Our Rating: 5 stars

Just as fall is upon us in New York City and children are carving out lanterns from pumpkins in preparation for Halloween, it is impeccable timing to review PureCeuticals Multi-Enzyme Pumpkin Peel ($40). The “multi-enzyme” part refers to fruit enzymes from pumpkin, pineapple as well as papaya. But as the product moniker indicates, it is in fact a peel, combining enzymes with alpha-beta hydroxy acids. AHA/BHAs loosen and lift the top layer of dead cells, primarily composed of keratin (a protein), while proteolytic enzymes dissolve it. In tandem, the two types of ingredients are meant to dramatically exfoliate and clarify skin texture.

Marta has previously noted that pumpkins have carved out a role in skincare. These gentle enzymes break down the outer layers of the skin, leaving it looking fresher and feeling softer by digesting the dead skin and decongesting pores. Moreover, pineapple extract (or bromelain) as well as papaya (or papain) enzymes are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. The peel contains 2% pharmaceutical grade glycolic acid. Glycolic acids are extremely effective and (relatively speaking) gentle, as well as natural (sugar cane is one source). There is also willow bark extract, containing salicylic acid, a BHA that is a natural exfoliant and is used in many acne treatments because of its ability to help skin shed dead cells and clear pores; it can also stimulate new cell formation.

The multi-enzyme peel also includes asafetida extract, a skin whitener used as an alternative to hydroquinone and kojic acid. The resin is extracted from the roots of ferula foetida, traditionally used in Indian and Chinese medicines. Testing reportedly revealed the ingredient has excellent anti-tyrosinase activity. The extract is recommended for evening out skin tone and reducing age spots and hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage and actinic aging.

The enzyme peel is considerably stronger than the PureCeuticals Pumpkin Enzyme Cleanse, which contains the gentler AHA lactic acid, derived from milk. PureCeuticals was developed by an esthetician, Marlene Weber; thus, is properly accompanied with instructions in order to avoid undue irritation. I was genuinely impressed with the specificity of the instructions, which clearly have the welfare of the user in mind. The peel should not be used more than weekly or combined with other exfoliating products, including retinols (these should be discontinued at least three days prior to peel use).

I had received a sample size of the Multi-Enzyme Peel and was able to use it for three weeks. The peel looks and smells rather like a pumpkin mask. I did experience a brief prickly sensation upon application as I had expected, per the instructions, but the sensation did dissipate quickly. I left the peel on for the minimum of 7 minutes, and then lightly massaged my skin to loosen dead skin cells before washing it off. I don’t believe that a product has to tingle in order to work, but in this case that prickly sensation definitely made my skin feel energized and all those hard-working enzymes and acids certainly left me looking revitalized!

Ingredients: Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) pulp, purified water (aqua), helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, persea gratissima (avocado) oil, zea mays (corn) kernel meal / starch, alkyl benzoate, glycerine, pharmaceutical grade glycolic acid, bromelain (pineapple enzyme), papain (papaya enzyme), asafetida extract (water, butylene glycol, ethoxydiglycol, ferula foetida (asafetida) root extract), yeast extract (plant pseudocollagen), salix nigra (willow) bark extract, calendula officinalis (calendula) flower extract, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, allantoin, panthenol, daucus carota sativa (carrot) root extract, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E acetate), phenoxyethanol (and) caprylyl glycol (and) sorbic acid, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil and olibanum (frankincense) oil