Peptides…

by mathew bose. 0 Comments

I read words on ingredient lists of a product sometimes and although I take in the name I actually have no idea what it is. Some words are familiar and I suppose subconsciously I think I know what it is…?! Well, ‘peptides’ is one such word. So it’s high time for an education…

Peptides are a key weapon in the latest fight against skin ageing and especially the war on wrinkles. A peptide is essentially a short compound made up of amino acids that have bonded (ahh). Longer versions are called proteins…that’s so much clearer isn’t it? I’m thinking that we don’t really need to know about polymers, covalent bonds, carboxl groups and all the stuff that gets the dander of a molecular biologist well and truly up…do we?!?

However, we do need to know that the peptide flag wavers say that these mini amino acid chains are the exact thing that the skin needs to help it generate collagen and repair skin damage. Collagen is the element of the skin that keeps it taught and smooth, giving it support and thickness too. Our collagen depletes and is destroyed with time and does not get replaced as quickly, if at all, but the skin never loses its ability to create it. As the much longer and complex protein chains of collagen break down the short segments that are breaking off are peptides. These peptides in turn tell the skin that it needs to generate more collagen. With me so far? So…the theory is that applying these peptides to the skin topically tricks your skin, by their increased presence, into thinking that it needs to make some collagen, lots more, and so you can, also in theory, minimise your wrinkles and smooth out fine lines.

Peptides are minute so they can penetrate the skin (actually this is also not really true – it’s the medium they are suspended in that creates the ability to go into the skin. This is alarmingly called a ‘penetration enhancer…’ – I say…) but this means that the medium that they are transported to your skin in is the vital bit (see post ‘Part 2 – some contested ingredients…). They are fragile so need to be treated with a stabilising version of kid gloves and thicker creams may well just sit on the skin and prevent the peptides accessing the skin properly and so just get washed away without any advantage. Think on…

The most common peptide used seems to be Matrixyl – a peptide created and bonded to a fatty acid to help absorption. Other peptides include copper peptides as copper is known to heal skin and is an antioxidant. The peptide carries the copper into the skin to help it heal and regenerate.

There are neuropeptides too which are believed to block the transmission of the nerves to the facial muscles. A sort of peptide Botox. Hmmm, I’m not sure about the logic of this I have to say. It would have to travel right through the skin layers to the muscle below to do this and is that really likely?! Something topical that does this would have to be legally classed as a medicine too, so it’s highly unlikely…frankly. I shall await a definitive, scientific report on this…

So while the peptide war wages on, and the companies that make and sell the products rave about them, there are also a huge amount of people claiming that they do nothing of the sort. It was ever thus. You must decide for yourself as per…but it’s a toughie isn’t it? I mean, if I don’t use it and it does work then I’ll be leaving it too late to start!! If I use it and it’s a load of old knackers then I’ve flushed a heap of cash down the Swanee. Sigh…

Meanwhile, everyone seems to agree that sunscreen and products with antioxidants in – specifically vitamin C – are useful topically and living a healthy lifestyle (and specifically not smoking) are great internally…so lets start with that…!

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