Ingredient Spotlight: Peptides

By Minji

  • When it comes to fighting unnecessary wrinkles in K-beauty products, peptides are king
  • Peptides are short chains of amino acids that function as the building blocks of collagen
  • Unlike retinol, they are usually gentle enough for immediate use on most skin types and can leave your skin glowing! 

When it comes to fighting unnecessary wrinkles, no skincare ingredient really beats retinol.  I recommend to most people that they should explore this ingredient – even if you’re starting out with a very mild dosage.  Having said that, when it comes to K-beauty products, it’s not too common to see retinol featured as an ingredient.  Instead peptides are king.

The main reason for this is that depending on the concentration and your skin’s specific tolerance levels, retinol can come with some harsh side effects.  I love and consistently use a daily gentle retinol moisturizer now, but it wasn’t without trial and error. I had at least a week or two where my skin was inflamed, red and peeling like crazy.

Peptides don’t have this issue.  Despite having some legitimate research behind it and proven to fight wrinkles, even newcomers can generally start using peptide products daily without unwanted side effects.  If you leave procedures aside, K-beauty is generally all about gentle and sustainable skincare habits so it makes sense that Koreans love love love this ingredient.    

So what exactly are peptides you might be asking? Peptides are short chains of amino acids that function as the building blocks of collagen and elastin fibers that are found in our skin.  Hopefully all of you already know how important collagen and elastin are for your skin – if we lose too much of this as we age, this can make our skin wrinkly and saggy.

Peptides are amazing because they are generally small enough to effectively be absorbed into your skin directly (unlike collagen) and can tell your body to produce even more collagen by stabilizing and transporting elements that are key to collagen production.

There are tons of different types of peptides utilized in skincare today (I hear new peptides appear weekly!) and it’s really hard to say certain ones are clearly better than others due to the fact that in many instances they work in slightly different ways.

When looking for peptides in your skincare products, look for ingredients ending in “peptide.” You can find peptides in all sorts of products ranging from toners, serums to creams, but I personally love to apply it as a moisturizer or in sheet mask form.

Similar to retinol, peptides can be sensitive to light, heat and air so look for products packaged in airless and opaque containers.  Again similar to retinol, it will take at least 3-6 months to see any noticeable results on your skin so make sure to give it time and be patient. 

Also, keep in mind, as amazing as peptides are, they’re not the only ingredient your skin needs.  In addition to exploring peptides, my recommendation is to make sure you incorporate a mild exfoliating agent like a gentle AHA toner, vitamin C serum and other antioxidants, and also even a subtle dose or retinol into your daily skincare regimen

If you haven’t already, start exploring some different peptide based products and see how your glow changes for the better!