Everything You Need To Know About Peptides In Your Skincare

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Wouldn't the world be a better place if one product could take care of all your skincare woes? Unfortunately, that magical product is yet to be created. With so many skincare products on the market, it can be overwhelming and confusing to choose the right products for you. While some skincare ingredients actually do what they claim, some ingredients have yet to prove their worth in our vanities. One of the star ingredients that deserves all the recognition is vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Furthermore, Los Angeles-based and board-certified dermatologist Mamina Turegano told Byrdie, "[Vitamin C] also helps build collagen and can help the superficial skin cells deal with hyperpigmentation." Collagen is responsible for keeping your skin firm and youthful and using vitamin C can increase collagen synthesis in your skin.


Of course, there's also retinol, on which New York City-based dermatologist Rita Linker told Real Simple, "Also known as vitamin A, this is one of the most effective skin-transforming ingredients." It helps with aging, but it's not a lone wolf on the scene. Now, the spotlight is on peptides, which you've likely heard of if you're a skincare enthusiast, though it's lesser known than retinol or vitamin C. Peptides have become more common in recent years, with their anti-aging properties proving to be noteworthy competition for other skincare ingredients (via Skin by Lovely). This naturally means that more products contain peptides, too. Take Paula's Choice Peptide Booster, for instance. Paula's Choice specifically notes that it makes "skin more resilient," which sounds pretty great to us.


Ultimately, peptides are worth learning more about, so buckle up because we've got you covered.

What are peptides?

Before dismissing peptides as yet another ingredient that may not benefit you much, you need to learn what they can do for your skin. But first, what are peptides? As noted by The Derm Review, peptides are made of amino acids, which are "the building blocks of proteins," so you can remember them as "little proteins." Peptides occur naturally in the body and are the proteins the skin needs to make collagen, which is responsible for giving our body and skin their shape and structure. Our skin looks firm and plump because of collagen and peptides also make elastin and keratin that help our skin stay "smooth and supple." So, if you want firm, plump, smooth, and supple skin, you need peptides.


Moreover, dermatologist David Kim told Allure, "Peptides in skin-care products are designed to boost and replenish amino acids, which are the building blocks for collagen production," and he added that more collagen production means fewer fine lines and less saggy skin. Amino acids are the tiniest proteins, and peptides can act like collagen, another protein, and help skin health. Due to their size, they easily absorbed into the skin to work their magic.

Types of peptides

Using peptides in your skincare is beneficial to your skin because the tiny molecules can go deep into your skin and help strengthen your skin barrier and reduce inflammation. According to Reserveage's resident dermatologist Tiffany Libby, various peptides are used in skin care products, and they "act as little messengers and instruct skin cells to perform various functions," so they perform multiple functions depending on the type (via Who What Wear). The four common kinds of peptides are signal peptides (promote the synthesis of collagen and elastin), enzyme-inhibiting peptides (prevent the breakdown of elastin), carrier peptides (bring nutrients to the skin for various purposes like wound healing), and neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides (act like neurotoxins to prevent fine lines).


Furthermore, carrier peptides help balance wrinkles, lightening them. A popular one is matrixyl, per The Derm Review. Enzyme inhibitor peptides, as the name suggests, prevent certain enzymes from doing their job, such as breaking down collagen because more collagen means younger-looking skin. Neuropeptides are called "nature's Botox" as they "temporarily freeze a muscle" like Botox, so you look like you have fewer wrinkles and it helps reduce inflammation too. Argireline, sometimes known as acetyl hexapeptide-3, is an example of neuropeptides (via Peptide Sciences).

Benefits of peptides

Peptides perform various functions, all of which help your skin look younger and fresher. While peptides exist naturally in the body, you can also employ topical peptides to reap more benefits.

On this, Nava Greenfield, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, told MindBodyGreen, "Ingredients developed small enough to penetrate the skin yet strong enough to be effective at skin rejuvenation are exciting, and peptides have demonstrated potential as a possible ingredient to help the skin in exactly that way!" Depending on the peptides, they can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles by boosting collagen production, peptides like Argireline help skin texture by acting like Botox, and peptides like oligopeptide even toughen up your skin barrier as it helps "stimulate skin regeneration and the production of hyaluronic acid."


As noted by Science.org, some peptides' healing properties have anti-inflammatory benefits that can help your skin breathe, and carrier peptides restore damaged skin. Another thing to love about peptides is that they work well with vitamin C and retinol. Since they work wonders for the skin, adding them to your skincare routine might not be a bad idea.

Side effects of peptides

Peptides give you smoother, firmer, and younger-looking skin. However, if you have very sensitive or reactive skin, you might experience irritation, but that's not always the peptides' fault. David Kim, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, doesn't think people will experience harmful side effects while using peptides but told Allure, "If someone has a [negative] reaction, it's most likely from the preservatives, other chemicals, or essential oils in the formula, not the peptides." Healthline adds that some people could have a peptide allergy, which is rare but not impossible. So, you want to do your homework and choose one without those ingredients that might irritate you.


According to The Derm Review, most people's skin adjusts really well to peptides. However, there is always a tiny possibility of getting "redness, irritation, and peeling" depending on your skin type, the brand of peptides you're using, or other factors, so it might be smart to do a little patch test to see how your skin reacts to it as you wouldn't want to use a product that adds extra stress to your skin.

Best peptide skincare products

After learning about all the magical benefits of peptides in skincare, you may want to add them to your routine. However, with so many peptides and tons of options in beauty aisles- it's certainly not the easiest decision. Here are some of the best peptide skincare products for which your skin will thank you.


Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurfacing Serum is a vegan peptide serum made of 11 signal peptides that help increase collagen and elastin production for "plump, bouncy skin." It also has lactic acid to gently exfoliate for a brighter complexion. Dr. Tiffany Libby recommends SKINMEDICA TNS Recovery Complex because it has a patented growth factor blend and can help make wrinkles less noticeable and even smoothen out your skin texture. While peptides need more research, they seem promising and might be a great addition to your vanity.

If you want a more affordable pick, The Ordinary Matrixyl 10% + HA may be for you. It combines the powerful benefits of carrier peptide matrixyl, which helps combat wrinkles, and hyaluronic acid for added hydration.