Peptides are powerful anti-aging skincare ingredients that reinforce essential proteins in the skin like collagen and elastin. These are the key proteins responsible for keeping your skin plump and firm.
Our skin’s natural collagen production slows down over time. We lose 1% of our remaining collagen per year after the age of 30. This decrease in collagen production causes wrinkles and a loss of skin elasticity, along with environmental damage from the sun and pollution.
The number one way to reduce the signs of aging on your skin is to encourage your body to make its own collagen. This is where peptides come into play.
Ahead, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about using peptides to smooth, repair, and hydrate your skin. (Even if you think you don’t need them!)
Peptides are short chains of amino acids naturally found in the skin that mimic functions like the production of collagen, elastin, and keratin. These proteins are the foundations of your skin and are responsible for its texture, strength, and resilience.
Found in every human cell, peptides play an important role in how the body functions. They prove essential to skin’s structure and function, important factors in firmness, texture, and overall appearance. Peptides have a myriad of uses in the body, serving as the building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and as an energy source.
When amino acids are added or subtracted from a peptide’s chain, its function completely changes. Because of this, there are hundreds of different peptides made from different combinations of amino acids. Peptides address concerns like reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, smoothing and firming, reducing inflammation, and locking in hydration.
Peptides act as a messenger signaling your body to produce more collagen. When applied topically, they can trigger the skin to generate more collagen. Once absorbed into the skin, peptides trick our fibroblast cells into thinking that our skin is damaged. So, they respond by making more collagen.
Your body sees these peptides as signals that you need to heal, which tells your body to produce more collagen where you need it most. If you are healing from an injury, those peptides will signal your body to focus its repair efforts at the injury. If your skin is aging prematurely, those peptides signal your skin to boost its production of collagen. They can also amp up hyaluronic acid, plumping your skin and restoring a healthy skin barrier.
When you introduce peptides in the form of a moisturizer or serum, it tricks your skin into thinking there’s been an injury. This helps stimulate collagen-boosting processes.
Peptides are the most peaceful and friendly ingredients for skin, and practically incapable of producing irritations, inflammations, and allergic reactions. Peptides can do a lot to combat the signs of aging, but they can't do it all alone.
They work well with lots of other active ingredients without losing effectiveness. When peptides are blended with antioxidants, skin-soothing ingredients, and skin-replenishing ingredients they can address multiple signs of aging. With the help of peptides, you can increase the effectiveness of products with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C.
However, peptides are not recommended to be used simultaneously with alpha hydroxy acids. Allow time for skin to heal after peels before using peptides.
When it comes to skincare, not all peptides are created equal. While there are hundreds of peptides, specific types are more efficacious for the skin than others.
For example, carrier peptides deliver trace minerals to the skin to boost collagen. Enzyme inhibitor peptides work to slow down the skin’s natural breakdown of collagen. Signal peptides send messages to different parts of the skin to promote collagen, elastin, and other proteins. Neurotransmitter peptides block the release of chemicals that cause the muscle contraction of expression lines, thus smoothing wrinkles.
One of the most powerful topical peptides used in skincare is copper peptides. Copper is something that exists naturally within our bodies, and there’s a direct correlation between copper peptides and many degenerative diseases.
Copper peptides promote collagen and elastin production, but also promote the production of glycosaminoglycans. This is the family of carbohydrates that maintain and support collagen and elastin. Copper peptides not only generate collagen but also maintain the collagen you generate. Copper peptides even encourage your skin to remove damaged collagen and elastin as well, by engaging the systems that are responsible for doing so.
Anyone wanting smoother, firmer skin, can benefit from using peptides, even as a preventative measure. Pretty much anyone and everyone can use them. Unlike other collagen-boosting ingredients such as irritating retinoids, peptides are generally well tolerated by everyone. And while you should always check with your ob-gyn, they're typically okay to use during pregnancy, too.
You’ll find peptides featured in topical products like serums and creams, which will help to effectively increase collagen production. Peptides only work if they have the chance to really sink in, so try to avoid cleansers featuring peptides that will only get washed off.
To start reaping the benefits of peptides, apply your peptide in the form of a cream, serum, mask, or eye cream after you wash and tone your face in the morning and at night. Use a circular motion to gently massage it into your skin until it’s fully absorbed. Slather it on your face, neck, and chest to prevent skin laxity.
It’s never too early to start an anti-aging skincare regimen, even if only preventatively. Incorporating peptides into your skincare routine can help you tackle concerns like firmness, texture, and overall appearance, no matter what type of skin you have. Peptides can even replace retinoids in your routine if you can't tolerate them. But even if you're already using a retinoid, a peptide-based product makes a great addition to your current product line-up.
Peptides are performance-specific. Each one is designed to communicate a different skincare task. There’s a peptide for everyone, especially since they work so well with other ingredients.
Peptides are only a small piece of the anti-aging puzzle. It’s important to incorporate healthy anti-aging habits into your skincare routine and day to day lifestyle to retain that youthful glow. Proper anti-aging skincare routines begin at a young age, with the learning of healthy habits that can keep your skin looking its best.
Using peptides directly on top of your skin acts as a skincare hack, tricking your skin into thinking it's lost collagen and producing more. Load up on your products with peptides as part of a healthy anti-aging skin routine.