Proteins are like bricks of the skin structure, and are made of amino acids connected to one another via Peptide bonds. This means that when amino acids are combined in certain formations they create specific types of peptides and when peptides are combined in a certain way, they create specific types of proteins (collagen or elastin).
As we age we begin to lose collagen and the peptides production slows down and lack of peptides results in loss of firmness and formation of wrinkles. Topical application of a skincare product containing peptides could help trick the skin into thinking that there is an injury so it would stimulate and boost collagen production.
Peptides are multifunctional actives and each type helps target a specific skin care need:
+ they stimulate collagen production & decrease collagen breakdown.
+ they reinforce the building blocks of skin to keep the skin intact and firm and prevent sagging.
+ they are cell-communicating skin care ingredients and act like messengers between skin cells which is is vital for each skin cell to do its job.
+ they activate wound healing and can strengthen the proteins and connective tissue in the dermis that allow skin recover from injury.
There are five different types of peptides:
1. Signaling peptides: the skin tissue is broken down into different peptide fragments when the skin is wounded and the Signaling peptides are responsible to send signals to the skin to produce more elastin, collagen, and any other protein that the skin might need to promote healing. Topical application of Signal peptides tricks skin into thinking that it is injured and needs to make more collagen, elastin, decorin, Hyaluronic acid and fibronectin. These help:
+ Reduce pigmentation of photo-damaged skin
+ Reduce fine lines and wrinkles
+ Increase the skin elasticity
2. Carrier peptides: these peptides transport trace elements such as copper and manganese into the skin to boost collagen production. Copper peptides are either carrier or signal peptide because not only they help boost collagen production they also deliver antioxidants to maintain the existing collagen.
3. Enzyme-inhibiting peptides: these peptides slow down the skin’s natural breakdown of collagen by inhibiting a group of enzymes (ex:tyrosinase) that degrade collagen when they multiply too much.
4. Neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides: these peptides work similar to botox, they smoothen the wrinkles caused by repeat muscle movements by blocking the release of chemicals that cause the contraction of expression lines.
*“These peptides only works on the wrinkles formed by the expression lines and not the ones caused by pollution, sun exposure, and other factors.”
5. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs): these peptides could be used against different classes of pathogen (including viruses, bacteria and fungi). There has been many studies that show they are helpful in treating Folliculitis and Seborrheic dermatitis.
Next table shows different types of peptides and some common peptides used in skincare products which have been proven to be effective on human skin by clinical studies.
If you want to find the perfect peptide-based skincare products to address your skin needs you need to consider:
A. Which type of peptides is suitable for your skin type/concern.
B. The product formulation. Peptides do not work really well by their own; to optimize their anti-aging benefits they should be blended with other types of peptides (that work by different mechanisms), antioxidants (vitamin C), skin replenishing ingredients (HA) and other restoring ingredients (Niacinamide).
C. Its ability to penetrate the skin barrier, how is the delivery system? Cosmeceutical peptides should have certain features in order to obtain good effects. The molecular weight of peptides should be less than 500 Da, otherwise the peptide would not be able to pass the skin barrier; however current studies have shown that larger molecules can traverse the skin barrier, especially in the case of dry and aged skin.
“The current formulation trend is to use synergistic combinations of peptides that work by different mechanisms along with a suitable delivery technology, such as a phospholipid or lamellar liquid-crystal-based formulation.”
D. Wash-off products that contain peptides are not effective, opt for leave-on skincare products such a moisturizer, eye cream or serums.
E. For peptides to actually have a benefit they have to be stabilized. Since they are break-down fragments of proteins, they have to be stabilized or they might continue to break down further in a topical skincare product and become ineffective and useless.
F. You need to be consistent and follow a proper skincare regime containing peptides to see results; the results are won’t be immediate.
*Skincare products containing peptides, may cause redness or/and inflammation.
*When looking for peptides in skin care products, look for words ending in “peptide” or beginning with “palmitoyl.”You may also see prefixes like -di, -tri, -hexa, -oligo, etc. to describe how many amino acids make up the peptide.
*”Claims of efficiency by cosmeceuticals are restricted to the improvement of the skin appearance. Improving function might lead to re-classification of certain peptide products from cosmetic to drug category, which is often not desirable by the cosmeceuticals.”
*Peptides used in skin care and dietary supplements come from different sources; they are obtained by chemical synthesis or partial digestion of animal proteins, or derived from plant and microalgae. I will talk about phyto-peptides (derived from plants) later.
*Aside from topical products, incorporating collagen-derived peptides to your diet would also be beneficial. I will talk more about the collagen-peptide supplements, the clinical studies and how they might help to decrease signs of skin aging later. Stay tuned..