POSTED: 5 Nov 2023

Here’s What Peptides Can Do For Your Skin & How To Use Them

So, the buzziest word in skincare right now might just be peptides! This has become synonymous with skin renewal and healing. But what exactly are peptides and how do they benefit our skin? In this article, we explore peptides in skincare, if they’re worth using and how to actually add them into your skincare routine.

What are Peptides?

Peptides are short chains of amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. Amino acids are vital for healthy skin function and play a pivotal role in the body, particularly in skin health. Peptides play a pivotal role in maintaining your skin’s structure and resilience. Basically, you can think of them as your skin’s own personal trainers. Peptides instruct your skin cells to perform various functions that are need to renew and enhance your skin. They do this in a number of ways including promoting production of collagen and elastin, which provide the skin with its firmness and elasticity.

History & Underlying Science

The history of peptides in skincare traces back several decades. Initially, research into peptides was driven by medical reasons. Studies focused on their potential in wound healing and tissue regeneration. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that the skin regenerative potential of peptides was explored. The breakthrough came with the understanding that specific peptides could stimulate the production of collagen. This revelation opened the door to their use in anti-aging products to target specific skin issues such as loss of elasticity, wrinkles and dullness. Today, peptides are a cornerstone in the formulation of many high-end and scientifically advanced skincare products. Peptides play a vital role in stimulating the skin’s natural repair mechanisms, thereby rejuvenating and renewing aging or damaged skin.

Benefits of Peptides for Skin

When it comes to peptide skin benefits, the list is impressive. Regular use of peptides in skincare leads to a visible reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, offering a plumper and more radiant complexion. Let’s take a detailed look at the various peptide benefits on skin health and appearance.

Stimulating Collagen Production

Peptides are instrumental in boosting collagen synthesis. Collagen is the protein that gives our skin its firmness and elasticity and as we age, natural collagen production goes down. This then leads to the formation of wrinkles and sagging skin. By encouraging the skin cells to produce more collagen, peptides can help maintain the youthful, firm and plump appearance of your skin. This also leads to a visible reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Reinforcing The Skin Barrier

Beyond collagen production, peptides also play a crucial role in strengthening the skin’s barrier function. This is important because a strong barrier is vital for maintaining hydration and protecting the skin from environmental aggressors like pollutants and harmful UV rays. So, improved barrier function means better moisture retention and skin defence. This is particularly beneficial for dry or sensitive skin types that are prone to irritation and dehydration.

Promoting Elasticity and Firmness

Some peptides also encourage the production of elastin. This is another vital protein that helps the skin maintain its shape and firmness. Increased elastin makes skin appear more toned and firm. As you can imagine, this is super beneficial in combating sagging skin.

Facilitating Skin Repair and Healing

Peptides can accelerate the skin’s healing process by promoting cell regeneration and repair. This makes them valuable in treating skin damage caused for example by sun exposure, acne and other skin conditions.

Reducing Inflammation and Redness

Certain peptides possess anti-inflammatory benefits which can calm the skin and reducing irritation or redness. This is particularly useful for people with sensitive or reactive skin.

Fading Hyperpigmentation

Specialised peptides can help treat hyperpigmentation. They can do this by evening out skin tone and reducing dark spots. As such, regular use of peptide skincare products can contribute to an overall radiant and healthy-looking complexion.

Different Types of Peptides in Skincare

As you’ll be aware by now, peptides have a huge range of benefits for skin. However, these benefits are provided by different types of peptides. Basically, each category of peptide has different functions. Below are the main types of peptides in skincare:

  • Signal Peptides: These stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, which are crucial for skin firmness and elasticity. Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4 and Palmitoyl Oligopeptide are two of the most common signal peptides. You typically find them in anti-aging serums and creams.
  • Carrier Peptides: Copper Tripeptide-1 and other carrier peptides deliver essential minerals to the skin. They play a key role in healing and enzymatic processes. Carrier peptides are most common in rejuvenating serums and wound healing creams or targeted treatments for hyperpigmentation.
  • Enzyme Inhibitor Peptides: These inhibit enzymes responsible for collagen and elastin breakdown. Examples include Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate. They are often found in firming creams or lotions targeting elasticity and texture.
  • Neurotransmitter Inhibitor Peptides: Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 (Argireline) is the most famous example of neurotransmitter inhibitor peptides. They target facial muscles to reduce expression lines. You will find these in anti-wrinkle serums, creams and masks. They are often promoted as “Botox creams”.
  • Antimicrobial Peptides: These combat bacteria on the skin and have obvious benefits for acne-prone skin. Lactoferrin and Defensin are two of the more common examples. They are found acne treatment products such as clarifying cleansers and toners.
  • Collagen Boosting Peptides: Matrixyl (Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4) and SYN-COLL (Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5) are two of the best known examples that directly enhance collagen production. As such, you will mainly find them in anti-aging serums, moisturisers and masks.
  • Moisturising Peptides: Ceramide NP and Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Peptides improve skin hydration by increasing moisture retention. They are mainly found in hydrating serums, lotions and creams that focus on skin barrier repair and hydration.

How Peptides Compare with Other Skin Ingredients

One of the biggest questions we get is how peptides compare with skincare giants like retinoids and vitamin C. Here’s a comparison of peptides against their main competitors:

  • Retinoids: These are the anti-aging heavyweights. Retinoids like retinol and Tretinoin accelerate skin cell turnover and boost collagen as well as production. Not only do they treat skin ageing but they also help with hyperpigmentation, texture and acne. You can use peptides alongside retinoids to boost their anti-ageing and skin evening effects.
  • Vitamin C: This is a powerful antioxidant famed for its skin brightening properties and ability to fight free radicals. You can pair vitamin C with peptides that focus on firmness and hydration. So, the vitamin C provides antioxidant defence whilst peptides rebuild and fortify the skin structure.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: The most famous hydrator, hyaluronic acid is known for its ability to hold up to a thousand times its weight in water. So, using peptides and hyaluronic acid together allows your skin to attract and seal in moisture for long lasting and deeper hydration.
  • Exfoliating acids: Alpha and beta hydroxy acids remove dead skin cells to give smoother, brighter skin and younger looking skin. In contract, the anti-aging effects of peptides are due to skin repair, hydration and collagen stimulation. This means that you can use exfoliating acids to clarify and refine the skin’s texture. You can then follow up with peptides can follow up to soothe, repair and rebuild the skin.
  • Niacinamide: This is a versatile ingredient with a vast array of skin benefits. Amongst other things, niacinamide can shrink pores, even out skin tone and improve overall skin texture. You can pair niacinamide with peptides for greater radiance, firmness and elasticity.

Choosing the Right Peptide Skin Product

There are many different types of peptides and each has a specific function. In order to get the most benefit from peptides for your skin, you need to do employ a personalised approach. Here are our top tips for finding the best peptide products for you:

  • Understand Your Skin: Begin by assessing your skin type. This includes how oily or dry your skin is and if it is sensitive or not. Also work out if you suffer from any underlying skin conditions like acne, hyperpigmentation, psoriasis or any other skin condition. Next, identify your skin and goals concerns. For example, are you looking to treat lines or wrinkles, fade hyperpigmentation, improve elasticity or smooth texture? Once you have that, look at our earlier section to find the specific peptides that will help with this.
  • Peptide Concentration: The effectiveness of a peptide product is linked to the concentration of peptides. Look for products that list peptides near the top of their ingredient list. Consider formulations that combine peptides with other beneficial ingredients like antioxidants for radiance, retinoids for anti-ageing, hyaluronic acid for hydration or niacinamide for texture.
  • Formulation: The choice of serums, creams, or masks really depends on your skin type and needs. Serums offer deeper penetration and typically have higher concentrations of peptides. they are ideal for addressing specific concerns like deep wrinkles or loss of firmness. They’re best if your skin is not very sensitive and also for more oily skin types. Peptide-infused creams and lotions are best if you need overall hydration and improved skin texture. They are generally best for people with dry sensitive skin. Peptide masks are a great intensive treatment particularly if you have very dry skin or need a quick skin boost before an important event.

How to Incorporate Peptides into Your Skincare Routine

So you’ve figured out which type of peptide and product you need for your skin but now what? Wondering what the best way is to add peptides into your routine? Well, you’re in luck! Peptides are incredibly versatile. Here’s how you can seamlessly add peptides into your daily skincare routine:

  1. Morning or Evening: Timing is completely up to you! We recommend using them both during the day or night. Use a peptide serum or moisturiser in the morning to protect your skin against daily environmental stressors. Apply a peptide moisturiser at night to seal in hydration so that you wake up with very plump and soft skin.
  2. Prep Your Canvas: Always begin with a gentle cleanser to remove impurities and prepare your skin to absorb the peptides.
  3. Layer Like A Pro: If you’re using a peptide serum, apply it after cleansing and toning. Serums are lightweight and designed to penetrate deeply, so they should be applied closest to the skin. Follow up with a peptide-infused cream or your regular moisturiser to seal in the peptides and hydrate the skin further. In the mornings, always finish your routine with a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF30.
  4. Consistency is Key: Like most skincare, you need to use peptides regularly and for a long period to get the most benefit for for your skin.
  5. Combining With Other Skincare: Peptides play well most skincare. Examples of successful pairings include peptides with antioxidants like vitamin C for enhanced skin brightness, retinoids for skin ageing or hyaluronic acid for hydration.
  6. Listen to Your Skin: Whilst peptides are well tolerated by most people, always pay attention to how your skin responds. If irritation occurs, reduce the frequency or if severe, stop using and consult a dermatologist if needed.

Potential Side Effects

Whilst peptides are generally safe and well-tolerated, there is still a risk of irritation or allergic reaction. Always patch test new skin products to ensure that your skin can tolerate them. If you have sensitive skin, introduce peptides gradually to avoid irritation.

There’s no doubt that peptides play an important role in skin health and have earned their place in most skincare routines. There are many different types of peptides and they each have different functions. This is why, peptides as a group have such a vast array of skin benefits including treating skin aging and hyperpigmentation. However, they are not a silver bullet. The secret to a more youthful and brighter complexion is to use peptides correctly alongside other skin boosting ingredients. Also, its important to be patient especially if using for their anti-aging benefits. Visible results usually take time to become, so patience is key. Lastly, if you have an underlying skin condition os a persistent skin concerns, consider consulting a skin doctor. They can provide you with personalised advice to help you safely target your specific skin problems and goals.

At City Skin Clinic, we are entirely devoted to personalised skincare. Through our online skin clinic, our doctors offer safe and effective treatments like Tretinoin and Hydroquinone. We treat skin conditions like acnehyperpigmentationmelasma and skin ageing. To start your personalised skincare plan, book a virtual video consultation or use our online consultation form. The journey towards great skin starts here.

Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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