A peptide is a small chain of amino acids, the building blocks that make up proteins. The human body makes peptides for an astounding number of vital functions. In skin care, peptides work to teach skin how to help revitalize its own collagen and other natural building blocks so they can ward off wrinkles and signs of aging.
Unlike synthetic compounds or chemical peels, which often have side effects, peptides are naturally-occurring and proven safe to use in skin care products. When formulated properly, they have been shown to offer a wide variety of skin benefits.
Peptides are best formulated in leave-on products like serums and moisturizers, as they work well when they have prolonged contact with the skin. They can also be found in a range of skin concern treatments, eye creams and sunscreens. However, when they are incorporated into rinse-off products, such as cleansers, they won’t be as effective.
Because of their small size, peptides can easily penetrate the outer layer of the skin. This allows them to act as messengers for the other cells in the skin, triggering communication between the different parts of the skin. In turn, this positively restructures the DNA and helps to “turn back the clock” on common concerns, including fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone and melasma.
Fortunately, there are many great food sources of peptides, which can be incorporated into the diet as a supplement or eaten in the form of a protein shake. Milk, for example, contains peptides derived from whey and casein proteins. These peptides stimulate stem cell activation and differentiation, which can lead to the production of specialist cells such as keratinocytes and fibroblasts. The combination of these two processes leads to new tissue formation, resulting in skin that is smoother and firmer.