From K-beauty staples to drugstore skincare products, peptides are popping up all over the place. But do they live up to all the hype and actually improve skin?
A peptide is a string of amino acids—the building blocks of proteins. The body makes its own peptides, but some are also created in the lab to mimic those found naturally. Some peptides have been used as medications for conditions like diabetes and multiple sclerosis. And others are gaining popularity as anti-aging supplements, as they’re thought to stimulate collagen production and inhibit nerve signals that cause wrinkles.
Because peptides can be produced in large quantities more easily than proteins, they’re often viewed as the future of drugs. They’re also more selective, potent and potentially safer, as they only target specific tissues. They can boost muscle growth, treat erectile dysfunction, promote fat loss and nutrient absorption, and more.
Peptides are made up of a group of three to 20 amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. The most well-known peptides are the insulin and IGF-1 family, which act as hormones in the body by stimulating cell growth, reducing inflammation, regulating glucose uptake, and more.
For the best results, look for skincare and nutritional products containing peptides that target your specific concerns. For example, peptides can be combined with vitamin C and other antioxidants to improve elasticity, or they can be added to serums that contain hyaluronic acid to help soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s best to talk to a licensed healthcare professional about what peptide is right for you before trying it.