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What is Peptide?

2014/10/9      view:

These days, along with antioxidants, peptides have become a byword for antiaging skincare products. Matrixyl is probably the best known, but here seem to be new ones popping up all the time. So what are peptides, how do they work and why are we paying so much for them in our skin creams?

Peptides have the same chemical structure as proteins, but are shorter in length. They are made up of amino acids. In cosmetic ingredients lists you might have seen tripeptides, for example, or dipeptide. These different names refer to the number of amino acids. A dipeptide has two amino acids, tripeptide has three amino acids and a tetrapeptide has four amino acids. And so on. 

Peptides, or mini proteins if you want to think of them that way, are active molecules that send signals to your cells. When collagen breaks down, it forms specific peptides that signal to your skin that it was damaged and needs to make new collagen. So by applying peptides topically, we are trying to trick our skin into thinking that it has lost collagen recently and needs to make more.

There are lots of different synthetic peptides available in antiaging skincare and they have many roles. Some of them appear in ingredients lists by a trade name such as Matrixyl or Argireline, and these might be a combination of more than one peptide.

Only very small amounts of are needed. They possess, if correctly chosen and formulated, very high biological potency. That means, cosmetic effects can be obtained with very low quantities (only a few ppm compared to a retinol, which is used at 600-700 ppm level).