Peptides are not a new concept in skincare; they have been around for a few decades, but they are starting to trend as anti-aging miracle workers. A peptide is merely a building block made from short chains of amino acids (anything containing less than 50 amino acid bonds is considered a peptide). Proteins make up anatomical tissue structures, including the integumentary system, where our skin protects us from the outside world.
In this story, we will go into detail about three popular types of peptides used in skincare and anti-aging formulation, which include the old and trusted Matrixyl (plus its newer generation adaptations), Copper Peptides, and the topical Botox alternative, or "Faux-tox", Argireline.
The concept of peptides is a bit difficult to explain as they occur in any chemical process involving amino acids. In our skin, peptides can occur when collagen protein breaks down due to injury or general cell metabolism. In oversimplified terms, their function can have the effect of signalling damage, but as some are active, some do nothing and just need to be removed. The peptides used in skincare, take advantage of the signalling properties.
Note: Thanks to Dr. Michelle Wong (PhD) of Lab Muffin for citing this for me!
The skin is composed of three layers
* Epidermis – the top layer which produces the skin cells you see at the surface and houses melanin production (which gives the skin colour and sun protection)
* Dermis – the middle layer that houses nerve endings, blood vessels and the collagen matrix (the actual structure of the skin)
* Subcutaneous layer (Hypodermis) – where adipose tissues are found (fat cell storage)
|Skin anatomy diagram.|
Image Source: https://www.wpclipart.com/medical/anatomy/skin/skin_diagram.png.html
Collagen is the key protein that makes up ALL of the connective tissues of your body, including muscles, arteries and veins, and major organs. Collagen is usually synonymous with skin, but it is found in all parts of our anatomy in different forms. The other protein found in skin is keratin (which makes up hair and nails too). The skin cells you see on the surface are dead and filled with keratin protein to add to the functional abilities of the skin; the barrier.
Peptides in skincare behave as markers for your own body to do repair work, or even to mimic electrochemical signals in the nervous system.
|The Ordinary Matrixyl 10% + HA product packaging.|
Image Source: Deciem
This is one of the original skincare peptides brought onto the market starting in 2000. It was developed and trademarked by French chemical manufacturer, Sederma. Plain old Matrixyl has expanded into newer generation substances for improved performance and stability. There is so much conflicting information on the exact molecules used, but it's safe to say that most products use the flavour "Matrixyl 3000" [Palmitoyl-Tripeptide and Palmitoyl-Oligopeptide, depending on who you ask].
The main skin condition that can be treated with this peptide is sun damage (dermal thickening). Matrixyl works at the dermal and epidermal junction, where the two layers meet. Skin cells are always being created and destroyed, but as we get older and succumb to natural decay (and elemental exposure), the renewal function slows down, thus forming divots and weakened structures, aka wrinkles. Matrixyl behaves akin to restoration specialist contractors who are brought in to repair the aesthetic components of a structurally damaged building, and works in the long-term.
Note: I have not used or monitored Matrixyl's effects on the skin.
The Ordinary Matrixyl 10% + HA 30mL – $19.90AUD – Deciem and selected MYER stores in Australia [pictured]
Indeed Laboratories Snoxin 30mL – $39.99AUD – Priceline
Indeed Laboratories Eysilix Instant Eye Rescue 15mL – $34.99AUD – Priceline
Dr. Lewinn's Ultra R4 Lift Serum 30mL – $74.95AUD – Dr. Lewinn's
|NIOD CAIS 1.00% Serum + Activator.|
Image Source: Deciem
This is a rather interesting molecule due to the fact it has a transition metal attached to an organic amino acid molecule. It naturally occurs in our bodies and can actually be isolated from our blood plasma. It was discovered in the 1970s and later found to be released from damaged tissues. There isn't much information floating about, and its use in anti-aging skincare is relatively new.
"The concentration of this peptide in human plasma
decreases with age and by the age of 60 an average
loss of 60% will have occurred. Copper Tripeptide
GHK-Cu is responsible for activation of a wide
range of skin health functions, including wound
healing, immune function, collagen synthesis, blood
vessel development, ﬁbroblast production and anti-
inﬂammatory responses." - NOID, Deciem
Also known as Copper Peptide GHK-Cu, there is suggestion for GHK-Cu to be used as an alternative to corticosteroids for inflammatory skin conditions, along with studies into its effect on stem cells and the nervous system, particularly in the field of neurodegenerative conditions caused by oxidative stress (inability for the body to fight free radical damage).
Note: I have not used or monitored Copper Tripeptide-1's effects on the skin.
NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1.00% 15mL/30mL – $90.00AUD/$135.00AUD – Deciem and selected MYER stores in Australia [pictured]
NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 5.00% 15mL – $290.00AUD – Deciem and selected MYER stores in Australia
|FutureDerm by Jozelle Argireline Skin Enhancing Serum.|
Image Source: John Wurzel & Co
Acetyl Hexapeptide-3 (or Acetyl Hexapeptide-8) is a neuropeptide (it works on the nervous system) that has been claimed to mimic the effects of botox. Synthesized by a Barcelona based cosmetic actives laboratory Lipotec, Argireline has hit the market in many products that target "wrinkle freezing".
The molecule affects nerve endings in muscles by mimicking the effects of Botulinum Toxin (Botox), it prevents the muscle from contracting. Having said that, it does not paralyze the muscle like Botox; the peptide merely keeps it from contracting, allowing the skin to relax over the top. The safety of topical application of Argireline has yet to be studied independently.
This is probably one of the most talked about peptides on the market, and I am able to provide a much more comprehensive list of products that contain the ingredient because of its availability. The trending nature of Argireline has promised results, but I am uncertain whether I was able to achieve any, given the fact that I don't have wrinkles. I am looking at Botox injections to treat moderate pain caused muscle spasticity in my neck and face, and this has me wondering whether Argireline could ever have medical applications.
FutureDerm by Jozelle Argireline Skin Enhancing Serum 10mL – $20.00AUD – John Wurzel & Co online store, and Oakleigh South & Caulfield South showrooms, Melbourne, Victoria [pictured]
Note: Jozelle is a private label line of cosmetics owned by John Wurzel & Co. This family business has been supplying professional beauty, hairdressing and cosmetic products in Melbourne for nearly 40 years. Just a little free plug for our dear friends, John & Lily! Hello, if you're reading this! And yes, I bought this product!
My Perfect Day Cream 15mL – $49.95AUD – The Perfect Cosmetics
Skin Physics ADVANCED SUPERLIFT Face 50mL – $69.99AUD – Priceline
FreezeFrame Protox 20mL – $69.00AUD - Priceline
The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10% – $13.90 – Deciem (not yet available in Australia)
Skin Doctors Relaxaderm 50mL – $49.99 – Priceline
Antipodes Manuka Honey Skin-Brightening Light Day Cream 60mL – $65.00AUD – Antipodes + [RIVETREVIEW]
NeoStrata Skin Active Matrix Repair SPF 15 Day Cream 50g – $69.95AUD - NeoStrata
Have you used any products containing any of these peptides? Please let me know!
Note: This article is presented as a knowledge piece. Some of the products mentioned may have been supplied as PR samples or purchased. There is no obligation to you, the reader, to purchase any products. Prices stated are correct at time of publishing. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.