Here’s Why Peptides Deserve to Be a Part of Your Skin-care Routine

Whether you’re a skincare beginner or a veteran, chances are you must have been seeing the word peptide pop all over your feed recently. But what exactly do they do for the skin? And are they really worth incorporating into your skin-care routine? Here’s the lowdown on this anti-ageing skincare ingredient that promises healthy, plump, wrinkle-free skin.

By Adarsh Soni
16 Oct 2021

With regular advancement in science (and social media), it’s not surprising that we keep hearing about new skincare ingredients every now and then. But most of the time they’re not actually new. In fact, a lot of these popular skin-care terms have been around for a very long time. The reason why we’re hearing about them now is either because of a trendy dermatologist’s review or a glossy new research paper. Such is the case with peptides. These days, peptides are a part of everything, from serums to night creams and they’ve even started showing up in the form of edible supplements.


What are peptides?
In technical terms, peptides are molecules that are made up of considerably short chains of amino acids. Remember amino acids? That’s the stuff protein is made of. Similarly, even collagen is made up of polypeptide chains. “Collagen has a relatively large molecule size, so it’s difficult to penetrate the skin’s surface when applied topically in the form of a cream or a serum, peptides are smaller, so they can enter your skin more easily,” says Dr Aanchal Panth, a Surat-based dermatologist with over ten years of experience. Peptides also make up elastin and keratin. Think of all these protein-derivatives like a closely knit family that is essential for your skin and hair health.



What can peptides do for your skin?
When it comes to skincare, protein is mostly referred to as collagen—the compound that gives your skin it’s structure and keeps it from falling apart. As we get older, the collagen proteins in our skin break down, contributing to signs of visible ageing like fine lines, wrinkles, and reduced elasticity. “Most peptide-rich products work by either increasing the amount of collagen your cells produce or decreasing the amount that gets broken down, with the end goal being smoother, plumper, radiant skin,” says Dr Panth.

Let’s have a look at some research-backed benefits of peptides for your skin:


Increase collagen production
Let’s start with the main reason behind the resurgence of this skincare ingredient: improved collagen synthesis. While experts are still on the fence about the benefits of topical collagen supplements, peptides have been scientifically proven to stimulate and renew collagen as well as decrease collagen breakdown. According to research by Dr Silke Karin Schagen, Beldio Research, Kramerstrasse, Germany, selected peptides have excellent nontoxicity and stability records, which makes them a near-perfect source of collagen that your skin can actually absorb and use.


Reduce bacterial acne
According to research by Dr Jun Lei, The Third Xiangya Hospital of Central South University, Hunan, China, antimicrobial peptides are cationic (positively charged). These peptides can bind and interact with the negatively charged bacterial cell membranes, ultimately destroying the bacterial cell formations. In simpler terms, there are certain forms of peptides that possess antibacterial properties and can help clear out acne breakouts caused due to bacteria.


Decrease fine lines and wrinkles
Since peptides can stimulate skin to make more collagen, they have anti-aging benefits that reduce fine lines and wrinkles. A research paper by Dr Seng Han Lim, Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, stated that peptides can act like a weakened form of Botox. This is because neurotransmitter peptides can temporarily block chemicals that cause muscle contraction, leading to a visibly reduced appearance in wrinkles. But one must remember that it’s not as effective as professional cosmetic procedures like Botox.


Improve skin texture
When your skin is regularly exposed to sunlight, it ages prematurely. This process is known as photoaging, and it can lead to discoloration, pigmentation, roughness, dryness, and uneven skin texture. According to research by Dr Ling Zhang, College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering, China Agricultural University, China, certain peptides can be used to improve skin texture that has specifically experienced photoaging. Topical application can significantly smoothen your skin’s appearance.


Reduce skin inflammation
According to research by Dr Sara La Manna, Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples, Italy, several peptides identified during inflammatory responses showed anti-inflammatory activities by inhibiting, reducing, and/or modulating the expression and activity of mediators. Simply put, peptides have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe irritation and reduce skin redness.


What’s the best way to introduce peptides to your skincare routine?
Dr Panth says that peptides work for almost all skin types and the most effective way to use them would be in the form of a potent serum. “It’s better to pick a serum because it has prolonged contact with your skin. For comparison, a peptide cleanser won’t work wonders because it can be easily washed off,” she says. “For maximum benefits, try using them in conjunction with other complementary ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin-C,” she adds. If you’re looking for an effective anti-ageing skincare routine, use both retinoids and peptides on alternate days during the PM. Remember to follow them with a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum, and don’t forget your SPF in the morning.


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