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Peptides 101: The Secret Ingredient to Power-Packed Skincare

We’ve gathered all the info you need to get healthier skin from within with peptides.

We love a product that truly sinks into our skin. Creams and treatments that sit on the surface just don’t cut it. That’s where peptides come in. Because these anti-aging, toning and strengthening powerhouses work with the skin, they hydrate and rejuvenate from the inside out.

Let’s back up. What are peptides and how can you capture their magic? We’ve done our homework, and we don’t mind sharing our notes.

What are peptides?

A simple definition of peptides is that they are like the building blocks for the skin on a cellular level. They’re found in every human cell. In skin cells, peptides make up the proteins responsible for a youthful, dewy glow. Think elastin and even that coveted collagen. These proteins are made up of chains of amino acids, aka amino peptides or peptides for short.

When we’re young, our bodies make tons of collagen and elastin all on their own. Their natural abundance is the reason why seven-year-olds don’t smear on serum every morning. But around age 25, the production of these proteins begins to slow. By age 40, their production can halt pretty abruptly, causing skin to look and feel less hydrated and creating the perfect conditions for fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen and elastin often need a little assistance to keep up with our ever-changing bodies.

Adding peptides, like our favorite blue copper peptide, to your routine can help pump those proteins back into gear. They act in a number of ways with our cells to give skin what it needs to combat those signs of aging and dehydration. And because they’re made up of nearly 50 different amino acids—each with different effects—the combinations and benefits are endless.

How do peptides work?

We know that the “bouncers” of the skin’s natural barrier turn away anything that doesn’t belong, but peptides get the “wave through” because they look and act like the peptides already partying inside.

Unlike other skin care that works to improve on the surface level, products with peptides can work deep on the molecular level of the skin. They can penetrate the outer epidermis layer into the dermis layer even when applied topically. Fun fact, that dermis layer is made up of about 80% collagen. Remember that stalled production? This is where those effects begin to take place.

So peptides get in deep and help out the hard-working proteins in our skin, but what do they do when they get there?

Their presence often signals to the body to ramp up the protein production, creating that coveted plumping effect from the inside out. The increased collagen and other helpful elements make fine lines and wrinkles appear more even, skin texture smoother and can even minimize those pesky pores. Back on the surface of the skin, we’re left with a deeply hydrated dewy look that rivals the younger versions of ourselves.

The skin-refreshing benefits of peptides

Peptides get a lot of hype for their anti-aging effects. Some even say that certain peptides, like blue copper peptides, to a natural form of botox. We all crave a little more cushion in our collagen, but peptide benefits don’t stop at reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Their types of effects can be grouped into six different categories listed below.


Peptides offer gentle, irritation free exfoliation and brightening and have been shown to help reduce acne.


By inhibiting the muscle contraction that causes wrinkles (which we’ll get into more below), peptides can lessen the appearance of fine lines.


Adding peptides to your routine can enhance healing and boost production of new cellular material.


Peptide-rich product assist in the realigning of skin tissue for improved firmness and tone. In the under-eye area, they’ve been shown to brighten dark circles and reduce puffiness.


What most peptides have in common is their ability to hydrate by strengthening natural skin barrier function and increasing hydration retention.


Our skin fights off damaging environmental elements by working to maintain a natural balance, or homeostasis if you want to get technical. Peptides can support that natural functioning and reduce irritation caused by UV rays, razor burn and even stress.

Which peptides are right for your skin?

There are four main groups of peptides as far as skin care is concerned. The first, carrier peptides like blue copper peptides, transport active ingredients like the copper that helps heal your skin. The second, messaging peptides, can tell your skin to do something, like produce more collagen and elastin. Neurotransmitter inhibitor peptides block the muscle contracting signals that contribute to aging, kind of like a topical and more gentle botox. Finally, enzyme inhibitor peptides bar the enzymes that break down the connective tissue, or the dermal matrix, of skin from doing damage.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. Here’s a few of our favorites of each type of peptide and what they can do for your skin.

Carrier Peptide: Blue Copper Peptides

Skin needs elements like copper to help heal and blue copper peptides deliver. You’ll see reduced pores, smother tone and a blurring of fine lines. Blue copper peptides are like “nature’s botox.” If you want skin that looks younger and stands up to the elements, blue copper peptides are your ticket.

Messaging Peptide: Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7

This peptide can signal your skin to boost elasticity and firmness by encouraging more collagen production. It can even reduce damage in the skin done by radiation from UV rays.

Inhibitor Peptides: Acetyl Hexapeptide-8

Research shows this peptide could help prolong the effects of botox, and for those of us who haven’t made it to the derm for injections, they can help keep us out of the chair by firming and brightening our skin.

Enzyme Inhibitor Peptide: Soybean peptide

This peptide taken from soybean proteins has been proven to protect against the harming UVB rays that can cause dark spots and sun damage.

The peptide hack: mix and match

The reason peptides can deliver so many benefits is because they vary depending on the combination of amino acids making up that peptide. There are dozens of peptides that offer dozens of effects. Which one is right for you depends on the effect you’re searching for, but because they’re generally non-irritating, you can combine them to maximize their effects!

Many products offer a blend of the various types of peptides, taking the guesswork out of getting your best skin yet. No matter what your current skin care goals, peptides could level up your game.

Next Up: Strengthen Your Skin’s Moisture Barrier With Three Key Ingredients