Healthspan November 06, 2017

You’ve probably heard the word ‘peptides’ a few times already, but what actually are they and why would you want them in your skincare? 

What are peptides?

Peptides are basically fragments of proteins, which are the fundamental building blocks of skin. One of the most important proteins is collagen, which is important for skin’s firmness, elasticity and texture. Unfortunately, a number of things break collagen down, including environmental factors like UV rays and free radicals, as well as the natural passage of time.

When collagen breaks down, it breaks down into specific peptides which act as ‘signals’ or ‘messages’ to your cells that your skin has been damaged and that new collagen needs to be made.

As we get older, this process can need a little help in order to encourage the body to replace the destroyed or damaged collagen. As women, this has a lot to do with the natural decline in our oestrogen, a hormone which plays a particularly important role in collagen’s production. Oestrogen starts decreasing as young as 30 and during and after the menopause declines extremely rapidly.

How can peptides benefit my skin?

The application of peptides directly onto your skin via a skincare product essentially ‘tricks’ your skin into producing more collagen. With an increase in collagen, skin becomes more resilient, with improved strength, texture, density and hydration. However, peptides need to be able to penetrate the skin, which is why using a serum (which has smaller molecules) containing peptides tends to be more effective than a moisturiser (which has larger molecules and therefore doesn’t penetrate as deeply).

Which peptides should I look for?

We’ve been talking about collagen peptides in this article, one of the most popular of which is Matrixyl 3000 (often listed on ingredient lists as Palmitoyl Oligopeptide and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7) which has a long-term effect by stimulating collagen.

How can I make the most of peptides?

As well as ensuring peptides can access the deeper layers of your skin by using peptides in a serum format, it’s also important to note that peptides like Matrixyl have a cumulative result, so you need to keep using your peptide product.

Some women find peptides particularly beneficial at night, when the skin naturally enters a phase of repair. As always, it’s important not to forsake the rest of your skincare routine – no ingredient or product will work to its full potential if your skin isn’t properly cleansed, or if you’re not using it regularly. Also look at the other ingredients, alongside peptides your skin still needs vitamins, phytoestrogens and plenty of love and care to stay happy and healthy.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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