Meet the third generation of peptides — and if you happen to come across them in potions and lotions, do let me know.
Peptides are active chains of amino acids that make up proteins. Proteins are involved in nearly every process within cells, regulating all bodily functions. They do this by behaving as dispatcher signaling cells that tell other cells what to do, such as make collagen.
Peptides that exfoliate
Move over retinol - hexanoyl dipeptide-3 norleucine acetate boosts cell exfoliation by competing with desmosomes (the proteins that hold skin cells together). The cells recognize this peptide as desmoglein, but instead of binding cells together, it weakens the cell connections. A bit deceptive of it, but hey, if it works.
Peptides that brighten
Say goodbye to hydroquinone. Oligopeptide-68 is a sophisticated peptide that inhibits the regulator of melanogenic enzymes, tyrosinase, TRP-1 and TRP-2. It is supposed to be better at skin lightening than arbutin and vitamin C. Another to look for is tetrapeptide-38 (TEGO Pep 4-Even), which can eliminate dark spots and alleviate melasma.
Peptides that inhibit expression lines
To form a muscle contraction, acetylcholine (ACh) is needed, and that’s where Argireline stepped in and blocked its release. Now, there’s more and even better in what is called the neuropeptide department.
Acetyl octapeptide-3 is an elongation of Argireline that is supposed to work more effectively at blocking the SNARE complex. Dipeptide diaminobutyrolyl benzylamide diacetate is another neuropeptide and it works by reducing sodium (Na+) uptake to relax the muscle contraction and soften wrinkle formation. There’s even one from the okra plant that can reduce ACh release and, as a bonus, provides antioxidant protection by activating glutathione.
Peptides that firm and smooth
Hexapeptide-11 upregulates five key areas: transmembrane proteins, growth factors, matrix proteins, skin lipid development and cell stress.
Palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3 form a peptide combo, known as Matrixyl 3000, that regulates cell activities involved in the renewal of Collagen I, fibronectin and hyaluronic acid. They are also supposed to reduce redness by eliminating bilirubin.
Palmitoyl tripeptide-5 activates Collagen I production via the growth factor TGF-ß while palmitoyl dipeptide-5 diaminobutyloyl hydro-xythreonline and palmitoyl dipeptide-6 diaminohydroxybutyrate stimulate laminin V, collagen IV, VII, XVII and integrin.
Peptides that hydrate
Acetyl hexapeptide-37 boosts the performance of aquaporin 3 (AQP3), which helps water move through the layers of the epidermis. It helps out with collagen I synthesis as well.
Peptides that reduce glycation and collagen cross-linking
Azeloyl tetrapeptide-23 reduces advanced glycation end (AGEs) and is an antioxidant that prevents damage from radical scavengers.
Peptides that relieve stress
Acetyl tetrapeptide-22 increases heat shock protein (HSP70) levels in the skin, which enhances stress tolerance and prevents damage.
Note: I am a big fan of peptides. I think this ingredient is one of the most important breakthroughs in skin care. When I first became interested in anti-aging, there were only two peptides to speak of: acetyl hexapetide (marketed as Argireline) and palmitoyl pentapeptide (marketed as Matrixyl). Since, these technologies have developed rapidly, and there is now an exciting third generation of peptides that target a host of different skin conditions. They are even replacing many controversial active ingredients as effective and healthy alternatives.