A popular skincare ingredient, peptides are short chains of amino acids that can be found naturally in foods and your body, or made artificially. These are used as building blocks for hormones and DNA, and also help to build muscle tissue in athletes.
They work as messenger molecules when applied topically, encouraging cells to produce more collagen and elastin, which helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles. They can also help boost the skin barrier, fight acne, even out skin tone and reduce redness and discolouration.
Peptides are often combined with other effective ingredients, like retinol and antioxidants, to create change-making formulas that target multiple skin issues at once. They are also less likely to irritate the skin than some other powerful actives, but Dr Sommerlad warns that it’s important to check what else they’re combined with, particularly ingredients that are prone to irritation (like hydroxy acid exfoliants or alcohol) as this can have an impact on how well the product works for you.
There are four different categories of peptides – carrier, signal, enzyme inhibitor and neurotransmitter – which all have their own effects on the skin and can be found in products to address a range of concerns. As a rule of thumb, look for products that contain signal and carrier peptides (carnosine and n-acetyl carnosine are good examples), as these have the most research behind them. She adds that there isn’t much evidence yet to support the effectiveness of neurotransmitter and enzyme inhibitor peptides, but suggests scanning the ingredient list for hexapeptides, palmitoyl tripeptides and amino acid complexes as these are likely to be the most beneficial to the complexion.
Despite their relatively new arrival to the beauty scene, many skincare brands already have peptide-based products in their arsenals. We’ve rounded up our favourites, from Hailey Bieber’s buzzy Rhode brand to a serum with niacinamide and a supercharged peptide blend by Paula’s Choice that targets the skin barrier, minimises signs of ageing, boosts moisture, calms redness and promotes a brighter complexion.
You can find best peptides uk online or at local pharmacies and drugstores. Look for a serum with peptides, rather than a cream, as it’s more potent and will penetrate the skin more effectively. You can also use them around the eyes to combat fine lines and dark circles.
As well as being formulated with peptides, this serum contains niacinamide and botanical extracts to reduce redness and brighten the complexion. It’s gentle enough for the delicate eye area and can be used day or night.
With a blend of eight different peptides, this potent formula from Paula’s Choice is ideal for those who want to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin texture and brighten the complexion. It’s also packed with hyaluronic acid, which is known to plump the skin and boost moisture.