IN THIS ARTICLE:
Peptide Skincare Products
There are tons of nifty skincare buzzwords that circulate within the beauty community. You’ve quite likely landed here because you’ve recently caught wind of the term peptide skincare and you just couldn’t resist knowing what all of the fuss is about. Which is why today on Mind Over Mango we will be closely examining what peptides are and why you should include them in your skincare routine. If you’re seeking the best cruelty-free peptide products to incorporate into your skincare routine, we’ve got you covered there too.
What are Peptides?
According to Alexis Parcells, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon and skincare specialist of Parcells Plastic Surgery in New Jersey, “Peptides are amino acids, and when bound together they make up proteins. These building blocks of collagen and elastin fibers keep our skin hydrated, healthy, and youthful.”
Essentially, peptides are a chain of 2 or more amino acids. Peptide chains can run anywhere from 2 to 50 amino acids. Any chain with more than 50 amino acids is then referred to as a protein. As we know, proteins are an essential part of life because they give us strength and resilience. Think of peptides as the same thing in your skincare, but on a miniature level. Peptides are simply a smaller version of proteins.
Types of Peptides
There are four main types of peptides that you will find in your peptide skincare products. Each type of peptide serves a certain purpose when it comes to providing your skin with the care it needs:
Carrier peptides: These peptides work to deliver trace minerals (such as copper) to the skin in order to boost collagen production. 
Enzyme inhibitor peptides: These peptides help to slow down the natural progression of collagen and elastin breakdown that occurs over time in our skin. 
Signal peptides: These peptides send signals to different parts of the skin to encourage collagen and elastin production. The main difference between signal peptides and carrier peptides is that signal peptides are designed to create a biological response, whereas carrier peptides simply carry unique ingredients and deliver them to the skin. 
Neurotransmitter peptides: These peptides help prevent or reverse dynamic lines, more often known as expression lines. These wrinkles develop as a result of repeated muscle movements in various parts of the face from smiling, frowning, squinting, or blinking. 
Benefits of Peptides for Skin
There are many different ways that peptides can benefit your skin:
- Reduces fine lines & wrinkles: One cause of your fine lines and wrinkles is a lack of collagen in your skin. Many peptides boost collagen production by stimulating fibroblasts, which are biological cells that synthesize collagen. Peptides can also reduce the level of collagenase, the enzyme responsible for collagen breakdown. 
- Hydrates the skin: As collagen production wanes, so does the level of hydration our skin retains. Peptides are known to provide moisture to hydrate the skin.
- Repairs hyperpigmentation from sun damage: Enzyme inhibitor peptides help to even out hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage. Melanin production, aka the hyperpigmentation you see on your skin after short or long-term sun damage, forms as your skin’s response to ultraviolet damage. Peptides can block the melanin-causing hormone, thus repairing and evening out hyperpigmentation in the skin. 
- Helps make skin more firm: Like collagen, our skin naturally contains elastin. Elastin is what gives our skin elasticity, meaning our skin has more firmness and “bounce”.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: Many peptides contain anti-oxidants that will help to soothe and calm inflamed, irritated skin.
Not All Peptides Are Created Equal
Not all peptides are created equal. While the above list can be deemed as a general guide as to what you can expect peptides to do, some peptides will be more useful than others in regards to targeting certain skin concerns. For example, peptides for skin are most often associated with various anti-aging claims. While many peptides have some level of anti-aging properties, not all peptides equally reverse signs of aging.
“Peptides are comprised of up to 50 amino acids, and they can be interchanged for a specific use. As the chemical structure of the peptide changes, so does its function,” says Parcells. Since peptides vary in function, it’s important to decide what peptides are best for you.
What Peptides Are Best For You?
Knowing the Difference
There are many goals we all seek when it comes to our skincare routine. “Peptides can be expensive and their clinical anti-aging efficacy is still being researched,” says Parcells. “So it’s important to understand what will work for your skin before purchasing a product with peptides.”
For some of us, stabilizing our collagen production is essential. Collagen is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies that gives our skin strength. As we age, our collagen production decreases, which means our skin becomes weaker. This results in sagging and wrinkled skin. Certain peptides encourage collagen production more than others. For example, “Copper peptides are known to generate and maintain your body’s supply of collagen,” says Parcells. Therefore, products containing copper peptides are a great option because they are one of the most potent anti-aging peptides.
Other Types of Peptides
However, if aging skin is not your primary concern, there are peptides that may provide you with the skincare benefits you are seeking. Parcells explains: “For example, tetrapeptides are composed of 4 amino acids and are known for boosting elasticity, while hexapeptides containing 6 amino acids focus on brightening skin.” If you’ve noticed dullness or a loss of firmness in your skin, seek skincare products that contain these types of peptides in the ingredients list.
Pairing Peptides With Other Ingredients
Peptides aren’t the only ingredient you should be focusing on in your skincare routine. Your routine will need to have a variety of other active ingredients in order to fulfill all of your needs. Alexis Parcells agrees, “Peptides work well alongside vitamin C and niacinamide. Additionally, they can be safely combined with antioxidants and hyaluronic acids.” On that note, there is one active ingredient that you’ll want to avoid pairing with peptides, “AHA will reduce the efficiency of peptides,” says Parcells.
Drawbacks & Limitations
As with pretty much anything in life, peptides too have drawbacks and limitations. Just as Dr. Alexis Parcells states, their efficacy is still being researched. Furthermore, peptides are only really effective if they sit on your skin long enough to penetrate your epidermis, aka the uppermost layer of skin. “The delivery mechanism is important. Aim to apply a peptide as a serum or moisturizer (as opposed to a cleanser where it can easily wash off)” she says. Additionally, remembering what ingredients to avoid pairing it with will help you get the most out of your peptide skincare products.
Best Cruelty-Free Peptide Skincare Products
If you’re seeking the best cruelty-free peptide skincare products worth adding to your routine, be sure to check out this comprehensive guide. In this guide, you’ll discover some of my favorite peptide products I swear by in my skincare collection. Regardless of what peptide products will work best for your skin type, peptides should be a vital part of your skincare routine. Your present and future skin will certainly thank you for it.
*Note: all products featured below are independently selected by Mind Over Mango.
BEST FOR: UNDER-EYE WRINKLES
Firming Eye Cream
One of the best parts of being a Beauty Editor is the ability to always try new products. I recently was privileged enough to try the Eyecare Duo by OSEA. The Firming Eye Cream contains rich plant-derived peptides that firm and lift. The Eye Gel Serum contains Hyaluronic Acid and Bioactive Seaweed, two ingredients that help awaken tired-looking eyes. The combination of these two products has helped reverse early signs of aging for me.
DeliKate™ Recovery Serum
If the past year of intense skincare exploration has taught me anything, it’s that my skin is more sensitive than I thought. The DeliKate™ Recovery Serum by Kate Somerville provides me the plumping peptides I need while targeting my redness and sensitive skin all at once. It’s also ultra-hydrating and super lightweight. My skin feels balanced and calm after using it.
Repair Nightly Treatment
My love for True Botanicals is neverending. This time it’s their Repair Nightly Treatment, formally known as the Renew Repair Serum. This nighttime face serum is packed with proprietary bioactive peptides that work to target visible signs of aging. Tripeptides along with ceramides help to stimulate collagen production and slow down the process of skin aging.
Retinol Eye Stick
The Retinol Eye Stick by Peace Out is one of the more unique cruelty-free peptide products in my kit. This unique balm formula contains peptides & retinol that stimulate collagen production. It also works beautifully under concealer to prevent that dreaded fine line creasing throughout the day. Plus, it’s super easy to toss in my purse even on my no makeup days for a quick pick-me-up.