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Polypeptides in skincare – unsung heroes or not worth the hype?


So, you have questions around peptides, let us guess, what are they? should I think of them as future insurance for my skin or just another buzzword in the skincare world? Keep reading to find out if polypeptides are worth the hype or if everyone’s just riding the viral and very trendy collagen wave?


What are polypeptides?

Here’s the science bit, peptides are two or more short-chain amino acids. Amino acids are the building block of proteins in the skin and body; collagen and elastin are the main types of proteins. They send signals throughout the body to tell your cells to produce more collagen and repair damage.


Peptides are used by the body in almost all its metabolic functions - metabolism, digestion, respiration, immune response. When it comes to your skin, peptides are responsible for hydration, immune response, pigment delivery (to a certain degree), as well as collagen and elastin manufacture and repair.


As non-fragmented proteins (like collagen) cannot be directly absorbed through the top layer of skin, peptides are used as they are smaller and therefore able to penetrate deep into the cellular level.


How do polypeptides work?

I’ve heard them once being described as a lock and key effect in the skin, which is perfect! For every cell receptor (lock) there is a peptide (key). The peptide (key) will search out, find, and attach itself to its relevant cell receptor (lock) to unlock the way that skin cell works and make it become more optimal i.e., build more collagen.


The genius part - when peptides are topically applied to the skin, the skin sees it as a damaged skin cell, starting the necessary repair and rebuild work! It’s believed they do this by sending signals through the nervous system. By using this system, they don’t need to penetrate deep into the skin, these signals can send quick messages to cells to activate/jump start various functions into action.


How does the skin benefit from using polypeptides?

WOW! peptides, where to begin. They are quite simply the best way to repair and optimise the health of your skin. Peptides fall into three main categories when applied to cosmetics: signal peptides, carrier peptides, and those that inhibit nerve signals, each acting as messengers to their corresponding cells.


  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines

  • Strengthens the skin barrier to support overly stressed skin from overuse of retinol, Vitamin C, AHA/BHAs

  • Locks in hydration

  • Aids in collagen production

  • Has anti-inflammatory properties

  • Helps make skin more firm

  • Smooths out complexion

  • Repairs damaged skin

  • Important active ingredient - preventative step to use in your 20s & 30s - even more important when your 40+

  • Zero side effects!! no downtime, no irritation


How should I use polypeptides?

Peptides can come in all skincare products, serums, eye creams, moisturisers, masks etc. Ideally, they need to come in a delivery system that will allow them time to sink into your skin, rather than say a facial cleanser when they’re washed off your face too quickly.


Don’t forget your body, if you’re starting to see crepey, wrinkly skin, invest in a body product with peptides to put on the back of hands, arms, elbows etc


Can I use polypeptides with my other actives?

Peptides, when used in combination with other active and skin treatments become the ‘cherry on top of the cake’ as they help to maximize regeneration and skin health.


When paired with acids, exfoliants, retinol, vitamin C, niacinamide, antioxidants, they work quietly in the background doing much of the heavy lifting. They work slow and steady to give you long-term results, offering future insurance for your skin. True unsung workhorses in skincare.


Another perfect partner for peptides is ceramides (a barrier repairing ingredient).


Picture a brick wall where the mortar has started to come away and the bricks are loose. In this analogy, the bricks are peptides (collagen, elastin) and the mortar is ceramides (the glue). Adding ceramides (mortar) to your skin, repairs and strengthens your wall (peptides) significantly reduces trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) in the skin cells, leaving your skin hydrated, healthy, plump, and glowing. It’s also much more protected from external environment aggressors i.e., pollution, sunlight, make-up, overuse and/or harsh retinol, Vitamin C etc.


Takeaway

Peptides support skin health for all ages and skin types but don’t expect instant results. They are there in the background working hard, doing the heavy lifting, making sure everything is working properly, collagen and elastin are being boosted, hydration is boosted when needed, trying to regulate pigmentation, regulate capillary formulation.


If you’re looking to prevent skin ageing in the future, then try peptides.

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