Do you ever find yourself mystified by the claims beauty companies make about exotic ingredients? Do you sometimes feel you’d need a degree in chemistry to figure out what you’re putting on your face?
Fear not, we’re here to demystify everything for you.
This week: Peptides, what are they, how do they work and are they the super skin saving ingredient we are lead to believe?!
What are peptides?
Peptides are small molecules which are very similar to proteins – in fact, the only real difference is that proteins are larger and more complex. Both peptides and proteins consist of amino acids, but proteins have more ‘strings’ of amino acids.
Peptides occur naturally in the skin, and they’re added to skin care products to activate the skin’s own healing and regeneration processes.
Sometimes, you’ll see peptides named according to the number of amino acids they contain, such as dipeptide (two amino acids) and tripeptide (three amino acids).
Remember the tv advert which touted the presence of ‘pentapeptides’ in a product? Pentapeptide just means a molecule which has a string of five amino acids… so now you know!
How do peptides work?
Peptides which are found in the skin do several different jobs.
One of their roles is to ‘send messages’ to the skin. For instance, collagen is a protein which keeps skin firm and elastic. When it breaks down, it forms specific peptides. The presence of these peptides then signals to the skin that it needs to produce replacement collagen. Adding signal peptides to skin care triggers the same reaction.
End result? Firmer, younger looking skin.
Matrixyl is the commercial name for a popular signal peptide.
It’s also thought that other peptides (‘neuropeptides’) might block the transmission of signals from nerves to muscles, mimicking the effects of Botox.
So, if you’re looking for a less extreme alternative to needle jabs in the forehead (ouch), products with neuropeptides could be worth a shot.
Use Peptides for:
If you have mature or ageing skin peptides can help improve skin elasticity and firmness by stimulating skin to produce collagen. Skin care guru Caroline Hirons compares their effect to “scaffolding… for your face“.
If you have scars or other blemishes copper peptides help to heal wounds and sooth inflammation.
You’ll have the best results if you use the products consistently, following the directions on the product. If the label says use twice a day, then do just that.
Avoid Peptides if:
If you want fast results, you won’t see this with peptides as they work slowly. To aggressively target skin concerns, we’d point you towards products containing Alpha-Hydroxy Acids or retinoids.
Peptides in commercial skincare products are generally safe to use. But as always, if you do notice an adverse reaction to a product, stop using it.
Some people have experienced irritation when using copper peptides, typcially found in treatments for healing scars and wounds. It’s probably better to avoid using high concentrations of copper peptides on areas of delicate skin such as the undereye area.