It feels like there’s a new, trendy skincare ingredient in the market every week that’s said to clear your skin. With new ones dropping like viral memes, we’ll admit, it can be hard to keep track of all the latest and greatest complexion-improving formulas. Some ingredients are more hype than action, but others are really worth it — and peptides are an ingredient you won’t want to miss.
What are Peptides?
Peptides, AKA polypeptides, are amino acids that make up certain proteins needed by the skin. To be specific, collagen is made of three polypeptide chains, so adding peptides can stimulate your skin to make collagen. More collages equals firmer, younger looking skin. Peptides naturally occur in the skin, but are also regularly included in skin care products.
Peptides, when applied to the skin as a topical serum or moisturiser, acts as a messenger. They will stabilise and transport compounds that are important to the production of collagen. Thanks to this, peptides can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles–but that's not all.
As peptides are composed of up to 50 amino acids; they're also incredibly mutable! “All you have to do is add, subtract, or replace one of those amino acids, and then you have a new peptide that might have a different function,” explains cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson. According to recent research on the topic, these functions include smoothing, firming, reducing inflammation, and locking in hydration.
There are hundreds of peptides, but the ones in your skincare are mostly tetrapeptides and hexapeptides. These have specific physical properties that impact what their functions are. Board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick of the Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centres helps illustrate this, noting that hexapeptides (with their six amino acids) brighten, while tetrapeptides (which have four amino acids) boost elasticity and firmness.
Choosing the right peptide products
There are so many products on the market that contain peptides; it can be hard to know where to start. Here’s how to shop for peptides, plus some products to look into.
Pick the right form.
You’d want to choose a product like a serum or moisturiser that has prolonged contact with your skin. A cleanser, for instance, wouldn't be as effective because it’s rinsed off.
Choose other ingredients wisely.
Peptides work well in tandem with other ingredients, including vitamin C, niacinamide, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acids; however, using a peptide with an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) will actually make the peptides work less efficiently.
Look at the label.
You ideally want to see peptides listed close to the top of the ingredient list. They may also be listed as “palmitoyl.”
By the end of the first week of using it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how hydrated, bouncy, and calm your skin will feel. Some mention not having a single whitehead in sight, which is truly magnificent!