As we learn more about how our skin ages we discover more technologically advanced ways to address the concerns that come with aging skin. Peptides, in recent times have become synonymous with technologically advanced skincare, but how much do we really know about these miraculous bits of protein that are made primarily of amino acids.
Scientists were already somewhat familiar with peptides in the 1950s, but it was not until the late 1980s that the first copper peptide was incorporated into skin care. Even then, it was a slow process to incorporate them into products, until the beginning of the year 2000 when Palmitoyl Pentapeptide established a reputation as a non-irritating, comparable alternative to retinol for anti-aging. These peptides paved the way for other peptides to launch into a class of their own with functions that go above and beyond their first- generation counterparts for collagen support.
Peptides and Proteins in the Skin
Skin aging involves a series of complex factors, which include:
- An increase in the breakdown of proteins;
- An increase in free radical damage that contributes to a chain reaction of inflammation and cell destruction;
- A decrease in communication between growth factors and cells, leading to a decline in structural proteins; and
- A weakened cohesion within the Dermal Epidermal Junction (DEJ).
All these factors contribute to a loss of skin suppleness, firmness, smoothness, evenness of tone and elasticity.
Peptides may be the answer to addressing the aforementioned skin concerns, thus delaying signs of aging.
Peptides are active chains of amino acids (protein’s “building blocks”) that make up proteins. Proteins are essential to every organism and partake in nearly every process within cells. They help regulate bodily functions, reduce inflammation and enhance antioxidant benefits. Once we understand the extensive role proteins play within the body, we can begin to grasp the value of peptides.
With the evolution of technology, topically applied peptides are becoming even more effective at addressing skin issues. By applying certain topical peptides to your skin, you are in essence nourishing the skin with a protein diet that strengthens, nourishes and realigns the building blocks of the skin, allowing for a stronger, healthier foundation.
Components of the Skin
Proteins in the skin come in many different forms and serve many different purposes. The skin’s surface is similar to a brick and mortar structure where the corneocytes (bricks) are attached to one another by desmosomes and held firmly in place by lipids (mortar).
Dermal Epidermal Junction (DEJ): The DEJ holds the skin together, improving its compactness, firmness and elasticity. It maintains skin cohesion and anchors the epidermis to the dermis. Imagine the skin as being a series of chain links. If just one of the links break, elasticity would decline and skin would begin to sag.
Extracellular Matrix (ECM): ECM is a complex network of proteins and proteoglycans that can interact simultaneously with multiple cell surface receptors. These proteins include a wide variety of collagens, laminins, fibronectins and elastins that are essential for cell growth and wound healing.
Collagen: Collagen can be described as being similar to the springs in your mattress. It gives great support to your skin but when it declines or its production slows, wrinkles appear. It is the most abundant form of protein in the ECM. At around the age of 35, types I and III’s decline becomes more noticeable with the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, but other types of declining collagen contribute to wrinkle formation as well. To date 29 types of collagen have been identified and several continue to be discovered.
Not all collagen contributes to youthful looking skin. Collagen also plays a part in our ligaments and connective tissues. The collagen in our skin is divided into five families based on structure type. It is well known that the decline in collagen within our skin is key to how our skin looks and performs as we age.
There are also other proteins that play an integral part in reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. These are:
- Laminin (including Laminin V) – is the second most abundant protein in the ECM that exists only in the basement membranes that support the epidermis.It provides support and anchors the epidermis to the dermis.
- Elastin – is a protein in connective tissues that gives elasticity to tissues, allowing them to stretch when needed.
- Integrin – are cell surface proteins that mediate the adhesion of cells to ECM proteins such as collagen and laminin.
- Fibronectin – is a protein that binds and improves cell adhesion with collagen and cell surface integrin.
- Decorin (Proteoglycan) – is a glycosylated protein (a protein attached to a carbohydrate) that plays a role in cell-to-cell adhesion, acts as a filler substance, and plays a role in protein stability and molecule signaling.
- Hyaluronic Acid – is a glycosaminoglycan found in the extracellular space that resists compression by absorbing significant amounts of water.
How Peptides Work
In their simplest form, peptides behave as a dispatcher, signaling cells that carry out specific functions from support to inhibiting enzymes. One of the first widely used peptides, PalmitoylPentapeptide, is a collagen fragment that was shown to increase Collagen types I, IV and glycosaminoglycans. This collagen fragment tricked the skin into thinking it has broken down too much collagen during the natural breakdown and buildup process and thereby triggered an increase in collagen synthesis. Although this peptide demonstrated effectiveness in stimulating collagen production, it only addresses one aspect of repairing the building blocks of the skin. Since this peptide’s introduction, the peptide category has evolved to address several concerns in skin care. They are modified with a fatty acid component that allows them to be readily absorbed into the skin when they are used in skin care formulations.
- Purify: Exfoliate, brighten and cleanse skin of impurities.
- Relax: Minimize repetitive wrinkle-causing facial contractions.
- Nourish: Feed and energize skin with essential nutrients and vitamins.
- Stimulate: Promote healthy skin functions.
- Hydrate: Perfectly balance and moisturize the skin.
- Protect: Maintain a healthy collagenmatrix while strengthening skin defenses.
In the beginning, the topical peptide category’s main function was to help stimulate collagen and relax the appearance of expression lines. However, with recent innovations their performance has expanded. First generation peptides’ main role was to support one or two types of collagen, but as discussed many types of collagen exist and the structure of the DEJ depends on the right quality and quantity of each type of collagen. Peptides have evolved and are now categorized as second and third generation peptides. These peptides are even replacing many controversial active ingredients as effective and healthy alternatives.
Radiant RG-CELL has recently launched a new and improved peptide complex containing 99% active peptides! Radiant RG-CELL Power 99 Peptide Complex is a cocktail of 8 brand name peptides that are well studied and proven to improve the skin’s structure and appearance on several fronts – See more here.