We all want smooth, glistening skin these days. So, like any other person, you’d browse the internet to see what you can do. However, researching different face and skin care products could be tiring due to the massive market. It’s also draining to stay on track with the latest women’s skin care trends, especially when an ingredient becomes trendy.
Not all trendy ingredients are as beneficial as they seem, and people use them simply for the hype. But one recent trendy ingredient that you will want to check out is peptides. However, what is a peptide? How does it benefit our skin?
In this article, we’ll be tackling all these questions and other concerns you may have. On top of that, we’ll even teach you how to incorporate which types of peptide or polypeptide products into your skin care routine! Without further ado, let’s get started.
The term peptide may sound vaguely familiar to you. It may be because you constantly see it on product labels or social media. Your favorite social media influencer probably even mentioned it. So, what is it?
A peptide is a chemical compound built by molecules called amino acids. One of the most common misunderstandings is that people often think polypeptides aren’t peptides. In fact, a polypeptide chain is still a peptide, except it is constructed by a much longer chain of amino acids. These polypeptides can then form proteins and other versatile compounds that our skin can use—collagen being an example of a protein created by polypeptides.
People also tend to ask the question: what is a peptide bond? You may think a peptide bond would be the same as the peptide itself, but that is not the case. Instead, a peptide bond refers to the covalent bonds holding the peptide’s amino acids together. But are all peptides the same? We’ll answer that in the next section.
If you’re wondering if all peptides are the same, the answer to that question is no. That’s because each amino acid that forms its structure could differ for each peptide or polypeptide. Although there are various peptides out there, there are 5 types of peptides often utilized in skin care. Namely, these are signaling peptides, carrier peptides, neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides, enzyme-inhibiting peptides, and antimicrobial peptides (Deckner, 2016). Let’s now look into each kind.
Signaling peptides are one of the most used peptides in the skin care industry due to the benefits they bring to the table. True to their name, signal or signaling peptides send an alert to your skin to produce any needed proteins it finds to be in low amounts. For example, when your skin is running low on collagen, the signal peptides within your body notify your skin to produce collagen to regulate its levels.
Because of this aspect of signal peptides, they can promote collagen production when applied topically. According to the Medical Dermatology Associates of Chicago (n.d.), when you use a product with signal peptides on your skin, it thinks your skin is running low on collagen. This happens due to its assumption that the applied peptide product is actually an outcome of a collagen breakdown. Hence, the signal peptides alert your skin to produce more collagen.
An example of a signaling peptide is Palmitoyl tripeptide-5. Like what you may expect from a signaling peptide, experts have revealed its capabilities to promote collagen biosynthesis (Errante, et. al., 2020). This phenomenon could improve your skin’s elasticity, keeping it firm, bouncy, and healthy.
Similar to signaling peptides, what carrier peptides do is reflected in their name. To confirm your thoughts, yes, they do carry and transport much-needed materials throughout your skin. But what exactly do they hold, and how does it benefit our skin? Well, we’ll be talking about that in this section.
As you already know, carrier peptides are responsible for carrying crucial resources to our skin cells. Specifically, carrier peptides deliver pivotal metal ions that our body needs for its biological processes. For example, one of the metal ions that carrier peptides give to our cells is Copper. Our cells need these metal ions to perform the necessary steps to complete wound healing and the formation of new blood vessels.
You may be wondering how it helps our skin. Without the required materials brought by carrier peptides, our skin won’t be able to efficiently produce collagen and elastin. These are two proteins that are crucial in the maintenance of our skin’s texture and prevent the premature aging of our skin.
An example of a carrier peptide is Copper Tripeptide-1. You may often see this ingredient in your skin care products as they are found to work well with Vitamin C and retinoic acid (Deckner, 2016). Plus, it also can help with wrinkles and keep your skin smooth.
Unlike the other two peptides previously mentioned, what neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides do may not be as obvious. Some people may even misunderstand its function for something else entirely due to its name. So, what exactly do they do?
Neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides—to put simply—inhibit muscle movement. While that may sound bad, it’s not whatever you may think it is. And no, these peptides do not permanently paralyze your muscles. Before we delve deeper into neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides, let’s talk about how we get wrinkles on our faces.
Wrinkles appear because of the repeated movement of our facial muscles. We just don’t see these fine lines when we are younger since our skin remains flexible. However, as we age, our skin’s elasticity weakens and the lines formed by our facial expressions slowly become permanent.
So, neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides aim to inhibit the neurotransmitters in charge of muscle movement, Acetylcholine being a prime example. By restricting the action of our facial muscles, these peptides would be able to soften the lines formed from our facial expressions. You can think of these kinds of peptides as something similar to Botox.
An example of a neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptide is Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate. This peptide prevents Acetylcholine from binding with its respective receptors, discouraging the cramping of muscles that would contribute to the appearance of wrinkles. Due to its efficiency in eliminating wrinkles, it is commonly found in skin care products (Errante, et. al., 2020).
Like neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides, some individuals may perceive enzyme-inhibiting peptides as unhelpful ingredients. On the contrary, these peptides are very handy in helping us maintain the smoothness and brightness of our skin. But how specifically do they bring these benefits to your skin?
As some of you may know, like how our body naturally produces collagen, it also naturally loses collagen through specific enzymes that break down these proteins. This leads us to the benefit that enzyme-inhibiting peptides bring to our skin, which is their capability to hinder this procedure of degrading collagen. By slowing down the process, you won’t have to worry about the effects that premature aging could have on your skin thanks to these peptides.
An example of an enzyme-inhibiting peptide can be found in rice. These peptides were discovered to be highly effective in retaining collagen by hindering the enzymes involved in the breakdown process (Racker, n.d.).
So far, we have tackled four interesting types of peptides, and some of their names may not immediately state the benefits they bring to our skin. However, the last peptide category that we will be talking about in this article is quite the opposite. From the name antimicrobial peptides, you probably already know what they do.
As most of you would expect, the function of antimicrobial peptides is to fend off unwanted bacteria from invading our bodies. Specifically, they work to protect our bodies from infections. Because of their chemical properties, antimicrobial peptides are often used in skin care to treat more severe concerns like eczema and psoriasis. Two examples of antimicrobial peptides in our bodies are Cathelicidins and Defensins (Taylor, 2017).
With how versatile they are, it’s no wonder peptides are utilized in various skin care products. So, if it’s your first time trying a peptide product, what kind of skin care product should you get? Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran skin care enthusiast, we suggest you use a cream, lotion, or any moisturizer if you’re looking to try peptides in your routines.
Why moisturizers? They synergize well with what moisturizers intend to do: retain moisture and improve skin texture and elasticity. An excellent moisturizer for you to try is the Polypeptide Firming Cream by IGAME. The polypeptide cream will undoubtedly help your skin become smoother and bouncier due to the signaling and neurotransmitter-inhibitor peptides in the cream’s formula. Moreover, it also has ingredients to help your skin retain moisture throughout the day. So, it’s generally a great pick to add to your skin care.
While polypeptides or peptides have only been a recent skin care trend, they have proven why they are a trend through their benefits. Plus, they also contribute so much more than just helping our skin look youthful since they are utilized in other biological processes—like wound healing. So, when you go out to add a new addition to your skin care collection, you may want to try and experience the magic of peptides. You definitely won’t regret it!
DECKNER, G. (2016). Five Types of Skin-Repairing Peptides. Prospector Knowledge Center. Weblog [Online]. August Available at: https://knowledge.ulprospector.com/4715/pcc-five-types-of-skin-repairing-peptides/ (Accessed at: 9 October 2022).
ERRANTE, F., LEDWON, P., LATAJKA, R., ROVERO,P., & PAPINI, A. (2020). Cosmeceutical Peptides in the Framework of Sustainable Wellness Economy. Frontiers in Chemistry, 8(572923). Available at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fchem.2020.572923/full
MEDICAL DERMATOLOGY ASSOCIATES OF CHICAGO (n.d.). Ingredient Spotlight: Peptides. Weblog [Online]. Available at: https://www.dermchicago.com/blog/ingredient-spotlight-peptides
RACKER, A. (n.d.). Peptides: Why They’re Good for Your Skin and How to Get More of Them. Weblog [Online]. Available at: https://www.dermstore.com/blog/top_ten/what-peptides-do-for-skin/
TAYLOR, J. (2017). Antimicrobial Peptides. DermNet. Weblog [Online]. April. Available at: https://dermnetnz.org/topics/antimicrobial-peptides.