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What peptides are and why they matter

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Peptides are among the most powerful and interesting skin care ingredients being used in successful anti wrinkle products. But what are peptides? What do peptides do that other skin care ingredients don't do?

The purpose of this article is to give a general overview of the peptides being used in today's cosmetic and skin care formulations. Other pages on this site discuss the different types of peptides individually and in depth.

What are peptides?

Peptides are short chains of amino acids. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins and many other different types of organic molecules. Peptides are frequently created by the digestion of proteins in the body, and many types of peptides are readily and rapidly absorbed by the bloodstream. For this reason, peptides are particularly effective as skin care ingredients.

Many peptides work as hormones, neurotransmitters and as natural pain relievers.

What do peptides do?

Different peptides have different effects. Peptides are a widely variable group of molecules, so speaking generally about the function of peptides is meaningless. Instead we will briefly discuss the function of four powerful peptides used in skin care products: acetyl hexapeptide-3, palmitoyl pentapeptide-3, palmitoyl oligopeptide and copper peptides.

Acetyl Hexapeptide-3

This member of the peptides works to relax certain types of facial wrinkles. Acetyl hexapeptide-3, topically applied, treats the same type of wrinkles as botulinum toxin injections. In addition, peptides can be used anywhere on the face, whereas injections are limited to a very small area of the face.

Learn more about acetyl hexapeptide-3, or Argireline, the first of the quartet of peptides.

Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-3

The second of the powerful peptides, palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 works by stimulating the deeper, matrix layers of the skin. This peptide increases overall collagen production, the production of collagen IV and hyaluronic acid synthesis in the skin. Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 also helps the skin to heal wounds faster.

Learn more about palmitoyl pentapeptide-3, also known as Matrixyl, the second of the four leading peptides.

Palmitoyl oligopeptide

Similar to palmitoyl pentapeptide-3, this member of the peptides stimulates the synthesis of collagen and hyaluronic acid in the deep layers of the skin. In addition, palmitoyl oligopeptide has a mild UV protection effect, thus helping to protect the skin from damage. (NOTE: it is still recommended that you use a sun block with an actual SPF every day.)

Look for palmitoyl oligopeptide, along with the two other peptides described above, on the ingredients list of your anti aging skin care product.

Copper peptides

Copper peptides are a small family of peptides that include a copper molecule in their structure. Copper peptides have been studied due to their ability to encourage the skin to heal wounds. Indeed, copper peptides certainly have a salutary effect on various tissue types: the stomach lining, bones, and intestines as well as skin.

Most dermatologists do not encourage the use of copper peptides as an anti-wrinkle ingredient. Copper peptides seem to work far better in encouraging wound healing. Copper peptides were a popular component of a previous generation of skin care products, but have now been eclipsed by the trio of peptides discussed above.

Learn more about copper peptides.

Many anti wrinkle and anti aging skin care products make use of the powerful peptides. See our top recommended anti wrinkle skin care products.

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