Text by: Christal Leung
In recent years, new claims in scientific research have put peptide chemistry on the pedestal. This novel field of skin care research has people scratching their heads – what exactly is it? Does it really live up to the hype? And of course, where is it even found?
Here are some frequently asked questions about this revolutionary skin care ingredient.
A: Peptides are chains of amino acids that chemically bind togetherto form proteins. Proteins are known as the building blocks of life,making up ofas much as 20% of our total body weight. Peptides and proteins perform a wide array of functions in our body;a family of proteins or peptides known as protein hormones can even perform endocrine functions contributing to a constant internal balance of the body. Therefore, peptides are virtually found in all body tissues, organs, and systems.
A: Peptides make up proteins, which is the main component of collagen, a substance in the deep layer of the skin. Collagen provides structural support and contributes to supple, firm, and lifted complexion. As we age, our collagen matrix gets degraded and cannot be replaced, causing the skin to lose its elasticity and ability to store moisture, leading to dullness, sagging and other signs of aging. Therefore, peptides are essential in maintaining healthy skin.
A: Molecular biologists believe that by introducing chains of peptides into the skin, they can “trick” the skin into building collagen using the foreign peptides as raw materials. Specific types of peptides also offer a range of skin benefits. Pentapeptides help absorb moisture, copper peptides promote wound healing, andother proprietary peptides can control sebum production, melanin degradation, and acne.
However, it is important to note that while peptides can perform various functions, how they’re delivered dictates whether the product can reach the bottom layers of the skin. Many skin care formulas today utilize liposome technology, or the compressing of ingredients into nano-size particles to increase product absorption.
A: Peptide is a general term that refers to a class of molecules with amino acids that are bound together by covalent bonds. The varying combination of amino acids and constituents distinguish one type of peptide from another, and thus can have very different functions.
A: Basically, there are three types of peptides commonly used in skin care research:
Pentapeptides work by stimulating the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, two natural components of skin that people lose as they age. Because collagen and hyaluronic acid work to support the skin structure, their loss results in wrinkles and the loss of elasticity.Without this kind of peptide, skin becomes saggy and yellowish.
Neuropeptides act by affecting neurotransmitters in the skin. Neuropeptides bind with receptors present at synaptic junctions between neural and muscles cells to modulate cellular activity. When this happens, nerve cells in the skin stop communicating with one another to reduce muscle contraction, making the muscles more relaxed. The overall effect of increased neuropeptides is firmer and smoother skin.
Other functional peptides include chains of amino acids that can inhibit bacterial growth in the poresto reduce the occurrence of acne.
A: Absolutely. We are all born with peptides and our body needs peptides in order to function properly. In rare occasions, peptides cause skin irritation and adverse reactions, but any irritation can be avoided by simply inspecting the ingredients in a product to make sureit does not contain known irritants and allergens. And for all products – whether they contain peptides or not – it is important to following the instructions for use provided by the manufacturer, and undergo the skin sensitivity test before using any new product.
A: No single ingredient or a single class of ingredients can pose as a universal solution to all skin problems. An ideal skin care regimen includes a wide variety of substances, including vitamins, humectants, emollients, growth factors, and even something as basic as oxygen. These are incorporated into skin care formulations that should be free of alcohol, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients that may be harmful to the skin or counteract the effects and functions of peptides.
A: Because they are the building blocks of proteins, peptides can be naturally-occurring, but they may also be synthesized in a laboratory.