Peptides are macromolecules that are constructed from comparatively short sequences of amino acids. In spite of the fact that amino acids have a wide variety of applications in biochemical processes, they are most commonly referred to as the building blocks of proteins since, well, proteins are composed of amino acids. If you imagine a single protein molecule as a finished Lego Millennium Falcon, then peptides represent the various building pieces, and amino acids represent the plastic that makes up the Millennium Falcon.
When discussing skin care, the term “proteins” usually generally refers to collagen, the structural protein that is found in your skin and is responsible for its organisation. As we become older, the collagen proteins that are found in our skin begin to degrade, which can lead to a variety of skin issues including a loss of suppleness and wrinkles. The majority of skincare products that include peptides have one of two primary goals: either to boost the amount of collagen that your cells make or to reduce the amount of collagen that is degraded. Either way, the end result is skin that is healthier, smoother, and plumper.
What do peptides do?
Although the intended advantages of each individual peptide product are comparable, individual peptides serve a variety of purposes. Basically, we’re wanting to maintain our skin thick,” she says in an interview with SELF. “In order to do this, you will need to eliminate cellular waste and products of breakdown [caused by the breakdown of collagen] and promote the formation of more collagen.” Both of those tasks may be accomplished by peptides, however the specific mechanisms by which each peptide achieves this goal can vary.
Peptides in ingredient lists
Therefore, the individual peptides that a product includes will determine how the product functions in its whole. However, it might be difficult to determine which peptides a product actually has. Some goods with the word “peptide” right in the name don’t specify particular peptides in the ingredient list. One example of this is this incredibly pricey Tata Harper cream, which contains broken avocado protein but nothing else is even vaguely peptide-adjacent. Other goods that do include peptides could simply describe them as peptides or oligopeptides on the ingredient list, frequently followed by a number. (By the way, the word oligo simply means “few” and is typically used to refer to peptides that include 20 amino acids or fewer—which includes pretty much any peptide that is used in cosmetics.)
Different kinds of peptides
It is not necessary to commit to memory the names of every peptide that you could see on an ingredients list; nonetheless, having a general idea of the many sorts of peptides that are available can be quite beneficial when selecting a product. The majority of the research that has been done on the function and efficiency of cosmetic peptides has found that they may be broken down into five distinct groups determined by the suggested mechanism of action. Buy Peptide Vials
Products that include these chemicals, which are by far the most often used peptides in cosmetics, make the promise that they will increase the quantity of collagen that is present in your skin. According to Noelani González, MD, head of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West, who spoke with SELF about the topic, “Signaling peptides have different methods of [doing] this.” “Isoform segments can tools to achieve collagen production, and so they can already signal skin [cells] that enough protein has been broken down,” thereby preventing your body from breaking down any more collagen. “Procollagen segments can also signal skin [cells] that some collagen has been broken down.”
It is simple to understand why signalling peptides are ubiquitous in skin care right now. Whether they are genuinely helping generate more collagen or merely helping the skin cling onto what it already has, it is easy to see why signalling peptides are popular. Additionally, there are a great number of them. The following are some examples of words that could appear on a label:
Both carnosine and its derivative, N-acetylcarnosine
The vast majority of tetrapeptides, such as tetrapeptide-21 and tetrapeptide TKEK, are cyclic.
The vast majority of hexapeptides, such as hexapeptide-11 and hexapeptide-14 among others
These peptides are probably in second place when it comes to popularity among skin-care products. “Carrier peptides connect up to another substance to aid its transport [to skin cells],” adds Dr. González. “This makes the delivery process more smoother.” Copper, which is the most frequent element, is beneficial to the healing process of wounds. The vast majority of goods just state copper peptides on the list of components; however, some products additionally use manganese carrier peptides in the form of manganese tripeptide-1.
Peptides that decrease the activity of neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitter inhibitors, which are not as frequent as signalling and carrier peptides, have the potential to reduce the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles by inhibiting the release of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in the contraction of muscles. There is some truth to the claim that these peptides would physically relax the muscles in your face. These are the most important peptides that fall within this category:
Acetylhexapeptide-3 Pentapeptides, including pentapeptide-3 and pentapeptide-18
Tripeptide-3 Enzyme called peptides
Enzyme inhibitors, much like neurotransmitter chelators, interfere with the function of compounds that are engaged in a certain process that is associated to ageing. In this instance, they are blocking enzymes that are responsible for the degradation of collagen and other proteins found in the skin. In principle, this helps to prevent the breakdown of collagen. Soybean peptides, peptides derived from silk fibroin, and peptides derived from rice are the most prevalent forms.
Structural or keratin peptides
The distinctive characteristic of structural peptides is that they directly target dehydration and dryness in the body. They are often made from keratin, which is a protein that, among other things, is responsible for giving the structure of hair and nails. They appear to act by increasing the skin barrier function, which enables the skin to retain more water and provides the appearance of plumper skin. Since sheep’s wool is the most prevalent source of keratin, you will most likely see them described as dermal peptides or maybe sheep lipids, if you come across them at all, given that this particular context.
Claims made by researchers concerning the advantages of peptides in skin-care items
Since peptides have been researched for such a long time in such a wide variety of medical situations, we really know quite a bit about how peptides operate; nevertheless, this information is not necessarily presented in the manner in which one would like it to be. The majority of the experimental data that we have on peptides originate from studies that were conducted in vitro. These in vitro studies can take the form of cell cultures examining the expression of certain proteins or tests conducted on fake silicone skin. In many cases, the findings of these research do not immediately relate to cosmetics or other skin-care products; yet, they are still considered evidence. Direct Peptides
Copper peptides, for instance, have been found to in fact promote wound healing, which is at least part of the reason why people started putting them in cosmetics in the first place. However, as Dr. González adds, there is a possibility that these findings will not translate into advantages for skin care: She argues that because injured skin and healthy skin have distinct topographies, it is unknown whether or not copper peptides have the same effect on healthy skin. In the end, a number of research came to the conclusion that cosmetics solution containing collagen do, in fact, promote healthier and smoother skin; nevertheless, it is still unclear as to whether or not the same wound-healing process is responsible for those findings.
There are a few research that have been conducted with the aim of determining whether or not peptide products are effective when used on real human skin. The findings of these studies indicate that peptides do, in fact, appear to be effective. On the other hand, these aren’t the massive, double-blind scientific trials that we’d all want to see, and the corporations who conduct them are typically those in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. According to Dr. González, the presence of this by itself is not always cause for concern: “Skin-care businesses conduct nice research occasionally,” she adds, but the studies aren’t often large enough to draw any major conclusions from them. “Skin-care companies do good studies sometimes,” she says. (The largest study that we came across was an experiment that took place in 2005 and had 93 participants. The majority had between 15 and 40 participants.)