Anti-ageing skincare can be a minefield to navigate.
Miracle ingredients, buzzwords and lofty claims promise to take years off.
So much so it is sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction.
But one ingredient has been hogging the limelight lately, and for good reason.
And that is innovative peptides that may very well be the future of anti-ageing,
Each peptide communicates a different role on your skin: toning, tightening, replenishing, lightening and soothing.
So, we put together this little peptide protocol for you:
So you’ll know what they do and don’t do and exactly how to spot them.
Be prepared to go cross-eyed: because peptide names can be gobbledy gook.
Understanding Innovative Peptides?
When your skin is injured and damaged by the environment or harsh ingredients, proteases break down damaged tissue into peptide fragments.
When peptides are used on the skin, they act as little messengers, signalling your skin to produce different tissue types that promote healing.
But what does all of this mean when it comes to ageing?
Well, peptides are clever; they trick your skin into thinking it’s injured and should make additional protein types.
This they do through active amino acid sequences that induce or inhibit the formation of specific types of protein depending on their role.
This is why the correct peptide formulation is so important.
When these short-chain amino acids are formed in a certain way, they help to rebuild specific skin proteins responsible for elastin, keratin, and collagen.
These are important as we age, as they give your skin foundational support.
The Role of Innovative Peptides
Here at NC HQ, we liken peptides to a ‘light switch’, sending signals and turning off and on specific functions.
They are the building blocks of your skin, replenishing and repairing cells and supporting vital cellular functions.
Research has shown these innovative peptides have several different roles on the skin:
- stimulates collagen and elastin, your internal scaffolding, as this study demonstrates (1)
- improves hyperpigmentation, stimulating the melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH)
- calms inflammation, demonstrating a remarkable skin-soothing effect
- encourages thrombospondin I (THBS1) a glycoprotein that mediates cell-to-cell and cell-to-matrix interactions
- increases the amount of water-binding substances in your skin, boosting humectants such as hyaluronic acid
- encourages epidermal growth factor (EGF), making them ideal for improving changes in skin texture or skin that is newly scarred or that has been traumatised
- research shows they encourage dermal fibroblasts and granulocyte-macrophage stimulating factors (GM-CSF), which boosts collagen synthesis while increasing the production of extracellular matrix proteins, actively promoting your skin to behave like younger skin
The Role of Peptides on Your Skin
In skin care, five different peptides are usually used;
- Carrier peptides
- Signalling peptides
- Enzyme-inhibiting peptides
- Antimicrobial peptides
- Neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides
Let’s look at these in more detail:
The cutaneous production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) is a primary system for protection.
They form the first defence against infection and are essential in balancing your immune system’s homeostasis.
Microbes are constantly challenging your skin, and peptides help with this.
This study found that when applying (2) small cationic peptides, they interact with the skin’s anionic phospholipid membrane, providing broad-spectrum microbial activity against bacteria and fungi that may be unwittingly residing on your skin.
Peptides also help to improve your barrier homeostasis, modulating inflammation responses and helping to promote wound healing.
This is why peptides are essential to skin health and rebuilding barrier function.
There is growing evidence that AMPs might overcome antibiotic resistance, which may be the antidote when working with severely damaged skin.
These clever peptides act as facilitators, transporting essential trace elements, including copper and manganese, to your skin.
They are necessary for wound healing and enzymatic processes, which we discuss in more detail below when we look at copper peptides.
These intelligent peptides inhibit enzymes in your skin; these enzymes, like tyrosinase, stimulate matrix metalloproteases (MMPs 1, 2, and 9).
MMPs degrade tissue and cause your skin to pigment, so topically applying specific peptide enzyme inhibitors will help to re-densify your skin and lighten pigmentation issues.
Neurotransmitter inhibitors mimic botulinum neurotoxins.
Like Botox, they inhibit acetylcholine, a chemical that activates muscle movements, relaxing the contractions of facial expression muscles and reducing wrinkles and lines.
We also discuss these important innovative peptides in the article Can an anti-ageing cream perform like Botox?
These peptides contain an active amino acid sequence that inhibits or induces the formation of specific proteins in your skin.
They tell your skin to behave in a certain way, such as boosting collagen and elastin.
Types of Peptides Used in Skincare
Several innovative peptides are available; each sequence is thought to stimulate your skin differently. Let’s look at these in more detail:
Also known as Matrixyl, this is the most common peptide used in skincare.
The result of this anti-ageing peptide is quite remarkable; it tricks your skin’s tissues into thinking that collagen has broken down so that it produces more, resulting in a reduction in wrinkles whilst plumping your skin.
Acetyl hexapeptide – 3
This peptide is known commercially as Argireline.
It works by inhibiting the binding proteins that create tension in the dermis, which causes your skin to wrinkle.
The clinical results of this peptide’s inhibitory effect on neurotransmitter release reduce subconscious muscle movement over time.
A decrease in dynamic facial lines and wrinkles has been demonstrated when delivered to specific targeted facial muscles, making it the perfect treatment for ageing skin.
Argireline is also mainly marketed as a component of eye care products; a 5% cream applied twice daily demonstrated a 27% decrease in the condition of periorbital rhytids after 30 days.
(GHK-Cu) Copper tripeptide
This is one of the most researched innovative peptides for wound healing and skin repair; it has a natural affinity with your skin and strengthens the extracellular matrix.
A substantial increase in collagen production, as much as 70%, was found in those treated with a copper peptide formula, only 50% of those treated with Vitamin C and 40% in those treated with Retinoic acid.
This peptide acts as a signal and carrier peptide, promoting regular collagen and elastin production and proteoglycan and glycosaminoglycan synthesis.
Copper peptides also create an anti-inflammatory response, making them ideal for strengthening an impaired barrier function.
Because of copper peptide’s excellent multitasking and anti-ageing ability on the skin, we use it at full percentage in our DNA age delay complex.
This peptide effectively treats eye puffiness; combined with Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, it has excellent results in reducing fine lines and strengthening the skin around your eyes.
Palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide
These are two innovative peptides that, when combined in skincare products, work around the eyes, helping to reduce the appearance of dark circles;
Follow the link if you want to learn more about ingredients that can help with dark circles.
Which are the ‘wrinkle-relaxing peptides?
In this study, (4) Nguyen et al. demonstrated that peptide-based serums effectively improved expression lines and re-densified skin health in female subjects aged 35–60 years after just 12 weeks of regular application.
The following four wrinkle-relaxing peptides are widely used in skincare:
- Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, confusingly known as Acetyl Hexapeptide-3 or Argireline.
- Acetyl Oxapeptide-3, known in the industry as Snap-8.
- Pentapeptide-18 is also referred to as Leuphasyl.
- Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate – what we in the industry call Syn-Ake.
Phew, that’s a lot of tongue-twisting names to get your head around. Sometimes, these peptides work synergistically; one example is Argirelox, a combination of Argireline and Leuphasyl.
The recommended concentration of these peptides is between 5 and 10%.
To conclude. The naked truth
So, as you can see, many different peptides have various roles on your skin, and the exciting thing about them is that they change your skin’s behaviour.
When it comes to usage, the occasional periodic use of peptides is not advisable; it is all about consistency for them to be truly effective;
They must be used religiously as part of a continuous skincare routine; only then can you expect to see positive results.
Like Copper Peptides, they need to be used regularly, and what will happen is that over time, they build your skin’s foundation, making it more resilient.
Collagen peptides and the related synthetic peptides: A review on improving skin health
GHK Peptide as a Natural Modulator of Multiple Cellular Pathways in Skin Regeneration
Clinical evidence of the efficacy and safety of a new multi-peptide anti-ageing topical eye serum