May. 02, 2020

What are peptides and what are they used for in skincare products?

Cosmetic products containing peptides are new and popular anti-ageing remedies. But what are the pros and cons of those products? You can read more about this in this blog.



When amino acids are linked together, they form chains called peptides. Many people wonder about the difference between peptides and proteins . Both consist of the same building blocks (amino acids), but the difference is in the size. Peptides usually contain fifty or fewer amino acids. Proteins are made up of fifty or more amino acids and can be made from polypeptides (a long peptide chain). There are different types of peptides, and they all consist of different combinations of amino acids. These can be classified or categorized based on their source and function.


Proteins, mainly collagen , are fundamental building blocks of human skin. Collagen homeostasis is a natural process by which our body produces and breaks down collagen into peptides. Collagen is produced by fibroblasts and broken down by enzymes, namely matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) . When there is a good balance between the production and breakdown of collagen, the extracellular matrix ensures beautiful, firm skin. When more collagen is broken down than is produced, the firmness decreases and wrinkles appear. Therefore, it is important to both stimulate collagen production and inhibit collagen breakdown .


Collagen production

When you are young, your body produces large amounts of collagen. However , as you age , the amount of collagen decreases . After your 20th birthday, your body produces an average of 1% less collagen peptides every year. Without collagen peptides, the skin does not remain intact and this results in the loss of firmness , the appearance of wrinkles and changes in skin texture .

Collagen production can be stimulated through peptides . Using collagen (as a protein) is not helpful in skin care products because these molecules are too large to pass through the stratum corneum (the top layer of your skin). Short peptides are small enough to penetrate and when applied topically and in the correct 'carrier' (ie formulation). Then they can stimulate collagen production . There are different types of cosmetic peptides, each with their own mechanism of action. Commonly used peptides in skin care products are signal transduction peptides . When collagen is broken down naturally, the endogenous peptides formed in this way act as a warning system, prompting your body to produce more collagen. Signal transduction peptides mimic that natural warning system that automatically triggers the body to produce more collagen.

Collagen breakdown

Accelerated collagen breakdown can be the result of an incorrect lifestyle (sun exposure, stress ...) and / or a wrongly programmed genetic code . Mutations ('errors', defects) in MMP genes, such as collagenase (MMP-1) and stromelysin (MMP-3), cause the corresponding enzymes to be 'overactive' and thus work faster than desired. So they break down collagen faster than it is produced. The skin loses its firmness and ages faster. The breakdown of collagen can be slowed down by adding a different kind of peptides and/or active substances that reduce the effects of MMP enzymes to your daily skin care.



+ They help to strengthen the essential proteins in the skin, making peptides powerful anti-ageing ingredients .

+ Different types of peptides can be combined in one cosmetic product : different types of peptides activate different biological processes. By combining them in one product, they are even more effective against skin aging.


- There is controversy over whether or not peptides are still too large to penetrate the skin barrier (the 500 dalton rule). According to that rule, a substance can only penetrate the skin if its molecular weight (MW) is less than 500 Dalton. If peptides are larger than 500 Daltons, they are probably too large to penetrate. Still, the vector or carrier plays an important role in skin absorption. Using certain liposomal formulas helps them to be better absorbed by the skin.

- If peptide formulations are not stored correctly, they can be vulnerable to degradation by light and air . Therefore, the packaging of the product is decisive for its operation. In addition, it is preferable to apply peptides in the evening because your skin is more permeable at night, but also to avoid a reduced effect due to UV light.

- Certain types of peptides can cause irritation in certain skin types.


The most common (signal transduction) peptide in skin care products is palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 (matrixyl), which is very effective against fine lines. Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 stimulates the production of type I and type II collagen and fibronectin, which play an important role in skin firmness and elasticity. It is not only important to stimulate collagen production, but also to prevent collagen breakdown by inhibiting the action of MMPs (enzymes that break down collagen).

Another important tip : don't choose a facial cleanser with peptides, because you rinse it off almost immediately. Polypeptides will be much more effective in a cream or serum form, preferably applied at night. For good effectiveness, your product must also contain a high concentration of peptides. If you are wondering which product you need and which peptides are most efficient for your skin , you can take a closer look at your DNA . From that we read information that will probably answer all your questions :)

60% is the basis of your skin and is determined by your DNA.

Your DNA makes you who you are. It not only tells you what care your skin needs, but also how prone your skin is to aging.
Your DNA does not lie and remains unchanged.

Our DNA products focus on your specific needs resulting from your DNA profile. We collect this information with a DNA test. You can order the DNA test separately or in a package with your products.

Learn more about DNA skincare & Nomige from Dr. Barbara Geusens

Watch an interactive and educational session where you will learn more about your skin, the role of your DNA, skin care and the concept of Nomige.

The online Masterclass is the ideal opportunity to learn more about Nomige and DNA skin care.

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Connect with us and follow the hashtag #MyNomige to stay up to date with the latest skin tips and news.

Follow our story

Connect with us and follow the hashtag #MyNomige to stay up to date with the latest skin tips and news.

Follow the hashtag #Nomige and stay informed about the latest skin tips and news.
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Everything you need to know about your skin