maintain cell viability without enzymes.

Enzymes are specific for the type of reaction they catalyse, and they may be specific for the type of substrate they use: therefore, there are no by-products and no side effects.

Enzymes work by a shape recognition method, the substrate must form a complex with the enzyme. When the enzyme locks onto the substrate a reaction (energy) will occur. When this happens, the substrate then binds with the enzyme’s reactive site.

Enzymes are made from amino acids, and they are proteins. When an enzyme is formed, it is made by stringing together between 100 and 1,000 amino acids in a very specific and unique order. The chain of amino acids then folds into a unique shape. That shape allows the enzyme to carry out specific chemical reactions.

For example, the sugar maltose is made from two glucose molecules bonded together. The enzyme maltase is shaped in such a way that it can break the bond and free the two glucose pieces. The only thing maltase can do is break maltose molecules, but it can do that very rapidly and efficiently. Other types of enzymes can put atoms and molecules together. Breaking molecules apart and putting molecules together is what enzymes do, and there is a specific enzyme for each chemical reaction needed to make the cell work properly.

Maltose is made of two glucose molecules bonded together (1). The maltase enzyme is a protein that is perfectly shaped to accept a maltose molecule and break the bond (2). The two glucose molecules are released (3). A single maltase enzyme can break in excess of 1,000 maltose bonds per second, and will only accept maltose molecules.

Coenzymes and Cofactors:

• Some enzymes consist only of proteins and contain no other chemical groups. Other enzymes, the globular conjugated proteins require an additional chemical component, known as a cofactor.

• Either the cofactor can be inorganic or a complex organic molecule called a coenzyme. Many of the coenzymes are derivatives of vitamins, other enzymes depend on specific cofactor minerals.

• Many coenzymes are the water-soluble B vitamins, such as calcium pantothenate, niacin and pyridoxine hydrochloride. Cofactors include the following metals: zinc, iron, magnesium, copper, and others.

Classification Of Enzyme:The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology have developed a nomenclature for enzymes, the EC numbers; each enzyme is described by a sequence preceded by "EC".

  • EC 1, Oxidoreductases: catalyze oxidation/reduction reactions
  • EC 2, Transferases: transfer a functional group (e.g. a methyl or phosphate group)
  • EC 3, Hydrolases: catalyze the hydrolysis of various bonds
  • EC 4, Lyases: cleave various bonds by means other than hydrolysis and oxidation
  • EC 5, Isomerases: catalyze isomerization changes within a single molecule
  • EC 6, Ligases: join two molecules with covalent bonds.

Enzymes in cosmetic formulations
Enzymology is a new research area in dermatology and cosmetics that tries to discover how enzymes can improve skin appearance and prevent skin problems. The cosmetics sector is interested in enzymes that enhance the beauty of the skin.

The use of coenzymes and cofactors in cosmetics may represent a safe way to promote the efficient functions of the enzymes in the skin to help maintain the healthy appearance of the skin.

The coenzymes and cofactors are stable, low in molecular weight and should penetrate through the stratum corneum to help activate the enzymes present.

They are relatively easy to formulate into cosmetics and most important, these materials offer a good degree of safety when topically applied.

The cosmetic industry however, has for some time now been using the  enzymes for resurfacing and skin smoothing. Enzymes have proven to be a very useful tool for the skin treatment therapist in treating many the skin conditions related to skin aging, acne, congestion and pigmentation.

Enzymes as anti-free radicals:
One area where the topical application of enzymes has been shown to have significant benefits is in skin protection.

Some materials with excellent cosmetic stability exist. They are enzymes with the ability to capture free radicals, preventing damage to the skin caused by environmental pollution, bacteria, smoke, sunlight and other harmful factor. Here the enzyme can work successfully on the surface of the skin.

There is no need for them to penetrate down to the living cells (although it might be helpful). Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous protective enzymes is superoxide dismutase. (SOD) This is found in almost all-living organisms and works to protect the cell from free radical oxygen attack in the aqueous environment.

Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) and Catalase:
SOD in combination with catalase is responsible for protecting the proteins from aging due to oxidation. SOD works by dismutation, a process by which a dangerous highly reactive oxygen free radical is converted to a less reactive form.

It is important to aerobic cells that the oxygen molecule be completely reduced to two water molecules by accepting four electrons.

If oxygen is only partially reduced by accepting one electron, the product is the superoxide radical.

They may help to slow the visible signs of aging and the damaging effects of the environment on the epidermis. Their actions are affected by temperature and pH. Some enzymes depend on the presence of other enzymes, called coenzymes, to function, or they depend on a specific body temperature

May be that key to the fountain of youth is just around the corner.
Enzyme most frequently used in cosmetics, called proteolyticenzymes, break down proteins so that the skin can better absorb their components and so promote cell growth and renewal.

The efficacy of papain (from the papaya) and bromelain (from the pineapple) for the skin has been demonstrated, when used as  ingredients in cosmetic products.

Going beyond the proteolytic enzymes, the cosmetics industry has expanded its range of enzyme-based beauty products to meet the needs of every skin type, especially those that promote the formation of fats, antioxidants and collagen.

These other enzymes are as follows:
• DGAT-1, diacylglycerol acyltransferase: Boosts the action of retinoic acid, which accelerates epidermis and hair renewal.
•  SOD, superoxide dismutase: A star ingredient in anti-ageing formulas for its protective action against oxidative stress.
• Lysyl and prolylhydroxylases: Synthesize the collagen necessary to maintain the structure of the skin (they need vitamin C to function).

Enzymes as exfoliant:
Certain types of enzymes are good chemical exfoliants, as they dissolve and remove dead cells from the surface of the skin, leaving it smooth, fresh and bright. To enhance the effectiveness of these enzymes it is recommended to combine them with other chemical peels, such as certain vitamins.

Oily skin prone to acne, for instance, benefits from a combination of salicylic acid (BHA) and enzymes, whereas sun-damaged and uneven toned skin responds well to the alpha hydroxy acids (e.g., retinoic acid) combined with enzymes.

Superoxide dismutase with the ability to capture free radicals,It is proposed to use a combi-nation of SOD and peroxidase as free radical scavengers in cosmetic products because of their ability to reduce UV-induced erythema when topically applied.

Superoxide dismutase could be extracted from yeast, the peroxidase is found in aqueous extracts of fennel.

Another targeted application is the use of a peroxidase (lacto peroxidase) to prevent cosmetic formulations from bacterial attack. This system is based on enzymes that consume the oxygen present in a formulation.

Until recently, there really were no enzymes developed for functionality, safety and stability in a cosmetic system. Now it is possible to use certain enzymes, which provide protection. They exist as natural materials and do not require non-renewable resources for their production.

In the Cosmetics and Personal Care sector the increasing use of enzyme can be partially attributed to the move towards Organic compounds in place of Petrochemical based ingredients.

Although food and feed remain the largest industrial sectors for enzyme demand, enzymes are becoming increasingly popular in a variety of application for Cosmetics products, including hair dye, skin care, oral care and more recently sun care products. Major supplier of enzymes include BASF, Advanced Enzyme Technologies, DSM and others.

The market for global industrial enzymes is about to expand significantly over next five years, with the Cosmetics industry being one of the principle drivers.


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