What Are Peptides?

A valuable addition to any skincare routine (but particularly if you’re trying to prevent and reduce signs of ageing), peptides are a secret agent of the skincare world, working behind the scenes to strengthen and boost skin health by improving the way that our cells function. 

You’ll often see peptides mentioned on product packaging and in marketing claims, but as good as they sound (just the right amount of science-y, right?), chances are you don’t know exactly what they are and what they do… Here’s the 411. 

What are peptides?

Peptides make up the proteins and molecules that are the building blocks of skin. They keep skin feeling smooth, firm, and bouncy – without peptides, skin would be loose, textured, and wrinkle-prone.  

How do peptides work?

When applied to skin, peptides send signals to cells which encourages them to produce collagen and replace what our bodies naturally lose as we age, so they essentially help to preserve the appearance of healthy, youthful-looking skin. They also work best when paired with antioxidants so they can address multiple signs of skin ageing all at the same time. 

Why should I use peptides?

Peptides help to reduce the appearance of those first visible signs of ageing skin – like lines, wrinkles, rough texture, and loose skin. As we age, our skin loses the peptides that make up proteins such as collagen and elastin, which is why mature skin has these characteristics. They also help to strengthen the skin barrier, lock in hydration, reduce inflammation, and repair damaged skin, so can be beneficial to all skin types. 

When should I use peptides?

For best results, peptides should be applied during both your morning and evening skincare routines. They work well on skin that’s recently been exfoliated but shouldn’t be combined with enzymes or AHAs (like glycolic or lactic acid) as these will reduce the efficiency of the peptides. 

Beauty Editor's Picks

Combined with a powerful form of hyaluronic acid, this peptide-rich serum is just the sort of hard-working, skin-transforming product we need in our morning routine. Patted into skin, the silky lotion deeply hydrates skin, leaving it dewy (and perfectly prepped for makeup) while the peptides work hard beneath the surface to boost long-term skin health. 

This bright blue serum is every bit as cool as it looks – use to repair, hydrate, and plump skin that’s looking a little dull and lacklustre. The combination of copper peptides, probiotics, and hyaluronic acid targets multiple skin concerns in one go. 

Designed to work alongside skin’s body clock (skin regenerates overnight), Elemis’ Peptide range is perfect for renewing tired-looking skin. Slather this luxurious cream on before you go to sleep, and after just a couple of uses you’ll notice a plumper, smoother, brighter complexion (thanks to the hefty dose of peptides).