These days, peptides are in everything from moisturizers to serums — and they’ve even cropped up in digestible collagen supplements. Many brands have come out with products that are specifically formulated as peptide boosters.
Peptides are more than a new buzzword in skincare, though — they’ve been around for a long time, and they’re here to stay. Jeanine Downie, M.D., F.A.A.D., the director at Image Dermatology PC in Montclair, New Jersey gives the lowdown on peptides and if it’s worth investing in peptide-focused products.
What are peptides?
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, but they’re also the building blocks of peptides. “Collagen itself is made of polypeptides chains,” says Dr. Downie. Collagen is a large molecule, so it’s difficult to penetrate the skin’s surface when applied topically in a collagen cream, peptides are smaller, so they can penetrate skin more easily. Peptides also make up elastin and keratin, two proteins that are essential for skin and hair health.
What are the benefits of peptides for your skin?
According to Dr. Downie, peptides “stimulate your skin to make more collagen,” which means regular use can lead to decrease fine lines and wrinkles. Here’s what to look forward to>
- Smoothing fine lines and wrinkles. Dr. Downie explains that since peptides can stimulate skin to make more collagen, they have anti-aging benefits that reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
- Decreasing inflammation in the skin. Peptides have anti-inflammatory properties that could soothe irritation or redness.
- Increasing skin firmness. While peptides can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, they also can help make skin feel more taut, according to Dr. Downie.
Are peptides safe to use on all skin types?
This superstar skin ingredient is the perfect thing to mix into any anti-aging skincare routine. “Peptides are good for people who are interested in decreasing fine lines and wrinkles, decreasing inflammation and making the skin look firmer,” says Dr. Downie.
Are there any side effects when using peptides?
Since your body actually makes peptides naturally, they are fairly universally tolerated. Most people can use peptides without a problem, but Dr. Downie says minor skin irritation can occur rarely.
Some dermatologist offices offer peptide injections to target fine lines and wrinkles by firming skin, but Dr. Downie says, “Injectable peptides can increase your appetite and cause fluid retention,” she explains. “I don’t recommend under any circumstances.”
What’s the best skincare with peptides?
Dr. Downie prefers peptides in serum form, which allow the ingredient to sink into skin. As a rule, look for products that sit on the skin rather than rinse off — it’s better to opt for a moisturizer or serum than something like a face wash, which doesn’t allow peptides to penetrate skin. Peptides work well with other skincare ingredients like vitamin C or hyaluronic acid, so they’re easy to incorporate into your existing skincare routine.
When trying to find a product with peptides, look for anything that ends with “peptide” or begins with “palmitoyl” on the ingredient label. Here are some of our favorite peptide-containing skincare picks:
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