Peptides for Skin: The Complete Guide
Winter has come, and while you may relish the dancing snowflakes making picturesque sceneries, the wind and cold are not your skin's BFF. But you've got an ally. Enter: peptides. They're, without a doubt, a skincare ingredient that put you in the fast lane to plump, resilient skin, and they're here to stay.
Regardless of the season, one thing is for sure: you can't underestimate the need for peptides in skincare, whether your skin is dry, oily, sensitive, or acne-prone. This post is a breakdown of peptides in skincare and features just about anything you need to know about this powerhouse ingredient. From which are the best peptides for skin, how to incorporate them into your routine, and what you can and can not mix peptides with, everything is here.
What are Peptides?
Before we go to the good bit, here's the science. Peptides are short amino acids strings (2-50) made by the body that act like building blocks of proteins for skin, such as collagen, elastin, and keratin — you know, those needed for a firm, elastic skin. Peptides used in skincare are lab-made, and they mimic the peptide's structure naturally found in the skin to provide an eclectic mix of benefits, depending on their type.
What types of Peptides are best for skin care?
As mentioned, peptides are made of up to 50 amino acids, meaning they're mutable. “All you have to do is add, subtract, or replace one of those amino acids, and then you have a new peptide that might have a different function,” says cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson via Bazaar.1
So we've got more types of peptides, each with its own benefits, from increasing firmness and elasticity to reducing inflammation, trapping moisture in, or even having antibacterial activity, ideal for acne sufferers.2
There are five primary types of peptides used as skincare actives:
- Signal Peptides: increase collagen production.
- Carrier Peptides: deliver copper to the skin to increase firmness.
- Neurotransmitter-Inhibiting Peptides: reduce wrinkles caused by lack of muscle activity.
- Antimicrobial Peptides: have antimicrobial activity and maintain skin health.
- Enzyme-Inhibitor Peptides: inhibit the activity of enzymes that degrade essential proteins (think collagen, elastin).
What Do Peptides Do for Your Skin?
Peptides' benefits for skin are endless, firstly because they're able to sink deep into the skin, acting like messengers that trigger cells to perform specific actions.3
Secondly, since peptides in skincare can have multiple structures, it makes them different; hence, they have various roles, depending on their type. From reinforcing the skin barrier to fighting aging signs to helping with acne and whitening dark patches, peptides do it all.4 Peptides are totally worth the hype!
Benefits of Peptides for the Skin
- Trigger collagen production, softening wrinkles
- Strengthen skin barrier
- Improve elasticity and firmness
- Soothe inflammation and rashes
- Possess antimicrobial properties
- Relieve dryness
- Lighten dark spots
Common Uses for Peptides in Skin Care Products
Peptides in skincare are used in all sorts of products, addressing diverse concerns, including wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, breakouts, and skin repair.
Nevertheless, the ideal peptide-infused products are serums, moisturizers, and eye creams. Since serums allow peptides to penetrate the outermost skin layer, they send signals to the cells to behave and increase collagen and elastin production, leading to firm, elastic and resilient skin.
At the same time, using a moisturizer with peptides keeps peptides on top of the complexion, where they bolster the protective barrier, hindering external aggressors from damaging the skin, relieving dryness, and soothing inflammations. Likewise, applying an eye cream spiked with peptides improves the skin condition, plumps, strengthens and minimizes puffiness and dark circles. P.S.: The best peptides for skin around the eyes are signal and carrier peptides.
Thanks to the gentle profile of peptides, they're easy to incorporate into your skincare regimen since they can be paired with all other potent actives, including vitamin C and retinol. FYI, peptides work amazingly with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide to vanish fine lines look, plump the skin, and fortify the protective barrier.
There's one exception, though: don't mix peptides with AHAs, like glycolic acid or lactic acid. Due to acids' low pH, peptides may alter their structure, compromising their activity and reducing efficiency.5
What are the potential side effects of Peptides?
As it's the case for most compounds naturally found in the skin, peptides are fairly tolerated by all skin types and aren't known to trigger irritations. Actually, the opposite — peptides relieve irritations, calm inflammations, and repair damaged skin, being a well-tolerated ingredient by folks with sensitive skin, rosacea, or seborrheic dermatitis.6
However, as with any other skincare ingredient, it's hard to make blanket statements because the reality is that everyone's skin is different. Hence, to rule out any possible allergic reaction, make a patch test before using your new peptide product.
Find the Best Peptides Products for You
If your vanity countertop is filled with products that didn't work, you'll be excited to find out we're preparing the first self-activated skincare line that meets our Full Of Standard and keep actives in and elements out. Stay tuned.
Until then, try our recommended products filled with peptides, clinically proven to deliver genuine benefits, packed with the best peptides for skin in serums, moisturizers, ampoules, and masks.
Words By: Ana Vasilescu
- Rebecca Norris. Here’s Why Peptides Deserve to Be Part of Your Skin Care Routine. Harper's Bazaar. February 2020. Source
- Rahnamaeian M, Vilcinskas A. Short antimicrobial peptides as cosmetic ingredients to deter dermatological pathogens. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2015. Source
- Schagen, S.K. Topical Peptide Treatments with Effective Anti-Aging Results. Cosmetics 2017. Source
- Marini A, Farwick M, Grether-Beck S, Brenden H, Felsner I, Jaenicke T, Weber M, Schild J, Maczkiewitz U, Köhler T, Bonfigli A, Pagani V, Krutmann J. Modulation of skin pigmentation by the tetrapeptide PKEK: in vitro and in vivo evidence for skin whitening effects. Exp Dermatol. 2012. Source
- Zapadka, Karolina L et al. “Factors affecting the physical stability (aggregation) of peptide therapeutics.” Interface focus vol. 7,6 2017. Source
- Resende DISP, Ferreira MS, Sousa-Lobo JM, Sousa E, Almeida IF. Usage of Synthetic Peptides in Cosmetics for Sensitive Skin. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021. Source
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