Peptides in skincare: what do they do?

Peptides in skincare: what do they do?

Peptides are one of the most talked-about ingredients in the field of anti-ageing skincare. When applied to your skin, they demonstrate remarkable benefits: revitalising and making it stronger and more resilient.

But peptides do not possess magical properties, as some brands claim. In fact, there is no single ingredient that will address all signs of skin ageing. Peptides are a great asset to your skincare regime, but it’s best to be realistic in your expectations of them. They have amazing benefits for skin but the results will never be the same as a cosmetic procedure.

What are peptides?

Peptides are short chains of amino acids that act as building blocks of proteins such as collagen, elastin and keratin. These proteins are the foundations of your skin and are responsible for its texture, strength and resilience. Without peptides, skin is less intact, which can lead to a loss of firmness, the appearance of wrinkles, a change in texture and less ‘bounce’.

When applied topically, peptides act as little messengers, triggering skin cells to perform specific functions such as building collagen and elastin, encouraging skin to look and act younger. Extensive scientific research has proven that peptides can support your skin on multiple levels, including: firming, soothing and hydrating.

Peptides in skincare

While it’s clear that peptides are special, they are not enough to transform your skin as an isolated ingredient. At Paula’s Choice, we take a multi-ingredient ‘cocktail’ approach to skincare. This means the skincare products you invest in should also contain other effective ingredients, such as antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients.

If your goal is smoother, softer, more hydrated, firmer and younger-looking skin, you will need to use more than just peptides. For example, our Peptide Booster is a blend of 8 unique peptides, supported by amino acids and other skin-replenishing ingredients.

Which is better: peptides or hyaluronic acid?

Both hyaluronic acid and peptides perform a similar role of absorbing and retaining moisture and neither can be considered ‘better’. However, there are a few key differences between the benefits offered by these two ingredients, which means it’s good to combine them for smoother skin.

Our Hyaluronic Acid + Peptide Lip Booster uses specialised peptides that work with key plant extracts to target loss of firmness and volume on lips, as well as hyaluronic acid to help smooth lines. It’s a great example of peptides delivering highly targeted results alongside a tried-and-true hydrator.

Our anti-ageing peptide staple, the Pro-Collagen Multi-Peptide Booster offers skin a highly targeted blend of six signaling pro-collagen peptides that work alongside humectants to rebuild, strengthen and firm, leaving skin youthful and nourished.

We also took this approach with our  C5 Super Boost Eye Cream, pairing sh-polypeptide-121 and hexapeptide-8 with vitamin C for ultimate strengthening, firming, and brightening of the undereye area.

Benefits of peptides for skin

Peptides in skincare products can offer a multitude of benefits including:

  • Improved skin barrier
  • Helps to fade fine lines and wrinkles
  • More elastic skin
  • Helps to reduce skin redness, irritation and inflammation
  • Fewer breakouts

Feel free to ignore anything you hear about one ‘special peptide’ or ‘best peptide mix’, because this simply does not exist. There are many remarkable peptides, and more and more are being discovered (or made in a laboratory). If you combine peptides with antioxidants, moisturising and skin-repairing ingredients, you can expect to see fantastic results against multiple signs of skin ageing

What peptides are used in skincare?

Copper peptide is one of the most raved-about skincare ingredients. The hype began because the building blocks of your skin are formed by copper, so it’s based on an assumption that you need copper peptide in your skincare products to repair your skin. While it’s true that copper peptide is a skin-restoring ingredient, there are many other peptides with the same if not more impressive properties.

The benefits of copper peptide are proven, but in studies it is rarely compared with other peptides or other key ingredients, such as powerful antioxidants. And with so many ingredients proven to benefit skin, it’s important not to focus on a single one. Interestingly, there is also research which shows that copper is potentially toxic. However, the research focuses mainly on the application of pure copper to the skin, and not as a peptide.

Conclusion about peptides for skin

Peptides are an essential ingredient in the fight against ageing and should be part of your everyday skincare arsenal, as the need for cells to behave as healthy young cells requires daily attention. But remember to use skincare products with a cocktail of beneficial ingredients, as well as daily sun protection, and not just one. This is the best thing you can do for the health and appearance of your skin.

Used sources:


  • Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, April 2016, supplement, pages 63-71
  • Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, May 2016, edition 1, pages 175-178
  • ChemMedChem, August 2016, edition 16, pages 1850-1855
  • Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, April 2013, pages 1-8
  • Biological Trace Element Research, August 2013, edition 2, pages 268-274
  • Dermato Endocrinology, July 2012, edition 3, pages 308-319



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