Peptides for Skin Health

What is this “Peptide” business?

I often get asked this question in the treatment room, as well as from my friends; they suddenly are hearing that they need to be using "Peptides." 

But what are they exactly? How do they work and what are they for?

Well, this month for our Table Talk series, we are going take a look at what the benefits of peptide for skin health is all about. 

This is by no means the full extent of information out there, but we have highlighted a few things that will certainly help you understand the basics. By the end of our "Talk" you'll be able to select what works for you, and of course, if you have any questions just sent us a email!

So let's start at the beginning, what is a Peptide?

When 2 or more amino acids are linked together to form a small molecule, it is known as a Peptide.

Peptides work as chemical messengers, triggering particular functions within the cells for a specific action.  The sequence of how amino acids are linked within their chain to form a peptide, has direct impact on how that chemical messenger will behave.

Different Categories:

The general 3 categories of Peptides in Skin Care are:

Bio-Chemical Peptides: Are short sequences of amino acids derived from an enzymatic processing of proteins that naturally arise throughout the body.

Naturally Occuring Peptides: are from the our extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and antimicrobial peptides (AMP) precursor proteins.

Our Extracellular Matrix (ECM) is responsible for the protection of our cells, and contribute to the strength and elasticity of our skin. The ECM is composed of a variety of polysaccharides, water and collagen proteins. It is responsible for wound healing of the skin, creating pathways for cell regeneration to occur when injury take place. A healthy ECM means healthy Skin.  You can read more in depth about the ECM here (Read More, here.)

Synthetic Peptides:  typically lab derived and delivered topically via skin related products or Rx medication, facilitate the body in triggering these reparative signals within the body to activate. In turn, helping to generate new growth of wound healing, collagen or elastin building activities on a cellular level.

Applied benefits:

As we mature, into the fine wines we will become undoubtedly, there is a breakdown in the stored collagen and elastin that our body only has a set amount of. At the age of 30, we start to lose a small percentage of this stored wonder each year. We need a jump start in our skin to encourage more production of this precious cargo, which can allow us to look 20 years younger when we’re 70!

Some rock star peptides already in use in skin care to know:

-          Copper Peptides:

Around since the 1970s this baby is tried and true. Copper peptides, deliver wound healing properties to the skin that allow for healthy regeneration of skin cells. They are proven to increase the elasticity and firmness in skin.

-          Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3

Trademarked at Matrixyl is a pentapeptide that contains and essential fatty acid for healthly lipid barrier and 5 amino acids that prompt the skin to induce production of hyaluronic acid and collagen. Hyaluronic acid is a primary ingredient which is naturally generated in the body to contribute to our hydration content, and keeps or skin looking healthy and fresh like it did in our 20s.

-          Acetyl hexapeptide-3

Known to smooth out certain facial expressions and fine lines this Hexapeptide is a great ingredient alternative to synthetic fillers or cosmetic surgery.

In the same way these peptides can encourage stimulus within the body to create more collagen and elastin, it can also serve to inhibit certain activity. In the case of hyperpigmentation, some peptides can actually inhibit the melanin synthesis (cellular creation of pigment granules / cells) to reduce hyper pigmentation within the skin.


-       Oligopeptide – 34

Oligopeptide-34 consists of 13 amino acid that specifically targets melanin formation.

Oligopeptide-34 decreases melanin synthesis and tyrosinase activity in the melanocytes within our skin cells. These activities on their own, are the natural activity of the body to produce pigment or melanin color, after either sun exposure or injury to the skin surface. Studies showed the peptide to be more effective than Vitamin C and Arbutin, common know pigmentation brighteners.

Read more (here.)


For Sentized, inflamed skin:

-          Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7

Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, consists of a chain of four amino acids coupled with palmitic acid, a fatty acid which allows for the peptides to penetrate the skin. Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 is suggested to not only reduce the production of inflammation-producing substances but to also stimulate skin regeneration.

Still developing:

-          Tiger 17

Developing research in using peptides for wound healing in the skin. In clinical studies this peptide made from 11 amino acids is showing promise for being able to stimulate the healing synthesis of the skin.

Who is it Good For:

If any of the above scenarios apply to you, and peptide enhanced skin care can be a great way to boost your skin regimen.

For those of us looking to get a jump start or even focus on alternative ways to approach skin-aging, peptides serves as a gradual track without cosmetic fillers like Botox.


Interested in learning more? 

These sources were helpful in my development of this talk, and are great sources for additional information.

Peptides and Skin Health: article out of Oregon State University

Peptides – Anti-agingLivestrong What are the Top Anti-Aging Peptides? By Gwen Bruno

The role of antimicrobial peptides in chronic inflammatory skin diseases

A Small Peptide with Potential Ability to Promote Wound Healing