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Peptides: Understanding the Basics and How to Use Them

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If you have been keeping up on what’s been going on in the skincare world, you know that everyone is raving about peptides. Peptides are quickly becoming the most recommended skincare ingredient to incorporate into your routine. The possible anti-aging benefits and revitalization of your skin are what everyone is drawn into about peptides. Before trying any skincare products for the first time, it’s best to research different ingredients and how they can affect you. It’s also important to take note that it takes time to see results with any product, and it’s best to keep expectations realistic. 

So, what are peptides? What are the benefits? What should we know before adding them to our skincare routines?

What are peptides? 

According to Husein Husein el Hadmed MD & Rafael Fernandez Castillo Ph.D., “peptides in skincare products are chemical compounds composed of short chains of amino acids.” They act as building blocks of proteins such as collagen, elastin, and keratin. Everyone knows that these proteins are the foundations of your skin, responsible for its strength, texture, and resilience. What not many people know is that without peptides, our skin will become less intact, which can lead to a loss of firmness, thus the appearance of wrinkles. Peptides are used to protect the skin barrier from natural signs of aging and environmental aggressors. The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology states that “peptides have the ability to penetrate the upper layer of the skin and can trigger specific functions such as collagen support so that skin can be firm and elastic.” 


There are three common types of peptides found in skincare products:

  1. Signal Peptides – increase collagen production
  2. Carrier Peptides – deliver copper to the skin to increase firm skin
  3. Neurotransmitter Inhibiting Peptides – reduce wrinkles that have been caused by lack of muscle activity

From influencers to celebrities to the everyday person, almost everyone has been incorporating peptides in their routines due to the long-term benefits they see. While they can prevent and alleviate signs of aging, they are not the end all be all single ingredient to stop aging. 

What to expect

Overall, peptides will provide various benefits. This includes plumping the skin, increasing the skin’s firmness and elasticity, and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. A clinical study evaluated the peptide complex as having high efficacy against skin aging. The conclusion has been reached after two weeks, once 22 women reported significant improvements in wrinkles appearance. More precisely, glabellar frown lines went through most changes, while the crow’s feet suffered minor improvements. 

All peptides are not created equally. We have mentioned the different types of peptides, but let’s see what actually makes them different. 

Signal peptides, as stated by the Journal Of Cosmetic Dermatology, “act as messengers that trigger the synthesis of collagen by fibroblasts to increase collagen production.” Some types of signal peptides you will find on the ingredients list can be Lysine‐threonine‐threonine‐lysine‐serine.

Carrier peptides “can be used to stabilize and deliver copper, an important element for angiogenesis, and wound healing.” Some examples of carrier peptides in skincare can be lysyl oxidase, superoxide dismutase, or cytochrome c oxidase. 


Finally, we get to the neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides. The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology states “the peptide must penetrate the skin and subcutaneous cellular tissue so that it can reach deeper muscles in the concentrations needed.” This will ultimately reduce fine lines and wrinkles. This can be listed in products like Pentapeptide‐3 and Acetyl‐glutamyl‐glutamyl‐methoxil‐glutaminyl‐arginyl‐arginylamide. 

How to use peptides

Searching for the right product can be overwhelming. While you can find peptides in most products like creams, serums, and cleansers, it’s best to pick the product that can penetrate the peptides into your skin. You probably know the answer: serums. When you find peptides in serum, they are more likely to benefit the skin as opposed to a cleanser. This is because, in cleansers, you wash off any active ingredients. Serums and moisturizers are a better option to allow the skin to soak up all the amazing benefits that peptides can offer.

Once you find the right product, you’ll need to read the directions to see how often to apply. Most products will direct you to apply the peptides once or twice a day to reach the maximum benefit. For a superpower skincare routine, pair your peptides with an antioxidant serum like Resveratrol. Don’t forget your SPF! It’s no use doing all this work for your skin without protecting it from the sun.

Related: 10 Best Peptide Serums

Peptide products

Need some guidance to choose the right product? Here are some beginner-friendly options to start incorporating peptides into your routine immediately: 

the ordinary buffet peptide serum

The Ordinary Buffet Peptide Serum

The Ordinary is known for providing simple formulas that perform the best. To boost radiance and plump the face, this product will be your best friend. This Buffet is formulated with various peptide complexes, as well as 11 amino acids and hyaluronic acid, working together to fight and prevent signs of aging.

Peter Thomas Roth Peptide Moisturizer

Peter Thomas Roth Peptide Moisturizer

Peter Thomas, much like The Ordinary, offers simple, effective formulas for an amazing price point. Packed with over 20 peptides, squalane, and hyaluronic acid, this firm moisturizer will work to boost natural collagen and hydrate the skin. If your concerns are fine lines, wrinkles, or the loss of elasticity, this moisturizer is the perfect addition to your routine. This formula is also cruelty-free and vegan.

Paula's Choice Peptide Booster

Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster

Paula’s Choice is a brand that has always been a fan-favorite. This Peptide Booster is no different. The perfect all in one to target certain skin concerns. From improving the skin’s firmness to speeding up surface cell renewal to fading discoloration, this product is the all-in-one that has your back. Paula’s Choice is known for helping consumers to understand how to check for the perfect ingredients.

SkinCeuticals Peptide Complex for Dark Circles

SkinCeuticals A.G.E Eye Complex for Dark Circles

SkinCeuticals has high performing products with a higher price tag attached. This dreamy eye cream will do wonders at targeting crow’s feet, dark circles, and puffiness. Formulated with synergistic peptides, blueberry extract, and proxylane, this cream will bring life back into your eyes. What makes this eye cream different is the optical diffusers to diffuse light and boost the radiance around the under eyes.

Final words

Whatever you decide to do from here, it’s important to make sure to research before incorporating any new product into your routine. Soon you too will have plump, hydrated, and firm skin in no time. Everyone will be dying to know what’s in your routine.

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