This week I’m here to tell you everything you need to know about peptides, one of the most talked-about ingredients in the field of “anti-ageing”. Often touted as magic ‘all-doing’ ingredients that can match up to cosmetic procedures? 💉 Let’s look into this!
Before we dive right in, I’ve been using the term ‘age-delaying’ lately, as opposed to ‘anti-ageing’. I feel like it’s more inline with what I’m personally trying to do. After all, we are lucky if we are able to age, not everyone gets that chance but I’m also not ashamed of wanting to delay the visible signs of ageing. What do you guys think about the term ‘age-delaying’? Does it matter to you which term is used? Let me know! 💕
What Are Peptides?
Peptides are cell communicating agents, made up of chains of amino acids. Certain combinations of amino acids make specific peptides. Different peptides can then combine together to form certain proteins. They are naturally found within the skin.
Examples of each would be:
- Glycine, arginine, lysine = amino acids
- Matrixyl (Palmitoyl Oligopeptide), Palmitoyl-tripeptide-38 = peptides
- Collagen, elastin, keratin = proteins
Proteins are essential as they are the building blocks of our skin and without peptides to support the proteins, you would see loss of firmness, texture changes and the appearance of wrinkles in your skin (boo!).
Peptides used in skincare products are often synthetic (made in a lab). This is because topically applied, natural forms of peptides can be easily broken down by the enzymes present in skin, to the point where they have no effect!
There are numerous different types of peptides and each one is responsible for a specific task. Within the ingredients list of your skincare products look for words that end in “peptide” – many also begin with “palmitoyl”.
How Do Peptides Work & What Do They Do For Our Skin?
In theory and in short, peptides really should not work because the molecules are simply too big to penetrate the skin (The 500 Dalton rule). However, studies have shown that peptides do indeed work and effectively too!
There are 4 ways in which peptides are thought to work:
1. SIGNAL PEPTIDES
Topically applied peptides that send chemical messages to the skin cells. These messages are a copy of the messages cells send to each other within the skin. These copy messages that signal peptides send tell the skin cells to behave in a particular way – such as building collagen or increasing elastin. These peptides can do this without even penetrating the skin’s barrier. Most peptides seem to work in this way.
Examples: Matrixyl, Copper Peptides, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Tripeptide-1.
2. ENZYME INHIBITOR PEPTIDES
These peptides are thought to work like retinoids do. Retinoids prevent the breakdown of collagen by blocking the enzymes that suppress collagen.
Examples: Trifluoroacetyl Tripeptide-2
3. NEUROTRANSMITTER PEPTIDES
These work by inhibiting acetylcholine release. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical message) that can cause muscles to contract. So inhibiting it will reduce muscle contraction. When our muscles contract in our face, we get wrinkles!
Examples: Argireline, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-28 and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38
4. CARRIER PEPTIDES
These peptides can be thought of as Hermes vans, getting your parcels of joy to you (unlike Hermes they always complete the task 😜). They can be used to hold and transport molecules (e.g. small amounts of Copper) to then be used on the skin for age-delaying purposes when applied.
Regardless of the way that peptides are working, studies conducted have shown that they can in fact stimulate collagen and elastin production to help firm the skin. They can also inhibit muscle contraction and therefore, smooth the appearance of wrinkles in the face. Thaaank you peptides! 🤘🏼
Do I Need Peptides In My Skincare Routine?
As we’ve seen above, peptides are powerful age-delaying ingredients to include in your skincare routine. Our cells need daily attention to remind them to behave like healthy, young cells. So, including peptides in your skincare routine will ensure that your skin cells receive that daily reminder! 💌
This is especially important when you consider that, daily, collagen is broken down in our skin (by UV rays, stress, age itself!) and so using a peptide that can stimulate collagen production is going to come as a welcome addition to any skincare shelf. But, it must be said, peptides require a long-term, committed relationship in order to truly attempt to delay the ageing process.
Another point well worth mentioning is that peptides need friends. You would be kidding yourself if you thought one single peptide can be the answer to all your skin’s concerns. You need a powerful cocktail of different products to address different concerns such as texture, pigmentation, scarring, acne, hydration and ageing (to name a few!). And so this is why you may include acids, vitamin C, antioxidants, retinoids and not forgetting your SPF, to your daily arsenal.
How Can I Include Peptides In My Skincare Routine?
So like everything, there are many formulations containing peptides out there. You can find peptides in serums, moisturisers, eye creams and in the form of boosters which can be added to your moisturiser/serum/oils etc. You may also find them in cleansers but I wouldn’t say they are the most effective way to include peptides into your routine as you put them on and wash them back off less than 2 minutes later and so they won’t have time to work. However, if you have a cleanser with them in and you like it then by all means keep using it!
The decision to include peptides really comes down to preference and what works well with your own, current routine. Plus, if you actually want to use them at all!
Why I mention your routine is because, for example, The Ordinary don’t recommend using their ‘Buffet’ serum with direct acids or L-AA (ascorbic acid). However, you can use it with niacinamide! So it’s about slotting them in, in a way that’s easy for you in relation to your other products.
In contrast to what The Ordinary say, Paula’s Skin doesn’t mention any contraindications of using their peptide booster with any other ingredients. Then you have Allies of Skin who will incorporate their peptides in with antioxidants such as Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate and even retinaldehyde. This is because peptides can actually help to strengthen the skin barrier and so work well with retinoids. Allies of Skin don’t mention any contraindications with other ingredients either.
I personally wouldn’t and don’t worry about using peptides with other products, unless specifically said by the brand you are using.
One Peptide or Multiple Peptides?
I would definitely look to include a product with numerous peptides in, as opposed to just one. This is because we know that each peptide performs a specific task. There exists peptides to boost firmness, smooth wrinkles, calm redness, enhance the exfoliation process, improve hydration and even brighten discolorations. So, an array of different peptides all in one product can perform multiple tasks for the skin!
One final thing to mention is to consider the form that the peptide-containing product comes in. If held in an open jar, every time you open the lid, the peptides are directly exposed to air and light. In this way they can be degraded very quickly and easily. So something to consider when you’re shopping around!
And so, I think it’s probably quite obvious that peptides cannot actually match up to cosmetic procedures! They’re unable to penetrate skin, most importantly, but they can communicate with cells in a way that could delay ageing (and therefore, the use of cosmetic procedures I suppose!).
So, I really hope that you find these ingredient spotlights helpful and informative. I love doing them! Next up will be a post dedicated to retinoids. You don’t want to miss it so make sure that you subscribe!
A review on the peptide product that I’ve been using will be coming in the next few weeks once I’ve used it for 4 weeks (a full skin cycle)!
Meanwhile, let me know your thoughts about this blog in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you!
Love & Knowledge,
S A M A N T H A