What are peptides and how do they work?
Peptides are fragments of protein made up of short chains of amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of proteins. Most of us are familiar with the fact that protein is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in the structure and function of the human skin. Unlike protein molecules, peptides are much smaller in molecular size and have the ability to penetrate easily into multiple skin layers to improve the appearance and health of the skin. Once the peptide molecule enters the underlying layers of the skin, it interacts with cells that produce collagen, elastin and other structural proteins. These cells are known as fibroblasts, which play a critical role in maintaining the skin’s structure and elasticity. The peptide molecule binds to specific receptors on the fibroblast cell surface and triggers a cellular response.
One of the most important cellular processes that occurs when a peptide molecule binds to a fibroblast receptor is the activation of the mTOR pathway. The mTOR pathway is responsible for regulating cell growth and protein synthesis. When activated, this pathway stimulates fibroblasts to produce more collagen and elastin, two key proteins that give the skin its strength and elasticity. In addition, peptides also have the ability to inhibit the activity of enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, in particular the enzyme matrix metalloproteinase (MMP). Peptides molecules bind to the MMPs to prevent them from breaking down these important structural components of the skin barrier, thereby preserving the skin’s structural integrity.
What are the different types of peptides for different skincare goals
There are several different types of peptides used in skincare formulations, each with unique benefits for the skin. Here are some of the most common types of peptides found in skincare products:
Signal peptides are used to signal to the skin to produce more collagen and other proteins. They work by mimicking the signals that occur naturally in the body to stimulate collagen production. Some examples of signal peptides include palmitoyl pentapeptide-4 and acetyl hexapeptide-8.
Carrier peptides are used to transport other active ingredients into the skin. They can improve the penetration of other skincare ingredients, such as antioxidants or hyaluronic acid. Some examples of carrier peptides include copper peptides and oligopeptides.
Enzyme-inhibiting peptides are used to inhibit the enzymes that break down collagen and other key proteins in the skin. By slowing down the breakdown of these proteins, the skin can maintain its structure and elasticity. Some examples of enzyme-inhibiting peptides include soybean peptide and palmitoyl tripeptide-5.
Neuropeptide works by inhibiting muscle contractions that lead to wrinkles. They have a Botox-like effect but are less potent. Examples of neuropeptide include acetyl hexapeptide-3 and dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate.
Benefits of using peptides in skincare
Stimulates collagen production
As we age, collagen production slows down, which can lead to wrinkles, sagging, and other signs of aging. When peptides are applied to the skin, they are absorbed into the deeper layers where they can interact with fibroblasts. Peptides bind to specific receptors on the surface of fibroblasts, triggering a cascade of signaling events that ultimately lead to increased collagen production. Various studies have shown the effects of signal peptides in stimulating the production of Type 1 and Type 3 collagen in the skin to slow down signs of aging.
Improves skin elasticity and hydration
Peptides can also improve skin elasticity by increasing the production of elastin, a protein that helps the skin bounce back into place. Peptides can also improve skin elasticity by increasing hyaluronic acid production. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the skin that helps to hydrate and plump the skin, giving it a more youthful appearance. Peptides can stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid by activating genes that are involved in its synthesis. This can help reduce the appearance of sagging skin and fine lines.
Hyperpigmentation is a common skin concern caused by an overproduction of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Excessive melanin production can be caused by a variety of factors, including sun exposure, hormonal changes, and skin injuries. Peptides have been shown to reduce hyperpigmentation in several ways. Firstly, peptides can inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme that plays a critical role in melanin synthesis. Studies have shown that some peptides can bind to tyrosinase and inhibit its activity, thereby reducing the production of melanin in the skin. Secondly, peptides can reduce hyperpigmentation by regulating the expression of genes involved in melanin production. Lastly, peptides can reduce hyperpigmentation by promoting skin cell turnover. Some of the most common types of peptides used in reducing hyperpigmentation include oligopeptides, nanopeptides and tetrapeptides.
Boost skin repair
Peptides are crucial in the repair and regeneration of the skin barrier. They are responsible for binding to specific cell receptors called integrins and initiate a cascade of events to stimulate the production of collagen and produce new cells. One of the most well-known peptides that executes this benefit perfectly is copper peptides. Copper peptides have shown to boost skin repair by promoting the production of collagen and elastin fibers. It also has antioxidant properties that help protect the skin from oxidative damage caused by UV radiation and environmental pollutants. However, here is a gentle reminder to avoid using copper peptide with vitamin c simultaneously as it can reduce the overall effectiveness of copper peptides.
How to incorporate peptides into your skincare routine
Here are some of our recommendations on the type of peptide products that you can include into your skincare routine
The Vegreen Fragrance-Free Nature Mucin Serum is a fragrance-free snail mucin alternative serum that uses wild yam extract and five different types of peptides to improve the skin’s vitality. If you are someone who has sensitive skin and would like an alternative option to the ever-popular snail mucin, this serum is the perfect addition to your skincare routine.
The Mary & May 6 Peptide Complex Serum is a lightweight serum packed with 8 different types of peptides that is suitable for all skin types. The texture absorbs beautifully into the skin without leaving any greasy residue.
The RNW Der. Concentrate Ceramide Plus Serum has a combination of all the goodness of ceramide, along with a variety of peptides to boost and strengthen the skin barrier. It is fragrance-free and has a slightly viscous texture.
Which of these skincare products would you consider adding to your skincare regimen? Let us know in the comments below!
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