What Are Peptides and What Are the Anti-Aging Benefits?
Peptides are one of the most talked about ingredients in anti-aging skincare. When applied to your skin, they demonstrate remarkable benefits: revitalization, strengthening and more resilience. Peptides are not the complete answer to slowing aging, but rather a great asset to add to your skin care regimen.
What are Peptides in Skin Care?
Peptides are short or long chains of amino acids that act as building blocks of proteins such as elastin, collagen, and keratin. These proteins are the foundation of your skin and are responsible for its texture, strength, and resilience. Peptides have a myriad of uses in the body, from being the building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and an energy source.
Without peptides, skin is less intact, which can lead to loss of firmness, the appearance of wrinkles, a change in texture, and less bounce. Scientific research has proven that peptides can support your skin on multiple levels, including firming, soothing, and hydrating. Some peptides have demonstrated a remarkable skin-soothing effect, while others can improve the appearance of wrinkles and loss of firmness. Peptides can even help soften the look of expression lines.
In general, without these proteins, you will see wrinkles, brittle nails, and dry hair that is prone to breakage.
How Do Peptides Work?
If peptides are in our bodies, why do we need more?
Experts report that we lose 1% of our remaining collagen per year after age 30. Our skin’s natural communication channels also slow down over time. Just putting more peptides in your skin doesn’t result in increased peptides. Instead, when you use peptides your body sees them and signals that you need to heal. If your skin is aging prematurely, those peptides might signal your skin to boost its production of collagen and even hyaluronic acid, plumping your skin and restoring a healthy barrier.
Simply put, peptides stimulate cells to produce proteins. Peptides can penetrate the outer layer of the skin so instead of sitting on top of the skin, they sink in more deeply. You can think of them as messengers to the other cells.
Benefits of Peptides
Peptides in skincare products can offer a multitude of benefits including:
Improved skin barrier. The skin barrier is the body’s line of defense against bacteria, ultraviolet rays, pollution, and other toxins. The skin barrier can be damaged from over-exfoliation, exposure to cigarette smoke, other pollution, or even poor sleep. Peptides help build a stronger barrier.
Helps to smooth fine lines & wrinkles
Increases elasticity or firmness
Helps to reduce skin redness, irritation, and inflammation while repairing the skin
Reduces breakouts (some peptides are antimicrobial and kill bacteria that cause breakouts)
Types of Peptides
There are hundreds of types of peptides. But, some peptides are more efficacious for the skin than others. When applied topically, peptides act as little messengers, triggering skin cells to perform specific functions such as building collagen and elastin, encouraging skin to look and act younger.
Here are groups of peptides that work well in skin care:
Signal (Communicating) Peptides
The most common peptides in skin care include the pentapeptides. These are known to stimulate the production of collagen, elastin, and other structure proteins that make skin appear firmer and fuller. They help generate fibroblasts to increase the production of collagen while decreasing the breakdown of collagen.
The most popular signal peptides are:
Palmitoyl Pentapeptide (also known as Matrixyl) - This peptide gives you the benefits of retinol without the irritation. Its regenerative properties include stimulating collagen, increasing skin thickness, and strengthening the epidermal/dermal junction to provide a smoother complexion.
Palmitoyl Tri-pepetide 38 or Matrixyl Synthe-6 - This peptide is the second generation of Matrixyl with a similar effect but more advanced properties.
Acetyl Octapeptide -3 or SNAP 8 - This peptide reduces wrinkle depth caused by contraction muscles used in facial expressions.
TGF Beta 1 - This peptide is used in skin care products to stimulate collagen and elastin production which speeds up wound healing. It has superior anti-inflammatory properties.
This group of proteins slow down muscle contractions, which can create fine lines over time.
The most well-known peptide in this group is:
Argiriliene - Acetyl Hexapeptide 3 - This peptide is known for its ability to slow down muscle contractions over time. It is often recommended as an adjunct product to those receiving Botox as a Botox extender. It can also relax your facial muscles, but not at the same level as Botox.
These peptides stabilize and deliver trace elements like copper and magnesium to the skin. Copper has been an especially popular ingredient in recent years, celebrated for its ability to improve collagen production, thereby firming up the skin and enhancing elasticity. It is necessary for wound healing and enzymatic processes.
Peptides in this group include:
Palmitoyl Tetra Peptide or Rigin - This peptide mimics DHEA and controls the production of chemical messengers that cause inflammation.
Copper Peptides - Stimulate collagen & breaks down free radicals
These peptides work by putting the brakes on the body’s natural deterioration of collagen. Peptides derived from rice proteins retain more collagen, while certain soy-derived peptides can help prevent pigmentation.
Peptides in Skin Care Facials and Products
Peptides stimulate repair, enhance collagen production without irritation (sometimes used as an alternative to retinol if you experienced sustained irritation), and preserve barrier functioning.
While it’s clear that peptides are special, they are not enough to transform your skin as an isolated ingredient. Peptides work well in tandem with vitamin C, niacinamide, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid. A formulation with just a single peptide is not the most effective. Peptides are best if formulated in a “cocktail” of various peptides and a base of hyaluronic acid.
But, a peptide mixed with Alpha Hydroxy Acid can make the protein less efficient.
Look at the product’s formulation for the stability of its ingredients, and its ability to penetrate the skin barrier. When adding a peptide product to your regimen, opt for one that stays on your skin like a serum or moisturizer. There is no lasting benefit if you use a peptide cleanser that you rinse off. Have a skincare professional help you select the right peptide formulation.
There are also skin care facial treatments that utilize peptides to firm and build collagen. At SkinTrust, the Beyond Botox Facial treatment utilizes the latest peptide technology with antioxidants, stem cells, and botanicals to leave your skin feeling lifted, and firmer with a more youthful appearance.
Limitations of Peptides
Peptides are an important part of your anti-aging skin care regimen. Even with the peptides currently available, research is still evolving on peptides. Be realistic with your expectations. Despite claims, peptides cannot noticeably plump lips. They do not work just like cosmetic procedures nor eliminate dark circles or puffy eyes. And they do not give you the same result as Botox. Claims otherwise are not supported by published, peer-reviewed research.
There are many different types of peptides, so have a skin care professional help you select the right product and formulation for your skin care concerns.
When reviewing products with peptides, be aware that the word “peptide” can sometimes be used as a marketing term. Use caution when you see this as it may require further investigation.
Peptides in Summary
Peptides are an essential ingredient in the fight against aging. Peptides should be part of your everyday skincare arsenal, as the need for cells to behave as healthy young cells requires daily attention. But remember to use skin care products with a cocktail of beneficial ingredients, as well as daily sun protection. This is the best thing you can do for the health and appearance of your skin.