Peptides are one of the most revered anti-aging ingredients in the skincare biz — and for good reason. They’re a scientific wonder worth waxing poetic about, but we’ll try and keep it to a minimum
What Are Peptides?
Peptides are short chains of amino acids that act as building blocks for foundational proteins like elastin, keratin and collagen, which are responsible for your skin’s strength and durability. While peptides have been imbued with magical properties by many, we’ll add the disclaimer that they are not, in fact, magical.
That said, peptides are impressively powerful. For starters, peptides are found in every human cell and play a major role in how our body functions, often acting as a messenger working with our cells to help give the body what it needs. Aside from keeping our skin intact, peptides — when applied topically — help direct skin cells to build collagen and elastin, encouraging the skin to act younger to yield a smoother, firmer appearance. They also hydrate and aid in soothing the skin.
But that’s not all. Because they’re made up of up to 50 amino acids, peptides are also extremely mutable. Add, subtract, or replace one amino acid and you’re likely to get a new peptide with completely different benefits.
The Best Peptides for Skincare
Most great things come with a caveat and peptides are no exception. Here’s the catch: As close to magical as they are, it’s important to know that there is no singular peptide that can solve everything. That’s why they’re best applied in the company of other peptides because why choose one color when you can have the whole rainbow? There are literally hundreds of peptides, so you can’t really go wrong when choosing your peptide cocktail. However, there are some peptides that are more effective for the skin than others. For firmer, smoother, younger-looking skin, keep an eye out for skincare products that feature a combination or selection of these peptides:
- Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 brightens the skin tone and promotes the appearance of firm-looking skin.
- Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 works to give your skin a supple, bouncy appearance.
- Copper Tripeptide-1 makes the skin look and feel strong and healthy.
- Dipeptide-2 reduces the appearance of puffiness, especially under the eyes.
- Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 helps reduce the visible signs of aging by boosting elasticity and firmness.
When combined, most peptides’ benefits are increased tenfold, so go forth in your search with that front of mind. But to really unlock their potential, consider products that combine them with antioxidants and other skin-repairing ingredients — it’s an anti-aging trick that offers fantastic results.
Did You Say Blue Copper Peptides?
Fun fact: the building blocks of your skin are formed by copper, which explains why copper peptides should be a thing you want in your skin care. Known for their “botox-like” skin-repairing properties, copper peptides and blue copper peptides work as antioxidants to promote collagen and elastin production, which can help firm the skin, reduce the appearance of pores and drastically smooth the appearance of fine lines. In addition to helping generate collagen, they also maintain the collagen that is generated — no hard work is done in vain here. What’s more, copper peptides have been known to mitigate acne by neutralizing the skin’s bacterial concentration.
Introducing Peptides Into Your Skincare
Finding the right product and the right formulation is key to maximizing the benefits of peptides. While peptide-enriched cleansers are a great way to get your daily dose, some derms say products that aren’t easily washed off the skin — like moisturizers, serums and eye creams — are a better way to get your money’s worth. To double down on what was stated above, peptides need other peptides to really shine, so look for products that feature a mix of peptides and, ideally, ones that incorporate niacinamide (also known as Vitamin B3), Vitamin C and antioxidants, too. From there, apply with abandon, but especially in the morning (before your SPF) and at night.