What Are the Benefits of Peptides for Skin & Are They Safe?
Every now and again, a new skin care ingredient comes along and promises to be the next big thing in turning back the clock and making our skin soft, supple, hydrated, plump and youthful. Others promise to make the skin firmer or fill in fine lines and wrinkles, whilst others claim they can enhance skin texture, lighten areas of pigmentation or help to minimise the scarring caused by acne.
How many of these hypes are we to believe? How do we trust them or debunk them, without spending lots of our hard earned cash (and time) actually trying them all out for ourselves? How do we know if these ingredients and topical skin care products are even suitable for our skin?
Whilst we don’t have all the answers, we certainly have a lot of scientifically backed articles here at Sönd. We cover everything from hemp seed oil to antioxidants and parabens, how they work, why they work and whether or not they’re right for your skin type.
Some ‘miracle’ products die a natural death and disappear as quickly as they appeared. Whilst others tend to stick around and stand the test of time. But how do we know which of these new ingredients and products are safe?
One of the new types of skin care ingredients emerging are peptides and there are hundreds of peptides on the market. They promise to keep your skin youthful and improve skin elasticity.
So here we ask, what are the best peptides for your skin type? Are skincare products such as peptide serums, creams and face moisturizers safe? Do peptides work to firm and improve skin? Here's everything you need to know about peptides.
What Are Peptides?
Peptides are also called polypeptides and are a type of ‘mini’ protein. Both proteins and peptides are made up of the same building blocks - amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids, some that the body can naturally synthesise and some that we get from the protein rich foods that we eat.
Each different protein and peptide is made up of a different number and mix of amino acids. Proteins contain more amino acids than peptides do, since they’re bigger in size.
The most abundant protein in the human body is collagen, which you probably know it for its ability to reduce the signs of ageing. The collagen in your skin helps to keep it plump and youthful. Collagen, like all proteins, is made up of peptides which themselves are made up of amino acids.
What Are Peptides in Skin Care?
Peptides are chains of amino acids, and naturally occur in the skin. As we discovered above, amino acids make peptides, and peptides make proteins, such as collagen. Collagen is the Holy Grail of plump skin. Therefore, in recent years, some people choose to drink bone broth, which is a rich source of peptides to keep their levels topped up and therefore aid in collagen production.
Other people are a bit put off by the thought of bone broth (which is made by boiling the bones of cows and the resulting fatty collagen that floats to the top is then scraped off and turned into a powder to make into a drink). For this reason, they choose to use skincare that contains peptides and apply them to the skin in a cream, rather than taking them internally.
Which is why many skin care brands use peptides and moisturizing ingredients together, or a blend of peptides that work together, to keep the skin cells healthy.
What Are the Benefits of Peptides for Skin?
Since peptides are amino acids, adding products to our skin that contain peptides can stimulate the production of collagen, using amino acids as building blocks. A product with peptides can therefore help your skin look healthier and more youthful.
Why Do Skincare Brands Use Peptides in Face Creams?
Peptides are naturally present in the skin and help to make up certain types of protein that are beneficial for the skin and our muscles. Of these proteins that are beneficial for the skin, perhaps the most well known is collagen.
So in a scientific sense, adding collagen peptides to the skin as part of a skin care routine can help to boost the production of collagen and therefore make the skin appear younger.
Molecules of peptides are smaller than molecules of collagen, so they’re able to penetrate the skin where they’re needed. The result is smooth skin and aging skin is given an overhaul.
How Do Peptides Work to Build Collagen?
Collagen is made up of three different chains of polypeptides and helps to form a ‘biological scaffold’ for the skin to sit on.
This scaffold is formed of chains of collagen protein (made up of the three polypeptide chains) weaving in and out of each other forming a type of lattice. This supports the skin, keeping it plump and lifted.
Do Peptide Moisturizers Reduce Wrinkles?
As we age, we start to lose our natural levels of collagen. This means that the skin begins to sag downwards into the spaces where we’ve lost collagen or the collagen support network has become weakened. Fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear and our skin starts to droop, lose elasticity and appear older looking.
One of the main skin care benefits of peptides that are small enough to penetrate the skin is that they're able to assist the skin in making collagen.
What Are Copper Peptides for Skin?
Copper is a mineral that we obtain from our diet (copper rich foods include shellfish, nuts, seeds and wholegrains). It's essential for the health of our skin and is one of the building blocks of new skin cells.
When added to serums and moisturisers, copper peptides have an antioxidant effect on the skin. They also send signals to the skin to promote the production of collagen. You'll find copper peptides in an ever increasing range of products designed to hydrate skin, manage dry skin and reduce the appearance of ageing or sagging skin.
Are There Other Different Types of Peptides for Your Skin?
Different types of peptides can help to boost the production of different types of protein. For example, elastin peptides help to synthesise the protein elastin. Elastin is also naturally present in the skin and does a similar job to collagen. We also lose elastin as we age, which leads to the typical signs of skin ageing also associated with collagen loss.
Other benefits of adding collagen peptides to skin care products include a stronger natural skin barrier, better wound healing and potentially less skin inflammation.
Are Peptides Products Safe to Use in Skin Care Products?
So far, so good for firm skin and to stimulate the skin to manufacture collagen and elastin. However, the research into the use of peptides directly on the skin is still in its infancy. Because of their small molecular size, they’re touted as beneficial for the skin since they can penetrate it so deeply and not sit on the surface of the skin.
But with this comes the concern that they may then be small enough to enter the bloodstream, and the long term effects of this are as yet unknown.
As a result, some studies suggest that peptides might not be all they’re cracked up to be.
Do Peptide Serums Cause Side Effects?
There have been reports that skin care products that contain peptides can actually lead to skin irritation and inflammation. This can then lead to skin rashes and itching, especially those with sensitive skin.
What is known, is that for some people, using peptides on their skin induces an allergic response. This has led researchers to advise people to use peptides with caution until more is understood about them.
Plus, not all peptides are beneficial for the skin, and they can be expensive. So you might not actually be buying anything beneficial anyway.
Are There Any Natural Sources of Peptides?
Most peptides used in skincare will be of the sort manufactured in a laboratory. This is normal for skin care that isn't made using natural, plant derived ingredients.
But in terms of natural peptides. all protein rich foods will supply a good range of the building blocks - amino acids. Protein rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu, pulses, beans, chickpeas, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds.
Where Will I Find the Best Peptide Skincare?
Most peptide containing skin care products are the type that sit on the skin rather than those that get washed off. So, certain types of moisturisers and serums may contain peptides but facial cleansers don’t. If you want to try peptides, make sure you use them as directed, and don’t combine them with any type of alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA, as they’ll become less effective.
How Do I Achieve Healthy Skin?
If you want to avoid the use of peptides in your skin care, try our range of nourishing, alkalising skin care. It’s ideal if you have acne prone skin or any type of skin type that means it goes a little contrary.
It also happens to be peptide free!
If you’re looking for other peptide free skin care products, peptides are usually mentioned in ingredients lists as simply ‘peptides’. But they may also appear as ‘palmitoyl’. If you’re pregnant, trying to become pregnant or you’re breastfeeding, the current advice is to avoid the use of peptides altogether.
Sources:https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326701 https://www.healthline.com/health/peptides-for-skin https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/peptides https://www.healthline.com/health/peptides-for-skin https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6016997/ https://www.byrdie.com/polypeptides-in-skincare
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.