Peptides are a new buzzy ingredient in skincare that not only causes the prices of the products containing them to shoot up, but they also come with some extensive claims.
One of these claims is that topically applied peptides work just as well as Botox and have the ability to give you the smoothest, silkiest skin you never even imagined you could have.
However, although peptides can definitely offer some benefits for the skin, are they really Botox in a bottle? Let's explore.
How Do Peptides Work for the Skin?
Peptides are short chains of amino acids and the building blocks of tough, durable proteins such as collagen, elastin, and keratin, which are responsible for our skin's texture, tone, elasticity, firmness, and function. So, by default, peptides are crucial for healthy skin, and there are hundreds of different ones made from different combinations of amino acids naturally occurring in our bodies.
Even though we naturally have peptides in our bodies, we start to lose around 1% of collagen per year when we hit our late twenties, and this leads to our skin's natural communication channels slowing down over time. Therefore, when applied topically, peptides penetrate the outer layer of the skin and act as messengers that trigger the skin cells to perform specific functions such as building collagen and elastin, thus encouraging the skin to look and "behave" younger.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids and the building blocks of collagen, elastin, and keratin.
Additionally, some scientific research has suggested that peptides can support your skin on multiple levels, and besides firming, they can also help soothe inflammation, hydrate the skin, and fight free radical damage caused by excessive UV exposure.
Do Peptides Work Like Botox?
While some peptides have been shown to improve collagen production through communicating with the fibroblast cells, they don't have the same efficacy as Botox.
Botox is a brand name for an injectable neurotoxin called botulinum toxin type A that works by blocking signals from the nerves to the muscles. In order to do this, Botox is directly injected into the muscle so that the muscle can't contract, and this makes wrinkles relax and soften.
Peptides, or more specifically, neurotransmitter peptides such as Argireline are often compared to Botox because they’re believed to cause a similar muscle reaction. But, in comparison to botulinum toxin, Argireline presents significantly lower efficacy.
Argireline is applied topically, and it simply doesn't have the ability to penetrate deep into the dermis to target the muscular junction, which is where Botox works because it's directly injected into the muscles.
Argireline peptides are applied topically, so they simply don't have the ability to penetrate like Botox.
So, to state the obvious, no, peptide serums won't give you the same instantaneous results that Botox delivers. But, considering the risks of Botox treatment, peptides are a good alternative if you're worried about injecting a neurotoxin into your face.
When using a peptide serum, you will only see results over time, and you would have to use them consistently because skincare is a long-term game. And while peptides can definitely improve the appearance of fine lines and give you a healthier, plumper, and more youthful appearance, they won't block the muscles from contracting, and if this is the primary cause of your wrinkles, you will likely still notice them.
The Benefits of Peptides for the Skin
Peptides may not work exactly like Botox, but incorporating them into your routine can definitely offer many benefits for the skin. Some of these include:
Improved Skin Barrier
The skin barrier is the body’s line of defense against the potentially harmful components in the external world, including bacteria, UV rays, pollution, and other pathogens. By fighting against free-radical damage, peptides can strengthen our skin barrier and help improve the function of our skin.
Reduced Lines and Wrinkles
Since peptides serve as messengers to the collagen-producing cells and encourage them to produce more of this durable protein, using them consistently can lead to firmer and plumper skin, as well as reduced lines and wrinkles.
In addition to collagen, peptides also make up elastin fibers, which is another type of protein that helps our skin remain firm and elastic. This will help the skin look fuller and bounce back into shape quicker.
Peptides have anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease irritation on the skin and improve inflammatory conditions such as atopic dermatitis. But besides that, peptides can also help improve hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone, which are usually the result of inflammation on the skin.
Reduced Acne Breakouts
Since peptides have anti-inflammatory properties, they’re already a good option for people dealing with acne, which is one of the most common inflammatory conditions. Some studies suggest that antimicrobial peptides that exhibit low hemolytic activity against human erythrocytes have the ability to inhibit the growth of the acne-causing bacteria and minimize the inflammatory lesions.
Even though the marketing claims around peptides are often exaggerated, these components can definitely offer a multitude of benefits for the skin.
However, relying on only one ingredient to save your skin will most likely leave you disappointed. This is why having a complete skincare routine that works for your skin and addresses your skin concerns is very important before experimenting with something new. A good skincare routine will maintain your skin in its best form, which is why new products are likely to work even better if your skin is already in a good state.
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