When your skin starts to wrinkle or sag, it’s because your collagen (and its close friend elastin) are breaking down and not giving your skin the support it’s used to. Collagen is the protein that gives your skin it’s structure and firmness.
The bad news is that after about age 30, your body makes about 1% less collagen each year. Sun damage, stress, poor diet, and smoking can break down collagen even faster.
The good news is that there are things you can do about it. Protect your skin, wear your sunscreen, stop smoking and eat a healthy diet.
And stimulate your skin to produce more collagen. There are a couple of ways to do this. Supplements can help, tools like a dermal roller, facial acupuncture, and skincare products-vitamin C, retinol, and peptides.
If you want firmer, brighter skin peptides should be included in your skin care routine.
If you’re thinking peptides sound familiar but can’t quite think of why, think back to high school biology…
Need a refresher?
I don’t blame you.
Here are the basics:
- Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins
- Chains of amino acids form peptides and chains of peptides form proteins
- Proteins are the building blocks of your body, including your skin (especially collagen)
Peptides in your diet
It stands to reason that to have beautiful healthy skin (and good overall health), you need to have a diet that includes enough of and the right kind of amino acids and proteins. These are the building blocks your body needs to build healthy tissue and perform a myriad of other vital functions (hormones, enzymes, energy production to name a few).
When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids and peptides, then reassembles these building blocks into the tissues and enzymes your body needs. There are about 20 amino acids that are important for your health.
There are some amino acids your body can make on its own as long as you’re healthy. These are called non-essential or conditional amino acids.
The amino acids that you need to have in your diet because your body is unable to make them are called essential amino acids. They’re all important but several have more vital roles in your skin and hair health.
- Methionine is important to the health and flexibility of your skin and hair. It also helps keep nails strong.
- Threonine is critical for healthy skin and teeth. It’s an important part of the proteins collagen and elastin, and your tooth enamel.
- Leucine is important for regulation of blood-sugar levels growth and repair of muscle and bone tissue, growth hormone production, and wound healing. All of these reflect in your skin.
Rather than seek out these essential amino acids individually, it’s best to get them from a healthy, well rounded diet. The best sources of amino acids are from animal proteins: lean meats, seafood, poultry, eggs and dairy. You can also get them from plant sources like quinoa, nuts, seeds, beans, grains and soy.
What about collagen supplements?
There are a number of studies (references below) that show taking a good collagen supplement can improve skin hydration and elasticity, and reduce the depth of wrinkles. Plus there is some good evidence that it can help with aging joints and arthritis too.
There’s a lot more to talk about when it comes to collagen, so I’ll write a separate blog post on it soon. In the meantime, I’m in for collagen supplements. Drop me a line if you want some suggestions.
Peptides on your skin
Getting the enough and the right amino acids and proteins definitely helps your skin and overall health. And you can use peptides directly on your skin and get some great results too.
What’s really cool about using peptides is that they are small enough to be absorbed into the skin and once there they get to work signaling and stimulating your skin to produce more proteins! These are those same proteins your skin needs in order to maintain a firm, smooth surface and a healthy barrier.
Clinical research shows that using peptides (there are a lot of them and different types do different things) in your skincare can help to brighten and firm your skin.
According to Dr. Jwala Karnik,“While collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the skin, peptides are small enough to penetrate the skin, [and] when applied topically, they signal the skin to repair itself. In response to these signals, your skin may boost its production of collagen peptides.”
One study examined the effects of acetyl hexapeptide (a botanically derived peptide) and showed that the appearance of wrinkles were reduced by 30% over a 30 day period.
The same study found that the peptides palmitoyl tripeptide 5 and palmitoyl tetrapeptide 7 were similarly effective. Both peptides can be found in our SnowDrops.
Not a magic bullet, but a great active ingredient
While Peptides are important in keeping your skin healthy and looking great they aren’t a magic bullet. They can do wonderful things for your skin, but they aren’t going to produce the same results as cosmetic procedures like injectables or fillers.
Peptides work by signaling other cells to produce collagen, elastin, and other proteins, so you need to keep using peptides regularly to keep the process going.
No one ingredient can do it all. Each one has a (or a few) functions they’re really good at. When you combine ingredients that work well together, you get an effect that’s greater than each individual ingredient on its own.
Peptides do their best work when they’re combined with other ingredients that are good for your skin. Antioxidants, moisturizing, soothing, and other restoring ingredients all work with peptides to boost their effect and keep your skin looking great.
That’s why using a multi-active ingredient “cocktail” formula is more effective than a simple recipe to keep your skin looking fresh and fabulous as the years fly by.
Gorouhi, Maibach. Role of topical peptides in preventing or treating aged skin. International Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2009.