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Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients: Peptides 101

Filed in: Clean Beauty

Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients: Peptides

As a beauty content creator, I’ve researched, written about, and tried over a hundred of anti-aging skin care products. Let me tell you, it’s challenging to stay on top of all the latest and greatest Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients (peptides) & skin-improving formulas. I’ve learned a ton over the years, and in particular about one ingredient that is worth considering in your skincare routine: peptides.

Because of the promising results of clinical research, such as a study published in December 2018 in the International Journal of Peptide Research and Therapeutics, peptides have become increasingly popular anti-aging skin-care ingredients. Let’s begin! 

Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients / What are peptides?

The term “peptide” is derived from the Greek word “peptos,” which means “digested.”

Peptides are short chains of organic compounds called amino acids that act as building blocks for certain proteins essential to skin health such as elastin, collagen, and keratin. Even though peptides consist of natural components (amino acids) most peptides that are used in personal care products are synthetic (manufactured).

Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients / Why do we need peptides?

Did you know that we lose 1% of our remaining collagen per year after age 30? Knowing this in your early years will help you plan your skincare routines, select products more carefully and create goals for your skin as you age. Without peptides, the skin is less intact, which can lead to a loss of firmness, the appearance of wrinkles, and a change in texture.

How they work is very interesting and somewhat complex. When you apply Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients, peptides, your body sees these peptides as ‘signals’ that you need to heal, which then tells your body to produce more collagen where you need it most. For example, if your skin is aging prematurely, those peptides might signal your skin to boost its production of collagen and even hyaluronic acid, plumping up your skin and restoring a healthy skin barrier. 

Types of peptides 

There are hundreds of peptides which causes confusion. One concern that comes up often when discussing peptides in skin care is which ones are best for what condition. (Some are better studied than others). Each is unique in its efficacy and function which is why I wanted to write about this. Here are some of the most popular peptides you should know about based on this peptide research.

  1. Pentapeptides: The first peptide to show skin-enhancing benefits when used topically. Matrixyl, or palmitoyl pentapeptide-3, is a pentapeptide that has been shown to stimulate collagen production.
  2. Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12: This six amino acid peptide helps improve firmness of the skin by boosting collagen production and building proteins keeping the correct elastin levels in the outer surface of the skin to keep it looking youthful, smooth, and full of bounce.
  3. Palmitoyl Oligopeptide: If you’re looking for barrier support, this might be the peptide for you. This peptide not only promotes the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid in the skin but also helps protect the skin from the damaging effects of UV rays.
  4. Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7: Inflammation does a number on skin and causes premature aging. It is thought that this peptide may be able to reduce inflammation and stimulate skin regeneration. They’re also great for those with sensitive skin. The best part is that it is completely safe and non-toxic to use in your skincare routine.
  5. Acetyl Hexapeptide-8: used to reduce wrinkles.
  6. Acetyl Tetrapeptide-5: minimizes the appearance of dark circles and under-eye bags. 
  7. Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1: can stimulate collagen synthesis in a human fibroblast culture and prevent its degradation after the exposure to UVA light.
  8. Copper Peptides: works as an antioxidant, promotes collagen and elastin production, and softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Copper is also an anti-inflammatory that speeds up wound healing, meaning it’s great for treating scarring, pigmentation, and redness caused by inflammation.
  9. Enzyme-Inhibitor Peptides. As their name suggests, enzyme-inhibitor peptides work by putting the brakes on the body’s natural process of losing collagen. Peptides derived from rice proteins work to retain more collagen, while certain soy-derived peptides can help prevent pigmentation

Natural alternatives to synthetic peptides in skincare products

Hibiscus: Thanks to the vitamin C present in the hibiscus flower, your body can increase its collagen production naturally, without any supplements.  It aids in the production of elastin and can smooth out lines naturally.

Pomegranate: Pomegranates are a skin wonder ingredient that are packed with amino acids. Applying products with pomegranate in them helps the skin to fight free radical damage because of the intense antioxidant content, plus it promotes collagen and elastin production as synthetic peptides do. 

Seaweed Extract: It is no wonder that seaweed extract in skincare products makes a great alternative to synthetic peptide ingredients. The sea is such a diverse & rich ecosystem, where life is intensely boosted by the water and life-giving sun. Seaweed is the main active ingredient in Crème De La Mer products, as it has such amazing anti-ageing benefits. 

Baobab Seed Oil: As the seeds are so rich in protein this makes it an excellent natural alternative to synthetic peptides. The protein structure allows it to assist in improving skin elasticity and it also delivers a cocktail of vitamins and omega oils for superb natural anti-ageing benefits.


Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients: Peptides 101


Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients / Peptides in food

One of the best ways to get more peptides into your diet is by consuming collagen-rich foods that are naturally found in many foods, including:

  • Meat
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Beans and lentils
  • Soybeans
  • Oats
  • Flaxseed
  • Hemp seeds
  • Wheat
  • Egg whites
  • Bone broth
  • Citrus fruits
  • Red and yellow vegetables
  • Garlic

Collagen peptide supplements

Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients / Peptides are also famously found in beauty supplements in the form of collagen peptides. In ingestible form, they work to support the skin and body from the inside out. Be sure to check out my blog post on which collagen powders I highly recommend and use. 


Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients: Peptides 101


6 Benefits of peptides for the skin

The exact benefit you’ll get from a peptide product depends on the type used. According to this review from 2012 in Experimental Dermatology peptides also support a healthy skin barrier and promote the healing of wounds; some even have a mild Botox-like effect that will relax muscles and treat fine lines.

    1. Supporting collagen production. They’re best known for their ability to stimulate collagen production in skin. Collagen plays a big role in firmness, elasticity and hydration levels, and its production naturally decreases with age. When applied topically, peptides are absorbed into skin and signal its cells to make more collagen, which helps minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
    2. Improving skin texture. Thanks to their ability to enhance your skin’s proteins, they have been shown to visibly improve the skin’s texture—notably helping ease fine lines and wrinkles. 
    3. Strengthening the skin barrier. Peptides can support your skin’s proteins. But certain types (oligopeptide) can also stimulate skin regeneration and the production of hyaluronic acid (which supports the skin’s moisture barrier) and aids the skin in dealing with environmental stressors, like UV rays. 
    4. Calming irritation. Some peptides like Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 have evidence of easing inflammation in the skin. 
    5. Safe for all skin types. Unlike retinol and some chemical exfoliants (like AHAs), peptides generally don’t cause irritation or redness and are safe to use on all skin types.
    6. Can help clear breakouts. Some peptides are antimicrobial, meaning they can kill bacteria that cause acne.

Be careful

Generally, these are well tolerated by most individuals. After all, your body makes its own peptides. 

  • If you have sensitive skin or have had an adverse reaction to peptide products in the past, use caution when trying a new one. Test it out on your outer cheek or forearm for a few weeks before applying it broadly.
  • Check out the rest of the INCI list (aka the ingredient list) to make sure there aren’t other ingredients that may trigger a reaction for your skin and do a patch test prior to using. Again, this warning is especially true if you have sensitive skin, known skin irritants, or have an inflammatory skin condition. 

How to choose the right products for you

  • Don’t waste your money on a cleanser that contains peptides because you’re just rinsing off all that peptide anyway. 
  • Check the product label to see if peptides are listed close to the top of the ingredient list. 
  • Make sure your product is packaged in an opaque container, which will keep the formula stable by shielding it from direct sunlight and intense heat.

Skincare ingredients you should never mix

Yes, you can use peptides and vitamin C together. However, if you are prone to sensitivity or have a dry skin type, using these ingredients together will result in further irritation and redness. You don’t want that right?  I recommend alternating the time of day you apply each ingredient onto the skin. Use peptides as part of your nighttime routine and vitamin C in the morning to avoid any unwanted side effects and irritation.

Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients: Peptides / The takeaway

Peptides seem to be a highly effective way to support your skin barrier, promote collagen, and enhance your skin’s texture as you age. While there is much to be learned about the different amino acid chains, the research so far is very promising.

Anti-Aging Skincare Ingredients: Peptides 101

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