Getting Nerdie With The Skin Nerd: Why Peptides Are The Secret to Younger-Looking Skin

The Skin Nerd I find that many search for peptides in anti-ageing skincare without having much of an idea what they are.

This is possibly due to how often they are mentioned in advertising campaigns – no harm done, as peptides are incredible when it comes to battling gravity.

So, what exactly are they? Peptides are two or more amino acids holding hands.

They are like protein jigsaw pieces as when some of them link up, they form different types of proteins.

Peptides are created naturally within the skin and can beneficially affect how our skin balances our own natural reservoir of collagen, the protein in our skin that keeps our skin looking taut and feeling firm.

Collagen along with elastin, another protein that gives our skin elasticity, is what gives our face structure and we start making less of it from age 25… Some even say 18!

That’s the confusing thing about anti-ageing products – the marketing makes you think you should be later on in life to start using them but you really should be using them from a much younger age than you think.

How can they help the protect your skin?

Peptides in topical skincare help to reinforce our own structural proteins, which is something they already know how to do seeing as how they are components of proteins in the first place.

Peptides are incredible when it comes to battling gravity.

Different peptides can send signals to the dermis to do different things including upping collagen production – this is the effect that nearly everyone is looking for as more collagen equals plumper, firmer, younger-looking skin.

What types of peptides in skincare should we be looking for?

Peptides in skincare are often found in different blends and there are many different forms of peptides.

There are dipeptides that are made up of two amino-acid residues held together by a peptide bond, there are tripeptides that are made up of three amino acid residues held together by peptide bonds, there are tetrapeptides made up of four amino acid residues held together by peptide bond… I think you can see where this is going.

There is no way I could go through every single blend you’ll find in skincare as there are ridiculous amounts of combinations of amino acids.

Image via @ellemacphersonofficial on Instagram

However, some of the ones I see most frequently in skincare are palmitoyl tripeptide-5, Matrixyls (Matrixyl or Matrixyl 3000, patented peptide ingredients) and natural variations such as soy and rice.

Don’t be scared by the names, what they do is actually fairly easy to understand.

Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 (Synthetic peptide)

Palmitoyl tripeptide-5 is basically a great mimic that can carry out the same process as a certain protein which in turn convinces the skin to up collagen production. Never underestimate the power of a good actor.

You’ll find this one in IMAGE Skincare’s Ormedic Balancing Bio-Peptide Crème (€78,


The original Matrixyl contains a peptide called palmitoyl-pentapeptide 3 also known as palmitoyl pentapeptide 4… and then we wonder why people get confused.

This peptide encourages the skin to make more collagen, elastin and GAGs (aka glycosaminoglycans) which help to support the collagen and elastin in our skin.

For the most part, brands now opt for using Matrixyl 3000 rather than the original Matrixyl…

Matrixyl 3000

Matrixyl 3000 is a newer version of Matrixyl that contains palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7.

As you can see, it is not really similar in terms of composition but it is thought to be more powerful than Matrixyl. Matrixyl 3000, like Matrixyl, tells the skin to start making more collagen.

You’ll find Matrixyl 3000 in Neostrata’s Skin Active Firming Collagen Booster Serum (€62.95,

Rice Peptides

Rice peptides are believed to have brightening benefits in that they have tyrosinase-inhibitory abilities…

In English, they can help to tackle pigmentation and stop it from forming. They also support our collagen and elastin.

You can find rice peptides in Académie Scientifique De Beauté Men Active Stimulating Balm for Deep Lines (€45.70, which is a post-shave and anti-ageing product in one.

Soy Peptides

Soy varieties work to increase how much collagen and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) we are producing to help firm the skin and support it in this firming action.

You can find soy peptides in Yon-ka’s Serum Vital (€80, alongside beech bud peptides.

Anything else we should know?

There are indeed other peptides that work with the skin to improve texture and tone topically and peptide technology improves year by year.

Copper peptides are another very popular peptide ingredient and they are fabulous.

Copper tripeptides do the same boosting of collagen, elastin and GAGs that other peptides too PLUS they are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant – ideal for protecting against multiple signs of ageing at once.

Peptides are wonders but they are not saviours on their own.

Peptides cannot protect the skin from UVA damage or free radical damage, two things that can cause the skin to age rapidly so ideally you should be looking for peptides in products that also provide antioxidant protection and hydrate the skin.

Don’t neglect to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen every goddamn day either!

Jennifer Rock is the founder of The Skin Nerd online skin consultancy and online cosmeceutical skincare store. If you’re interested in having a consultation with one of her expert Nerdettes, click here for more information.

You can follow Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@theskinnerd).