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Peptides for Skin: What They Are and What They Do

Peptides for Skin: What They Are and What They Do

You’ve probably heard the hype and seen peptides listed as an ingredient on your skincare products but are they an anti-aging must have? Thanks to our ability to share information so easily on social media, you’ve probably heard the word ‘game changing ingredient’ so many times that you’ve lost count, well you are going to hear it again, but we have the science to back up the claims. Let’s see why peptides are the real star of the show.  

What Are Peptides?

Peptides are linked chains of amino acids and are responsible for the strength, texture, and resilience of your skin by helping skin repair and heal. They’re widely known for being one of the most nourishing ingredients that you can put on your skin to keep it looking healthy and plump.

“Peptides help the ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin, as well as stimulate the production of collagen and elastin,”

“We have approximately 30,000 different peptides naturally in our body and these are small fragments that mimic proteins for a specific job,” explains ageing scientist Professor Derek Richard.

So, if peptides are already present in our body, why do we need more of them? The answer lies in aging, from the age of 20 we start to lose 1% of collagen each year. Smothering peptides on your skin doesn’t give you more of them, it does however send signals that your skin needs to heal so your body increases the production of collagen to help restore your skin barrier. Peptides trick your skin into thinking it’s been injured, so then your body goes into collagen production mode.

Peptides help reduce the appearance of fine lines

Benefits of Peptides

  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines
  • Strengthen skin barrier
  • Locks in hydration
  • Aids in collagen production
  • Makes skin firmer
  • Repairs damaged skin

All peptide products deliver similar benefits by clearing away cellular debris from collagen breakdown and stimulating collagen production, however individual peptides may do this in different ways.

Signal Peptides

These are the most common type of peptides used in skincare and for good reason, they are known to stimulate the production of collagen, elastin, and structural proteins to make the skin appear firmer and fuller. The main peptides in this group include:

  • Carnosine and N-acetylcarnosine
  • Trifluoroacetyl tripeptide-2
  • Most palmitoyl tripeptides and palmitoyl hexapeptides
  • Most tetrapeptides, including tetrapeptide-21 and tetrapeptide TKEK
  • Most hexapeptides, including hexapeptide-11 and hexapeptide-14

    EPI-gN Serum with signal peptides to stimulate collagen production

    Carrier Peptides

    Carrier peptides live up to their name by carrying trace elements like copper and magnesium to the skin. The most common ingredient is copper due to its ability to improve collagen production and firm the top layer of skin. Some carrier peptides used manganese in the form of manganese tripeptide-1.

    Neurotransmitter Peptides 

    This type of peptide is less common in skincare products than signal and carrier peptides, however they may decrease the appearance of fine lines by blocking the release of acetylcholine which aids in muscle contraction. This peptide literally works to relax your facial muscles, so they don’t contract as much, helping reduce fine lines and wrinkles. A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that these peptides can reduce certain wrinkle types by 30%. The main peptides in this group are:

    • Acetylhexapeptide-3
    • Pentapeptides, including pentapeptide-3 and pentapeptide-18
    • Tripeptide-3

    Enzyme-Inhibitor Peptides

    Here is another name’s sake peptide, enzyme inhibitor peptides do just that by putting the brakes on the body’s natural process of losing collagen by inhibiting the activity of chemicals in the aging process. These peptides can be derived from rice and work to retain more collagen whilst the soy-derived protein can help prevent pigmentation.

    Structural or Keratin Peptides

    These peptides are very specific and target dehydration and dryness. You may be more familiar with finding keratin in your hair products, however keratin derived structural peptides work to improve your skin’s barrier function, allowing it to hold more water, giving you a plumper look. Keratin peptides are usually from wool lipids as sheep’s wool if the most common source of keratin.

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