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In recent years, we have learned that a reliable way to pep up our anti-aging regimen is to include peptides. Peptides, or mini proteins if you want to think of them that way, are active molecules that send signals to your cells. When collagen breaks down, it forms specific peptides that signal to your skin that it was damaged and needs to make new collagen.
About 18 months ago, I did a round up of commonly used peptides in cosmetics and have come to realize that there are some very interesting new ones emerging. Some are not so new, but have only recently been taken up with enthusiasm by formulators. And, wow, have we come a long way since Argireline was the game in town. We are a lucky generation—skin care innovation just gets better and better.
Here is a selection of some exciting peptides and the products that introduced me to them.
There isn’t much research published on acetyl tetrapeptide-2, but I did read that it compensates for some hormone loss, such as the hormone thymopoietin, which slows down cell renewal and curbs the skin’s natural immune functions. Francine Porter, the founder of Osmotics, swears by it for counteracting the force of gravity and so, naturally, she incorporated it in her Osmotics Blue Copper 5 Prime ($138).
According to Lipotec, which is the company that makes Uplevity, it induces the expression of fibulin 5 and lysyl oxidase-like 1. The latter is a gene that catalyses the first step in the formation of crosslinks in collagens and elastin. Fibrulin 5 is an extracellular matrix protein. Tetrapeptide-2 regulates the gene expression of talin, zyxin and integrins, which contribute to the improvement of “dermal cohesion.” Or, in other words, it firms and lifts the eyelid skin.
Your Best Face tends to be there with the latest and greatest so you might not be surprised to see it in the latest iteration of their eye cream Your Best Face Correct ($150 in the shop).
This peptide activates an epidermal growth factor (TGF-beta) that stimulates collagen in the skin. I have seen claims that in-vitro tests showed that tripeptide-5 has better collagen-building capacity than topically applied TGF-beta—by 119%. Find it in I Pekar Moisturizer ($78 in the shop).
This a subset of Tripeptide 5 and essentially works in the same way. Find it in BRAD Biophotonic Sublime Youth Creator Radiance Concentrate ($125 in the shop), an interesting and effective product that also has a proprietary retinol complex.
This goes by the name of Rubixyl, which claims to restructure and calm aging skin. It seems to function as an anti-inflammatory, changing the gene expression of inflamed cells back to their normal state (there is a study that seems to back this up).
So far, I’ve only come across this in LiftLab Lift+Perfect ($250 in the shop).
This copper peptide is in a special delivery capsule that has an affinity with the FGF fibroblast. Once released, it can target the matrix proteins (elastin, proteoglycans, laminin, fibronectin and collagens). It is marketed by the name of X50.
I first came across this in LiftLab Lift+Perfect, an excellent serum with many other good things. If your wallet is up to it, you can find it in 3Lab’s $875 Super Cream.
A peptide that’s a growth factor! A few years ago, this was rare and didn’t seem to work that well. But somewhere along the line, someone got it right. sH-oligopeptide 1 is beginning to show up in impressive and potent serums. It is produced by fermentation in E. coli. The starting gene is synthesized to be identical to the human gene that codes for Epidermal Growth Factor. EGF’s bind to cell receptors and activate them to do things, such as repair a wrinkle.
It is the star ingredient in Stemulation’s impressive and aptly named, Hi-Impact ($185 in the shop). It is also (in a non-synthetic form) in Skin Nutrition’s Cell CPR ($150 in the shop), along with other peptides.
The newest in the Matrixyl family of collagen-boosting peptides is palmitoyl tripeptide-38. As the name implies, Matrixyl Synthe’6 stimulates six major constituents of the skin matrix and the dermal-epidermal junction, including collagen and hyaluronic acid.
Still a new kid on the block (and expensive as a raw ingredient), Matrixyl Synthe’6 is slowly appearing in serums. You can find it in Lumavera Anti-Aging Serum ($120) and it is one of the additions to the new formula in Your Best Face Correct.
I am always on the lookout for actives that promote elastin in the skin. This is the highly elastic protein in connective tissue and allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. The elastase enzyme attacks structural proteins, eg elastin, and so ingredients that inhibit it are a good thing. A peptide called Trifluoroacetyl tripeptide-2, also known as TT2, does just that and, as a result, reduces sagging and slacking.
You can find it in the eye-opening E'shee Clinical Esthetic Alpha and Omega Gene Therapy Eye Cream ($284 in the shop).
This is tetrapeptide-17 and it promised to lead to increased elasticity, decreased wrinkles and fine lines and a reduction of skin roughness. The sequence of peptides is supposed to mimic the skin. Other than a study conducted by the manufacturer that showed an improvement in skin elasticity, there isn’t much information available on Tego Pep 4-17.
It was recently adopted by Your Best Face and is featured in Prep Microdermabrasion ($80 in the shop) and the most recent formulation of Your Best Face Correct.