What Are Peptides in Skincare? The Secret Ingredient to Healthy, Youthful Skin

Peptides are the ingredient to look for in anti-aging skincare. If you aren’t already using peptides in your skincare routine, especially if you are over 35 years old, today’s article is a must-read! It will cover everything you need to know about peptides, plus the most effective ways to incorporate them into your daily self-care.

Keep reading to learn more about:

  • What are peptides?
  • What are peptides in skincare?
  • Types of peptides
  • What do peptides do for the skin?
  • How to use peptides in your skincare routine

Are you ready to experience healthy, youthful skin? Let’s dive in!

What Are Peptides?

Simply put, peptides are small proteins, called short-chain amino acids. Proteins are long-chain amino acids, often composed of hundreds or more amino acids in a specific sequence.

Amino acids are the building blocks of all the proteins in the body, including important skin proteins like collagen and elastin. You get amino acids from eating protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, dairy, beans, and nuts. Then your body uses the amino acids to build peptides and proteins.

Peptides are found in all cells and have many biological properties, including:

  • Antioxidant actions
  • Antimicrobial actions
  • Anti-inflammatory actions
  • Enzyme-inhibiting actions
  • Chemotaxis properties – cells respond to peptide signals
  • Cellular communication

Peptides are added to skincare formulas to direct these actions to the skin. Single peptides may have multiple effects, working on several pathways in the skin simultaneously.

Types of Peptides

Many different peptides are added to skincare products to target specific actions in the skin, reducing the appearance of aging. A 2009 study categorized skincare peptides into four categories: neurotransmitter peptides, signal peptides, carrier peptides, and enzyme-inhibitor peptides. Newer research also looks at antimicrobial peptides.

Let’s look at each category:

  • Neurotransmitter peptides – This category includes Botox and other injectable peptides used by dermatologists, as well as topical hexapeptides that have similar actions.
  • Signal peptides – These are the most common peptides found in skincare products and are considered natural growth factors. They stimulate the production of structural proteins like collagen and elastic.
  • Carrier peptides – This category of peptides transports nutrients, such as magnesium or copper, to the skin. The first application of carrier peptides was in wound healing formulas, but newer uses include diminishing fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Enzyme-Inhibitor peptides – These peptides inhibit aging enzymes such as collagenase which breaks down collagen, and elastase, which breaks down elastin to slow the depletion of these crucial proteins.
  • Antimicrobial peptides – This category of peptides decreases inflammation and improves skin barrier One study suggests antimicrobial peptides as an effective treatment for atopic dermatitis.

What Do Peptides Do for Skin?

Peptides in skincare are known to have soothing properties while improving the appearance and function of the skin.

Benefits of peptides include:

  • Skin brightening and smoothing
  • Increasing collagen and elastin
  • Reducing fine lines and wrinkles
  • Promoting skin healing
  • Stimulating natural growth factors
  • Improving the skin barrier
  • Evening skin tone and reducing hyperpigmentation
  • Improving skin hydration
  • And more!

Skin Brightening

Dull skin can be a sign of aging and the accumulation of dead skin cells. Along with exfoliation, peptides can penetrate the skin and promote a glowing, hydrated, radiant complexion.

Boost Collagen and Elastin

Collagen production declines with age while collagen breakdown accelerates, leading to a loss of skin firmness. Topical peptides slow collagen loss, promote collagen growth, and increase hydration, leaving you with firmer and more elastic skin.

A 2019 study suggests topical peptides increase the water content in the epidermis and improve skin elasticity after 28 days of use. Plus, the topical peptides worked faster than oral supplementation of peptides.

Reduce Fine Lines and Wrinkles

One of the most apparent signs of aging is fine lines and wrinkles as protein structures in the skin break down and lose hydration. A 2020 study looked at the anti-wrinkle benefits of peptides and found significant improvements in skin wrinkles with only two weeks of use.

How to Use Peptides in Your Skincare Routine

Incorporate peptides into your skincare routine anywhere a product sits on the skin for some time, allowing the peptides to penetrate the skin. In addition, use products that combine peptides with other active ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, niacinamide, and retinol, for synergistic effects.


A peptide-enriched serum is a wonderful way to get the benefits of peptides, along with other hydrating and nourishing skin nutrients. Apply serum to a clean face and allow it to penetrate for a few minutes before applying the next steps of your routine.

NassifMD® Age Defying Eye Renewal Serum contains Argireline® Amplified, an advanced hexapeptide, often called Botox in a bottle! It softens expression lines, making them appear less prominent while improving the appearance of the skin around the eyes. It also contains Eyeseryl® Solution B, a tetrapeptide complex, to reduce puffiness and dark circles while moisturizing and improving elasticity.


You can also include peptides as part of your moisturizing routine. Since moisturizers lock in moisture and absorb into the skin over the day (or night), choosing moisturizers with added peptides can increase the hydration and youthfulness of the skin.

NassifMD® Soft Focus Hydrating Day Cream is a smart daytime option. This formula contains Crystalide, a bio-harmonical peptide to preserve skin transparency and promote glowing skin. NassifMD® Soft Focus Hydrating Day Cream also contains hyaluronic acid for hydration and reducing fine lines, niacinamide to decrease inflammation and protect the skin, and red clover extract to purify and rebalance skin.

Exfoliators and Peels

Yet another way to add peptide technology to your skincare routine is with expertly designed exfoliators and peels. These products remove dead surface skin cells and deliver peptides to deeper skin layers, promoting healthy skin turnover and glowing, radiant skin.

NassifMD® Micro-Spa Radiance Resurfacing Peel is an excellent example of how to add targeted peptides to a peel inspired by medical spa treatments. Step One is a Radiance Resurfacing Mask with Vitamin C that contains Dermaxyl™, an anti-aging smart peptide that helps smooth and repair the skin barrier. Step Two is a Radiance Activating Gel with alpha hydroxy acids for gentle exfoliation.

Applying peptides with needles is an effective way to deliver the peptides to deeper layers of the skin for a profound and lasting effect. Dr. Nassif designed NassifMD® 3HA Micro-Needle Strips to do just that. They contain acetyl hexapeptide-8, which relaxes facial muscles and the skin for a younger appearance.

The truth is, there are even more ways to add peptides to your skincare. You can add them to multiple steps of your skincare routine.

See the full NassifMD® Peptides Collection for inspiration. The full collection includes:

 With so many choices, there is much room to experiment to find the best peptide-containing products for your unique skin. Give peptides a try and notice fewer wrinkles, even skin tone, and more hydrated, younger, and healthier skin!



  1. Aguilar-Toalá, J. E., Hernández-Mendoza, A., González-Córdova, A. F., Vallejo-Cordoba, B., & Liceaga, A. M. (2019). Potential role of natural bioactive peptides for development of cosmeceutical skin products.Peptides, 122, 170170.
  2. Gorouhi, F., & Maibach, H. I. (2009). Role of topical peptides in preventing or treating aged skin.International journal of cosmetic science, 31(5), 327–345.
  3. Nguyen, H. L. T., Trujillo-Paez, J. V., Umehara, Y., Yue, H., Peng, G., Kiatsurayanon, C., Chieosilapatham, P., Song, P., Okumura, K., Ogawa, H., Ikeda, S., & Niyonsaba, F. (2020). Role of Antimicrobial Peptides in Skin Barrier Repair in Individuals with Atopic Dermatitis.International journal of molecular sciences, 21(20), 7607.
  4. Nguyen, H. L. T., Trujillo-Paez, J. V., Umehara, Y., Yue, H., Peng, G., Kiatsurayanon, C., Chieosilapatham, P., Song, P., Okumura, K., Ogawa, H., Ikeda, S., & Niyonsaba, F. (2020). Role of Antimicrobial Peptides in Skin Barrier Repair in Individuals with Atopic Dermatitis.International journal of molecular sciences, 21(20), 7607.
  5. Maia Campos, P. M. B. G., Melo, M. O., & Siqueira César, F. C. (2019). Topical application and oral supplementation of peptides in the improvement of skin viscoelasticity and density.Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 18(6), 1693–1699.
  6. Jeong, S., Yoon, S., Kim, S., Jung, J., Kor, M., Shin, K., Lim, C., Han, H. S., Lee, H., Park, K. Y., Kim, J., Chung, H. J., & Kim, H. J. (2019). Anti-Wrinkle Benefits of Peptides Complex Stimulating Skin Basement Membrane Proteins Expression.International journal of molecular sciences, 21(1), 73.



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