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Peptides for Skin
If you haven’t heard about the use of peptides in skincare products, we're going to tell you what you’ve been missing. Peptides have come a long way and the new research about how they benefit skin is remarkable. Some of the information out there is overblown, but other aspects of peptides for skin deserve your attention. Here's the facts versus fiction.
What Are Peptides?
First, we need to start with the science: Peptides are fragments of proteins. On their own, peptides are made up of amino acids. When amino acids are combined in certain formations they create specific peptides (and there are hundreds of peptides), and when peptides are formed in a certain way, they make specific proteins.
Proteins are the fundamental building blocks of skin. Without peptides, skin doesn’t remain intact and the result is loss of firmness, appearance of wrinkles, texture changes, and skin that doesn’t bounce back as it once did.
What’s so fascinating about peptides is that abundant research has clearly shown that each of them works in very specific ways to target an exact skincare need. They also teach skin to do what's required to help revitalize these building blocks, which can help revive aging skin.
Peptides in Skincare: A Balanced View
Although there are intriguing reasons to consider peptides as a significant part of a skincare formula as we did with our unique Peptide Booster, we also want you to know there's a lot of hype around what they can do. Sadly, the hype is often completely blown out of proportion. Peptides can do amazing things for skin, but they do not replace what cosmetic corrective procedures can do, as many companies have claimed over the years.
There's no single ingredient solution for all the signs of aging and other skin problems we endure, and peptides are no exception. You would be cheating your skin to think that any single peptide (or any other specific skincare ingredient) is your skin's solo rescuer. We use this multi-ingredient "cocktail" approach when we formulate all Paula's Choice Skincare products, including our Peptide Booster, which contains a mix of eight distinctive peptides, several amino acids, and skin-replenishing ingredients.
Promising new research has us excited about using peptides in skincare products. Their ability to help revitalize skin's building blocks so it becomes more resilient is a wonderful asset for skin, but keep your expectations realistic, or you will be disappointed.
Peptides Need Friends
What’s most important for you to keep in mind is that as special as peptides are, they need "friends" in the form of supporting ingredients to help address all the needs of skin. Any skincare formula worthy of your hard-earned dollars must include the specialized ingredients we talk about all the time such as antioxidants, skin-replenishing ingredients, and skin-restoring-ingredients (which includes peptides). Peptides can do a lot on their own, but they can't do it all alone.
As a reminder (because it's so important), when peptides are blended with antioxidants, skin-soothing ingredients, and skin-replenishing ingredients they can address multiple signs of aging and you will love the results!
Copper Peptide: Fact or Fiction
Speaking of a single skincare ingredient being overly-hyped, copper peptide is certainly one of them. The spin begins with the notion that skin’s building blocks are assembled by copper. So, the logic would follow that you must have copper peptide in your skincare products to get that benefit. Although it’s true copper peptide is a skin-restoring ingredient, there are lots of other peptides with equally, if not more impressive, properties.
To keep it in perspective, although there are studies showing the dramatic positive effects of copper peptide those studies rarely, if ever, compare copper peptides to other peptides or other ingredients like potent antioxidants. It’s important to realize that many ingredients have extraordinary research proving their value for skin, not just copper peptide. That’s the pitfall of getting too wrapped up in one single ingredient. Skincare isn’t that simple!
Ironically there’s also research about copper being potentially toxic to skin. However, this research is mostly about pure copper in the body not as a peptide applied to skin. The negative effects are about what happens when copper is out of balance, meaning too much copper is present.
The Bottom Line
Peptides can be a great addition to your skincare routine because they can address so many skin concerns. But as with all anti-aging ingredients, the best approach is to use a cocktail of great ingredients, including antioxidants and skin-restoring substances (plus daily broad-spectrum sun protection) to visibly improve the health and appearance of your skin!
For more details on peptides, see our Ingredient Dictionary definition and learn how they vary from omega fatty acids and ceramides here.
References for this information:
Cosmetics, May 2017, pages 1-14
ChemMedChem, August 2016, issue 16, pages 1850-1855
Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, May 2016, issue 1, pages 175-178
Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, April 2016, supplemental, pages 63-71
Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, August 2014, pages 1-9
Biological Trace Element Research, August 2013, issue 2, pages 268-274
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, April 2013, pages 1–8
Dermato Endocrinology, July 2012, issue 3, pages 308–319
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About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!