As far as active ingredients in skin care are concerned, we generally have a good understanding of what everyone’s roles are. When it comes to brightening, vitamin C is our go-to; salicylic acid fights congestion, retinol slows the ageing process, and hyaluronic acid seals in moisture keeping our skin plump and hydrated.
However, there is one other name that appears on many ingredient lists, but no one really knows what it does or what it is. We’re talking about the elusive ‘peptide’.
We know peptides are a good thing, but when pushed any further on what exactly they are? We’re left scratching our heads.
So in order to find out exactly what it means when a cream or serum says it’s “full of peptides,” we did some research.
What are peptides?
Here’s a quick, simplified science lesson before we get started. Peptides are chains of amino acids that act as messengers within the body. The body uses them to build essential proteins like collagen and elastin. In the absence of these proteins, we form wrinkles, brittle nails, dry hair and sagging skin.
The idea is that by applying them topically to our skin, peptides signal our cells to begin producing more collagen, resulting in firmer skin.
Why do we need to use them in our skin care routine?
Although they’re naturally occurring within the body, after we turn 30 our collagen stores begin to deplete and the communication channels that peptides use to convey messages slow down, which is why we constantly need to top up our supplies.
When peptides are applied to wrinkles or sagging skin, it sends a signal to your body to focus its rejuvenation and repairing process on this particular area. To plump up this area, the body may produce more collagen or hyaluronic acid.
Are there different types of peptides?
The typical peptide varieties to look for when applying skin care include:
Carrier peptides: These are designed to boost collagen
Enzyme inhibitor peptides: These prevent the skin’s natural collagen stores from being depleted
Signal peptides: These peptides signal different parts of the skin to produce collagen, elastin, and other types of proteins
Neurotransmitter peptides (otherwise known as the ‘Botox compound’): These peptides smooth wrinkles by inhibiting the release of chemicals that cause muscle contractions when we feel emotion.
When incorporating peptides into your skin routine, we recommend looking for moisturisers, eye creams and masks that stay on the skin, rather than cleansers that are rinsed off immediately. By choosing formulas with added vitamins and antioxidants, such as niacinamide or vitamin C, you can also boost the effectiveness of your peptides.
What are the main benefits of peptides?
- Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Boosts hydration
- Strengthens and repairs the skin barrier
- Stimulates collagen production
- Prevents sagging
- Soothes redness and inflammation
- Corrects uneven skin tones
The best peptide skin care products to try
Main image credit: @caudalie
What do you think about peptides in skin care? Do you use them?