Primer on Peptides in Anti-Aging Skin Care

Sleep on your side or face down regularly and you get wrinkles. Smoke and you get wrinkles. Repeat a facial expression and you get wrinkles. Ditto for sun exposure. Gravity too contributes to drooping skin that has lost its elasticity and ability to spring back.

As Web MD says,, those are the causes of extrinsic aging, never mind the intrinsic type from genes you inherit. You may not win the battle, but you definitely should consider peptides in your arsenal of skin care products if you want to keep your skin looking “younger.”

Science of Peptides

It’s all about collagen production and the fact that your skin needs help to replace what you lose. Like collagen, peptides are proteins made up of amino acids, but small enough to penetrate deep. When collagen breaks down, peptides form and alert your skin to make a new supply.

There are different types of peptides and the most common formulas contain palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 or Matrixyl. According to the RN Guide to Skin Care Web site,, clinical studies of Matrixyl showed that “deep wrinkles were reduced by half and some smaller wrinkles and fine lines faded away completely.”

Palmitoyl oligopeptide works similarly and volunteers who used products with 3% of this peptide reported a 23% reduction in the mean depth of wrinkles and a 39% reduction in the main wrinkle.

Some peptides have copper attached to help healing of skin and also act as antioxidants. Neuropeptides or acetyl hexapeptides, particularly argireline, work a little differently by blocking the nerves of your facial muscles, a Botox-like effect. Products with 10% argireline “reduced the depth of wrinkles up to 30%” in a study reported by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science and referenced on the RN Guide site.

Word of Caution

Cosmetic skin care products use synthetic peptides but the skin needs to absorb these proteins, so the thickness of the cream matters. Some contain more than one type of peptide. These products have various names such as micro-sculpting cream, rejuvenating instant serum, clinical eyelift, face lifting serum and night repair cream. Brands include Olay, Avon, Osmotics, Emerge and Lumene.

You don’t have to pay a fortune for anti-aging skin products to work, as long as research offers some verification that the active ingredients live up to the claims. Peptides qualify. So do retinol and alpha hydroxy for instance. Be cautious about “clinically proven” because that does not mean the U.S. Federal Drug Administration has endorsed the effectiveness. If you’re uncertain about what to use on your skin, consult your dermatologist.