This is Why You Need Peptides in Your Skincare

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Rarely do we buy into marketing campaigns desperate our dollar. (Okay, I do...what can I say? I’m a sucker for a good tagline.) But sometimes marketing isn’t pure hype, it’s backed by enough compelling science to warrant optimism and a first purchase. Peptides are that rare case — but not because they single-handedly right all wrongs. Like everything we get excited about here at Mirra, they go back to the very building blocks of how skin works. And there are hundreds of them each with unique traits and benefits, which is the true beauty of peptides (1, 2, 3).

Each peptide works in a specific way, targeting specific concerns. Not the number one fan of smile lines? There’s a peptide for that. Looking to brighten up your complexion? There’s a peptide for that, too. Skin stressed out? There’s even a peptide that helps enhance stress tolerance and prevent damage.

But with names like acetyl hexapeptide-37, matrixyl or argireline, deciphering peptides-speak is exhausting work. We did the heavy lifting so you can just reap the benefits. You’re welcome.

What are peptides in Skincare?

Primer on Peptides

Rewind. Let’s first all agree on what a peptide is by working backwards before we fast-forward into which one(s) you need. Peptides are active chains of amino acids. Amino acids form proteins. Proteins are the literal building blocks of life. Also, your skin. In the human body’s composition, peptides are second only to water, and, like water, they’re vital to just about every bodily function at a cellular level (4, 5). Peptides are the boss babes your cells look to for direction. Without peptides, those amino acid chains that are responsible for giving proteins their structure, transporting nutrients and telling other cells what to do, the blocks come tumbling down. Goodbye, firmness and smoothness. Hello, lines and texture changes.

How do peptides affect collagen production?

Queen Collagen

If proteins are the building blocks of skin, one in particular forms the bulk of the foundation: collagen. Collagen makes up 75% of your skin and is the protein most responsible for giving skin its strength, structure and smoothness (6, 7). And, the rumors are true, collagen production slows down with each new journey around the sun and becomes more susceptible to fragmenting, thus, weakening our skin’s strength, structure and smoothness as we age, because stress (8, 9).

Side note: Collagen production isn’t just about the vanity of skin appearance (zero judgement from this corner, 99 percent of my skincare decisions are based on end results). Collagen is a requirement for healthy bones, ligaments and tendons, too. So keeping your levels up is a good idea, whether you’re going for the ultimate glow or just want to get deeper into pigeon at your next yoga retreat.

But the right peptides can help keep collagen levels up. Remember how peptides tell other cells what to do? In this case, applying them topically signals to your skin that it needs to produce collagen now by tricking it into believe it’s broken down too much collagen (10, 11). Boosting collagen is one of the primary reasons skincare aficionados turn to peptides, both topically and as oral supplements, but their hyper-targeted (and fundamentally effective) benefits don’t stop at collagen.

Which Peptides are Best for Skin?

A Peptide Portfolio

The other 25% of your skin’s makeup is important, too. The right peptide can help with exfoliation, hydration, brightening — even stress (12, 13, 14). Here’s a little peptide cheat sheet to use the next time you try to decode the ingredient list of a ‘peptide-infused’ lotion or potion.

Collagen Boosters

  • Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-2 combined with palmitoyl oligopeptide — also known as Matrixyl 3000 — helps regulate cells involved with collagen renewal.

  • Palmitoyl tripeptide-5 activates collagen production.

  • Palmitoyl dipeptide-5, palmitoyl dipeptide-6 and tripeptide-5 help stimulate collagen in the skin.

  • Copper peptides, one of the most common, contains trace copper and amino acids known to help boost collagen production and hair growth.

Exfoliators

  • Hexanoyl dipeptide-3 norleucine acetate helps boost cell exfoliation by competing with desmosomes (the proteins that hold skin together).

Hydrators

  • Acetyl hexapeptide-37 helps water move through the epidermis, as well as promotes collagen synthesis.

Brighteners

  • Oligopeptide-68 inhibits regulatation of melanogenic enzymes and claims t to be a better at skin brightening than vitamin C

  • Tetrapeptide-38 helps reduce the appearance of dark spots.

Antioxidants

  • Azeloyl tetrapeptide-21 helps prevent damage from free radicals.

Firmers

  • Hexapeptide-11 helps regulate stress and kicks these into high gear: transmembrane proteins, matrix proteins and skin lipids.

  • Argireline, the neuropeptide OG, blocks the release of acetylcholine (ACh) which is necessary for forming muscle contractions, thus fine lines.

Stress Relievers

  • Acetyl tetrapeptide-22 enhances stress tolerance and prevents damage by increasing the heat-shock proteins.

Mix Them Up: Look for a Peptide Blend

Even if you’re a one-shot, zero-steps no-maintenance kinda person when you it comes to your skincare routine, consider peptides — this lazy girls best skincare friend. And not just any peptide. Many products on the market today, wise to selling pitches of multi-benefits, contain a blend of peptides that can, yes, deliver multiple results. So, maybe, especially, if you’re a on-shot, no-maintenance kinda person with your skincare, peptides are the step for you. With peptides, it’s not about adding a lot of one kind, it’s about choosing a blend that’s the equivalent of a well-balanced cocktail that won’t put your skin over the edge, but keep it consistently happy.

Peptide Pep Talk

Like everything in skincare’s latest and greatest trends, don’t go into peptides expecting Botox-like results. Only botox can do that. But if you’re looking to really hone in your skincare routine to suit your skin’s unique (and, let’s face it, sometimes shifting) mood, give peptides a fair shake. Peptides are more prominent than ever in skincare circles and it’s worth making the rounds to see which blends get you the best results (and results you will see). Ready to put a little peptide in your skincare step? ;)