Peptides. Fad or the REAL DEAL?
It seems like some new skincare WONDER ingredient comes out almost daily. We hear things like, "If you're not using (fill in the blank), you're missing out" and "gets rid of dark circles overnight." Most of these promises are overblown. Marketers want you to believe you're missing out so you buy their product with 'said' ingredient. And hard working people like you are left feeling ripped off when that ingredient doesn't deliver as promised.
It's sad really, because we all want the same thing. You want to buy skincare products with ingredients that really improve your skin AND marketers are only too happy to sell you those proven skincare products. But not all ingredients are worth the hype - so we're all left disappointed.
But there's some good news! Peptides really work! They're THE REAL DEAL! Read on to learn more!
What are peptides?
So to truly understand peptides, you need to know more about collagen. A little science should do the trick!
Collagen is an important part of your skin. It's a protein made up long chains of amino acids strung together. The long chains can be broken down into shorter segments of 3 - 5 amino acids called peptides. These amino acids / peptides are needed to maintain a healthy level of collagen - and reduce signs of aging.
Peptides have been part of anti-aging skin care for quite a while. The interest in peptides started when the National Institute of Health backed research on Matrixyl (palmitoyl pentapeptide-3). Initially, the studies were done to learn more about peptides and their effect on wound healing. Because of these studies, we now know that signal peptides (like Matrixyl) and copper peptides are small proteins that stimulate skin cells to produce more collagen.
To tie it altogether . . . collagen plays an important role in how your skin ages. It is the foundation that gives your skin a firm, young appearance. When collagen levels are high, skin looks young and fresh. As we age the levels decline and and wrinkles begin to form. While wrinkle-filling injections like Juvederm and other hyaluronic acid fillers can temporarily fill in the gaps, researchers believe that applying peptides might help your skin make more collagen on its own.
How do peptides work?
Scientists don’t fully understand how peptides work. Based on the scientific rules that we currently use (The 500 Dalton Rule for Skin Penetration), peptides should not be able to work because the molecules are too large to penetrate the skin. Yet peptides DO penetrate the top layer of skin and send signals to our cells to tell them how to function.
Some peptides act like growth factors, stimulating skin cells to turn over more quickly like young skin. Other peptides work like Botox to relax facial muscles and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
3 Ways Peptides Improve Wrinkles & Make You Look Younger:
1. Peptides signal your skin to make collagen. As we age, collagen is destroyed and replaced more slowly. Young, beautiful skin slowly becomes wrinkled and thin.
Collagen breaks down from the damage associated with aging. When it breaks down, it forms specific peptides that tell skin to make new collagen – but the rate of collagen production is slow.
Breakdown overtakes the rate of collagen replacement and there is a loss of about 1% of collagen for each year of life. (So a 30 year old will have lost 30% of their skin’s collagen.)
Applying peptide creams tricks your skin into thinking that it has lost collagen and needs to make more.
The most common of these signaling peptides is palmitoyl pentapeptide (Matrixyl). It is found in many skin products and works to improve the appearance of fine lines.
Products with Matrixyl: Strivectin, Medik8 Firewall, Arcona Peptide Hydrating Complex, Osmotics Eye Surgery Under Eye Rejuvenator, and Oil of Olay’s Regenerist.
2. Copper peptides promote collagen and elastin production and act as an antioxidant. When copper is attached to a peptide, the peptide delivers the copper to the lower layers of the skin. Copper has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which help prevent infections, and make it effective in skin healing. It has been used for many years to treat wounds.
Copper exists naturally in our tissues and works as an anti-inflammatory in wound healing. Low copper levels have been associated with many degenerative diseases, increased inflammation and accelerated aging. So the thinking is that low levels of copper and increased inflammation might respond positively when treated with copper peptides.
Studies have shown that copper peptides promote collagen and elastin production and act as antioxidants. They are regarded as one of the most potent ingredients for skin regeneration. They are needed for wound healing and help to remove damaged collagen and elastin. They firm, smooth, and soften skin by increasing the production of skin-plumping hyaluronic acid – and they do it more quickly than most other anti-aging skin care products.
An independent 2002 study on 20 women showed that the tripeptide GHK, a specific copper peptide, increased collagen in 70% of those treated, when compared with 50% for vitamin C and 40% for retinoic acid. Additionally, copper tripeptides may assist in hair growth. Researchers think it works on the follicle by increasing cell proliferation and decreasing follicle cell death, resulting in an increase in follicle size. It’s similar to the way that minoxidil works on hair.
Products with copper peptides: Osmotics Blue Copper 5 Prime moisturizer, StriVectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles & Stretch Marks, Perricone MD Blue Plasma Orbital, Ole Henricksen Ultimate Lift Firming Serum, Kiehl’s Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream, and Neutrogena’s Visibly Firm Night Cream.
3. Neuropeptides block transmission of signals from nerves to the muscles of your face. Some studies show that one neuropeptide, argireline (acetyl hexapeptide-3), blocks the release of neurotransmitters. It produces a mild Botox-like effect to keep the muscles from contracting. The result is smoother skin.
Some neuropeptide creams claim to be as effective as Botox injections. Aside from the Erasa studies, I haven't found any good double blind placebo studies to back up these claims. And even Erasa doesn't claim to be "as effective as Botox."
Products that include neuropeptides: Perricone MD Neuropeptide Facial Conformer and Erasa XEP 30 Extreme Line Lifting and Rejuvenation Concentrate.
The Erasa product won an Allure Best of Beauty Award. And Nicki Zevola Benvenuti of FutureDerm.com LOVES Erasa XEP.
All the great reviews of this product made me want to try it. Read my review here: Erasa XEP 30 Review + Before & After Pictures – Better Than Botox?
How to Use Peptides
Except for the immediate effects of some neuropeptides, most peptides take time to work. Results start to show in 4 -12 weeks. Upkeep is important. If you stop using peptides, you will notice a difference.
What to Look for in a Peptide Product
A couple of things have to go right in order for peptides to actually work. Because they are break-down products of proteins, they have to be stabilized. If they are not stabilized, the peptides continue to break down, and over time become useless. Additionally, peptides must be delivered by a cream that allows them to penetrate the skin.
Look for the word “peptides” on the product packaging. It may also say “soy peptides,” “copper peptides,” or “amino acids.”
Shop the Peptide Skincare Products in This Post:
SkinCeuticals makes a product called Metacell Renewal B3 that contains a 2.5% tripeptide complex called tetradecyl aminobutyroylvalylaminobutyric urea trifluoroecetate. According to Dermarie.com this peptide is used for its ability to stimulate the production of collagen types I, IV, VII and XVI. It supports natural hyaluronic acid levels while enhancing skin’s firmness and reducing fine lines. The increased collagen production increases skin firmness and the elasticity of damaged skin.
A dermatologist-controlled 12-week study of Metacell was conducted on 56 female subjects, ages 40-55. The women in the study had a 20.9% improvement in fine lines, and 10.9% improvement in skin firmness.
Skin care is a lifelong process. It’s much easier to prevent deep lines and signs of aging than it is to correct them.
Look for skin care products that are clinically proven.
- Salicylic acid works for acne.
- Green tea calms redness.
- Retinol improves dark under eye circles.
- Alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids, and peptides are all great for fine lines and wrinkles.
Any product that builds and / or maintains the right amount of collagen is the key to beautiful skin!
Amy Takken is a registered nurse with 20+ years of experience helping people improve their health. Her in-depth skincare articles have been featured on Nazarian Plastic Surgery and The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery. Amy loves research and constantly watches for new products and treatments to help you improve your skin’s health – because healthy skin is beautiful! To reach Amy, visit our contact page.
Masterpiece Skin Restoration is your online resource for all things medical aesthetics, skincare, beauty, and wellness. We keep you up to date on leading edge technology and the services available to help you restore your natural beauty.
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The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some - like melanoma - can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!
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