My skin has been sore and inflamed with a Mrs Angry flush to my cheeks for the last couple of days due to testing a cleanser that didn't suit me at all. I don't know what made me turn to Chella Enzyme Formula Exfoliating Crema Mask - if anything, an exfoliator could make things worse - but I am very glad that I did. Ten minutes or so later, Chella's mask (billed for sensitive skins and rosacea)  had calmed my skin down significantly and half an hour later it was soft, clear and no longer red. The effect lasted for at least another day.

Chella's exfoliating mask has both alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and enzyme. AHAs and enzymes perform different functions to achieve exfoliation; that is, to remove dead cells on the skin’s outer layer. AHAs loosen and lift the top layer of dead cells, primarily composed of keratin (a protein), while proteolyitc enzymes dissolve it.

AHAs can irritate sensitive skins and with frequent usage, the effectiveness levels off; the skin has the ability to adapt to treatments with "accommodation response". It is difficult for cosmetics companies to formulate with enzymes since they are highly sensitive to solvents and tend to break down, losing their effectiveness very quickly. However, when stabilized, enzymes can serve a catalytic function and help improve the activity of other ingredients in a formulation.

Chella's AHAs come from sugar cane, malic acid (from apples) and lactic acid, which comes from sour milk and is relatively gentle. The enzyme exfoliator is protease, an enzyme that breaks long proteins down into short ones. In addition, Chella has added a host of botanical extracts such as inflammation reducing ginger and licorice. Butcher's broom (ruscus aculeatus) is also an anti-inflammatory and contains chemicals that attach to and strengthen blood vessels. Horse chestnut trees (particularly the seeds) contain a saponin called escin. This is supposed to strengthen veins and capillaries by blocking an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which can breakdown of proteoglycans (part of the structure of capillary walls).

There is much to like about Chella's spa-level range of products - I am enjoying the face and body cream and Mark, our reader reviewer, liked the skin firming serum and they have a clever approach to making sunscreens safe. Now, if only they could take a hard look at their preservatives, which typically use irritants such as phenoxyethenol (also a toxin) and sodium hydroxide, the harsh chemical used as a hair relaxer (as exposed in Chris Rock's new movie).


Water (Aqua), Glycerin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Lactic Acid, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cyclomethicone, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Protease, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Pyrus Malus Fruit Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Ruscus Aculeatus Root Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Yeast Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Juice, Panthenol, (Pro-Vitamin B5), Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, (Vitamin E Acetate),  Glycerine, Disodium Edta, Bisabolol, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Citric Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.