bromelain skincare benefits

Have you heard? There’s a new exfoliant on the skincare block.

Word on the street is that it works just like glycolic acid – minus the irritation. Plus, it’s natural, too.

Meet Bromelain. It’s been used in folk medicine to treat all kinds of ailments and now it’s helping our skin become brighter and smoother, too…

Or not? Here’s everything you need to know about bromelain in skincare:

What Is Bromelain?

Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple stem and pineapple juice.

Enzymes are chemicals that speed up the rate of chemical reactions by lowering their activation energy.

For example, enzymes allow reactions that would literally take millions of years to occur in just a few milliseconds!

Or reactions that would normally require dangerously high-temperatures occur at normal body temperatures when enzymes are around to do their job.

Cool, huh? But… what does this mean for your skin?

Bromelain Benefits: What Does It Do For Skin?

Bromelain is used in skincare products for two reasons:

1. Bromelain Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Until a few years ago, Bromelain was mostly known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

When taken orally, it’s often used as a remedy for arthritis and digestive problems and even as a complementary treatment for cancer patients.

In skincare, it’s mostly used to help reduce the pain, bruising and redness that results from invasive cosmetic procedures.

If you’re ever going under the knife in the name of beauty, your doctor may prescribe you a bromelain cream to help you during the recovery process.

2. Bromelain Exfoliates Skin

In recent years, bromelain has found its way into skincare products for another reason: it has exfoliating properties, too.

Like exfoliating acids (think glycolic and salicylic), bromelain breaks down the proteins that hold your skin cells together. Once this glue loosens up, dead cells “fall off” your skin.

The difference? Glycolic acid & co are very pH dependant. If the pH is too high or too long, they won’t work. Bromelain isn’t as fussy.

It also doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the skin, so it’s less likely to irritate it. Mind you, if you have sensitive skin, it may still irritate it – with your skin type, you never know what may trigger the alarm.

The real problem with bromelain? There’s very little research it works as an antioxidant.

Research shows that 35% bromelain helps wound debridement in rats. But in your exfoliants and serums, bromelain is more likely present at a 1% or lower concentration. Way, way lower!

What does this mean? Bromelain may be an effective exfoliant – we just don’t know for sure yet. In the meantime, I’m sticking to salicylic acid.

Related: The Complete Guide To Enzyme Exfoliants: What They Are, What They Do, And How To Use Them

bromelain skincare

Does Bromelain Has Any Side Effects?

Bromelain can cause irritations and allergies. If that happens, ditch bromelain (and pineapples) and never get close to it again.

It’s also recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding don’t use Bromelain without consulting their doctor first.

Related: Skin Irritation Or Allergy? How To Tell The Difference

What Are The Best Skincare Products With Bromelain?

  • Colbert MD Intensify Facial Discs ($70.00): Available at Dermstore and SpaceNK
  • Image Skincare Iluma Intense Brightening Exfoliating Powder ($34.00): Available at Dermstore
  • Kate Sommerville Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($85.00): Available at Cult Beauty, Nordstrom, SpaceNK and Ulta

The Bottom Line

Derived from pineapple, bromelain has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that soothe redness and relive pain. It may also exfoliate skin, but if it’s too soon to tell if it’s better than acid exfoliants like glycolic.

Have you tried bromelain skincare products? Share your thoughts in the comments below.