The Skin Health Benefits of Peptides
In the world of skin care products, many cosmetic ingredients are marketed as having tangible effects on the skin; however, few are potent or effective enough to produce visible results. One important class of ingredients with the power to noticeably benefit skin health are peptides, or polypeptides, which already occur naturally in the skin. Peptides are short segments of amino acids formed when proteins such as collagen or elastin are broken down and function as the building blocks for the creation of new proteins. These proteins are fundamental for overall skin health as low collagen levels can increase the appearance and development of fine lines, wrinkles, and skin sagging, among other unwanted signs of aging.
How Peptides Affect Skin Health
While peptides are natural components of the skin, they are also prevalent in an increasing amount of skin care products that aim to boost collagen, elastin, and other enzyme production. Comprised of three polypeptide chains, collagen is an integral marker of skin health that can be used to prevent signs of aging. Increasing collagen production through the incorporation of peptide-based skin care products can lead to firmer, younger-looking skin.
The collagen molecule itself is too large to be absorbed through the skin, which is why many individuals opt for collagen supplements. However, peptides themselves can penetrate the external layer of the skin, thereby sinking in more deeply, spurring the production of collagen and elastin from within. Peptides function as a warning signal prompting the body to produce more collagen or other necessary proteins to heal tissue damage properly. In addition, peptides help defend the skin against environmental stressors and the physical effects of aging, further supporting optimal skin health.
Benefits of Peptides in Skin Care Products
When applied topically, peptides can promote the production of collagen, elastin, and other enzymes in the area, which will become firmer and plumper over time. According to a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, peptide complex formulations can effectively reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Significant improvements in skin wrinkles across different areas of the skin were found in healthy participants aged over 40 after two weeks of using a peptide complex.
Peptide-based skin care products have been found to achieve more than increasing collagen production with additional benefits, including improved skin barrier function, decreased inflammation, and improved skin elasticity.
Peptides can be used to strengthen the skin barrier – an essential defense against bacteria, ultraviolet rays, pollution, and environmental toxins – which can be easily damaged by over-exfoliation, exposure to pollution, and even poor sleep patterns.
Wrinkle reduction is another benefit of peptide-based products; increasing collagen plumps and firms the skin making wrinkles and fine lines less visible, while boosting elastin levels can make the skin appear firmer and tauter.
Some peptides exhibit antimicrobial as well as anti-inflammatory properties and can thus minimize acne breakouts while also potentially playing a role in atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea treatment.
Incorporating Peptide Products
Peptides are versatile and work well for all skin types, supporting essential skin structure and function. They are well-tolerated by most individuals as they are naturally occurring in the body.
Currently, hundreds of peptides are being studied for their potential skin benefits as the scientific and popular interest in their wide-ranging properties continues to grow. Due to this rise in popularity, peptides can easily be found in creams, serums, masks, and other skin care products, often in combination with other complementary ingredients that can boost their efficacy.
Furthermore, there are many different types of peptides with unique qualities and applications, such as carrier peptides which deliver essential minerals for wound healing and stimulate collagen production. On the other hand, enzyme proteins can help collagen become more resilient, delaying its breakdown while signal peptides spur collagen, elastin, and other protein production. There are also neurotransmitter peptides, which work similarly to Botox, blocking chemical signals that cause muscle contractions and, thus, smooth expression lines and wrinkles.
As the building blocks of essential skin health proteins, peptides can be easily incorporated into a skin care regime delivering firmer, youthful skin with fewer breakouts, less inflammation, and decreased laxity. Current knowledge indicates that peptides are well-tolerated and considered safe; however, more research is needed to fully understand their efficacy and the range of potential clinical applications.