You’ve likely heard about the power of peptides when it comes to skin rejuvenation. Peptides can help build up a strong skin barrier, inspire collagen and elastin production for firmer, plumper skin, and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Peptides can also help ease inflammation, reduce redness, help repair photodamage and promote a more even skin tone. Here we will break down the science behind peptides, what they can do for the skin and the most effective way of delivering them topically.
What is a Peptide?
Peptides are strings of amino acids that are naturally occurring in the body that signal cells to perform certain actions or tasks. They are the building blocks of proteins like collagen and elastin and are known for their cell-communicating ability in helping skin repair itself. When used in skincare, peptides often target collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid and other naturally occurring ingredients that support the look of youthful skin. Peptides are an important category of ingredients in today’s skincare products because they can be used to address a variety of concerns, and they work in different ways to improve the health and appearance of skin.
How Do Peptides Work?
All peptides are unique; there are many types and they all work in different ways.1 Regardless of which part of the skin they are targeting, they are known as messengers, with the ability to deliver a specific message to a specific target in the skin.
One common message that peptides deliver is a signal to skin cells to produce collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid, three natural components of the skin that create the scaffolding of the skin (helping skin to look firmer, plumper and more resilient). Elastin, collagen and hyaluronic acid production declines as we age, leading to skin that is less firm and plump with surface fine lines and wrinkles. Peptides can support and supplement the skin’s naturally occurring components to minimize the visible effects of aging.
There are other types of peptides, called neuropeptides, that are thought to work on our neurotransmitters to limit facial muscle movement. This helps smooth the appearance of surface (expression) lines. Neuropeptides work in a preventative way to reduce the signs of aging and improve skin repair for a youthful, healthier- looking appearance.
The Delivery is Key to Peptide Performance
Peptides are typically included in skincare products to target a specific part of the skin. They are used individually, and in combination, to meet different aesthetic objectives. Regardless of the type of peptide being used in a skincare formulation, the delivery of the peptides to the right targets in the skin is an important consideration in the formulation and impacts the benefits you can expect to receive by using the product.2 Talk to your skincare professional about which peptide-containing products might be best for your personal skincare goals.
1Bowes, L. Integrating topical peptides into aesthetic practice and skin care routines. Journal of Aesthetic Nursing 2013; 2(1): 27-31.
2Austin, J. Pharmaceutical Strategies for the Topical Dermal Delivery of Peptides/Proteins for Cosmetic and Therapeutic Applications. Austin J Pharmacol Ther 2014; 2(6): 2-10.