The Peptide Story

UK brand Nude Skincare was one of the first brands to include naturally derived peptides in their skincare range. As a brand leader in the field of natural skincare we asked a member of their team, Anne-marie Harris, to fill us in on the natural versus synthetic peptides debate.

The Peptide Story

Present in every living cell and forming an integral part in a variety of biochemical activities, peptides play a crucial role in the physiological and biochemical functions of life.

Peptides appear in the body as enzymes, hormones, antibiotics, receptors etc. Peptides are chains of up to 50 amino acids, any more amino acids and they become proteins. Within the skin peptides form a wide variety of structural and hormonal functions and also act as chemical triggers.

Milk is a rich source of peptides. Normal drinking milk contains a group of molecules called cytokines. Cytokines include a diverse family of peptides, which calm inflammation, regulate the immune system, repair tissue and stimulate the growth of collagen and other connective tissues, leading to the restructuring of the skin.

As the skin ages the surface of the skin becomes dryer, moisture and fat levels decrease and the epidermis as well as the underlying dermis become thinner. The amount of connective tissues within the skin diminishes and loses structure along with a continued decrease in the capacity of the skin to bind water. The elastic fibres break down resulting in a lack of tissue tension. All of these factors result in skin ageing and an increase in wrinkles and fine lines.

Natural Peptides

Milk is known as a nearly complete food due to the large number of peptides, proteins and amino acids it contains. Due to the cell density of milk it functions as a natural environment for cells and their building blocks. It also contains a number of immunological cell types which have the ability to stimulate an immune response such as calming inflammation.

The beauty of using naturally sourced peptides is that there are a number of different cytokines, all of which carry out a slightly different role within the skin, some triggering defensive functions to protect the skin, others stimulating the production of collagen and tissue-support functions. The mixture of cytokines and other molecules work together, triggering intricate systems of immune defence and tissue regeneration.

Tests carried out by Peterson, Reinhold and Tyborczyk demonstrated the intricate responses of the skin to a natural milk complex, resulting in a clear increase in skin firmness, elasticity, thickness and a clear reduction in the depth of wrinkles.

Milk is renowned for its life sustaining ability due to its reputation as a nearly complete food, but its use in cosmetics is very new and gaining esteem quickly, because of their specific properties. The combined affects of the multiple peptides on the epidermis and dermis has a profound effect on the appearance, texture and resilience of the skin. To stimulate the production of collagen within the skin has to be one of the most effective corrective and protective tools in the fight against premature ageing of the skin.

Synthetic Peptides

Peptides are a common anti-ageing ingredient in many performance skincare brands, but sadly they are often synthetic. This can come in 2 forms, the chains of amino acids can be completely synthetically generated in a lab, or they can be isolated from a natural source by splitting up the peptide chains. Either way, these synthetic molecules are missing the magic that comes from a naturally bound combination of peptides with all the biological chemical triggers and nutrients it comes with.

When an ingredient is created synthetically it is not easily recognised by the skin. It is likely to be a cheaper and faster to produce, but the skin will not respond in the same way as it would to a natural ingredient. Synthetic molecules are often different shapes to their natural versions and like trying to use the wrong key to open a lock, they will not stimulate the same responses in the skin.

Splitting natural peptides to create an isolate (a pentapeptide for example) involves the use of synthetic chemicals and processes which are likely to remain attached and end up in your skincare products. These may potentially be irritating and harmful to the skin.

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