Hardly new, but certainly gaining notoriety in the anti-aging skincare market, peptides are one of the latest beauty buzzwords, but do you know what they do?

What Are They?

Peptides are the building blocks of proteins and are made up of single amino acids grouped together. There are 20 amino acids in nature, and different combinations of these make different peptides. When peptides join together, they form proteins, and proteins in the skin; think collagen and elastin, allow the skin to maintain its smooth, plump and youthful appearance. The body's ability to produce peptides decreases with age, and so the production of collagen and elastin slows. The result is an aging effect as your skin becomes thinner and loses fat, causing it to sag and develop fine lines.

What Do They Do and Why You Should Use Them?

Proteins in the skin are structural, think the collagen and elastin mentioned earlier, and are responsible for both texture and tone. Research has shown that after the age of 20, a person produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin each year, adding peptides via your skincare routine will reinforce those proteins and stimulate new cell growth, thus providing a rejuvenating effect - think smoothed out lines and wrinkles, a natural lift and improved barrier function. They are powerful anti-ageing ingredients and included in most, if not all, anti-ageing skincare. Different peptides have different roles and can be combined for different effects on the skin, for example, carrier peptides deliver trace minerals to the skin to boost collagen, while enzyme inhibitor peptides work to slow down the skin's natural breakdown of collagen. Indeed, some peptides have a 'Botox' effect, blocking the release of chemicals that cause muscle contraction, therefore, helping to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. It makes sense, therefore, that many anti-ageing products combine multiple peptides to address numerous concerns at the same time.

Where Can I Find Them?

To get the most out of a peptide product, it should be left on the skin for as long as possible. Look for serums and moisturisers over cleansers and toners.

Drunk Elephant Protini™ Polypeptide Cream, SpaceNK

What makes Drunk Elephant such a fantastic brand is the fact their products are active but also non-irritating. Their Protini™ Polypeptide Cream contains nine plant-derived peptide growth factors that mimic the function of human peptides. A protein powder for your face that will address texture, tone and collagen loss.

Kate Somerville Kx Active Concentrates Bio-Mimicking Peptides Serum, €96.90, SpaceNK

A combination of five peptides work together in this serum to improve elasticity and tone. If you have started to notice that your skin is not as taut as it once was, then this hard-working serum is an excellent addition to your morning and evening routine.

Elemis Peptide4 Plumping Pillow Facial, €65, Elemis.com

The body repairs and resets while you sleep, and your skin actively heals itself during this time, so it makes sense that applying a mask before you hit the hay will optimise this regeneration process. The new Elemis Peptide4 Plumping Pillow Facial is a refreshing gel mask that works to repair the skin's natural barrier to prevent dehydration. Slather on and wake up with a fresh, glowing complexion.


- Dani Farrell