Peptides are the latest buzzword in anti-aging skincare. Peptides are chains of amino acids and fragments of proteins. Proteins are the fundamental building blocks of skin: they help the skin to remain intact. Adding peptides to your skincare regimen can revitalize those building blocks and help to improve the skin’s firmness, appearance of wrinkles, and texture changes on a cellular level.
There are four types of peptides used in cosmetics: signal peptides, carrier peptides, neurotransmitter inhibitor peptides, and enzyme inhibitor peptides.
Signal peptides can stimulate the production of collagen and elastin to make the skin look firmer and fuller. These peptides are short strings of amino acids that are formed when collagen breaks down - for example from sun exposure and other environmental aggressors. They tell your body that collagen has deteriorated and it needs to make more. Topically applied, peptides trick your body into generating more collagen.
Carrier peptides deliver trace elements, like copper and magnesium, which have been shown to improve collagen synthesis, skin elasticity, wound repair, and overall skin appearance.
Neurotransmitter inhibitors can reduce wrinkles because they help relax the muscles. Our repetitive muscle movements - squinting, frowning, puckering - literally etch the lines onto our face. By relaxing those muscles, lines fade over time. Think of these peptides as a form of natural Botox.
Enzyme inhibitor peptides can reduce the breakdown of collagen and other proteins by interfering with processes that break down those proteins. They may have some potential for reducing pigmentation, aka sun spots, age spots and post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation.
Peptides are a scientifically advanced ingredient in skincare products. They help support skin function, especially in aging skin, in a way that botanicals cannot. But they are not a magic wand. Effective skincare should be a carefully balanced blend of ingredients that nourish and hydrate, protect and replenish in order to correct the signs of aging and rejuvenate the skin.