What Are Peptides in Skincare? Are They Safe?

What Are Peptides in Skincare? Are They Safe?

You know that I wouldn’t create skincare products that contain unnecessary ingredients, which is why I’m careful to research and understand everything that goes into Shani Darden Skin Care. Believe me when I say that collagen peptides are a skincare ingredient that’s definitely worth the hype. 

Peptides can work because they’re an essential ingredient your skin needs to repair, restore, and rejuvenate itself”

— Shani Darden, esthetician

Naturally sourced and suitable for all skin types, peptides are one of the best anti-aging ingredients you can find on an ingredient list. I’ll tell you why and give you some recommendations for adding them to your skincare routine. 

But first, let me explain how your skin changes with age. These changes happen early (around age 20), so this is important for all ages. 

Does Collagen Production Decline With Age?

Your skin is made up of several different proteins, the most plentiful of which are collagen and elastin. These proteins are responsible for keeping your skin plump and firm, as well as helping support its elasticity. 

After age 20, collagen production begins to decrease at a rate of one percent per year. By the time we hit age 40, we’re producing 20 percent less collagen than we were at age 20. This can result in the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.

The Skin Barrier

Another important feature of your skin is the skin barrier. The skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin that protects you from harmful bacteria and helps keep moisture locked inside your skin. 

The skin barrier has a specific pH balance and is home to healthy levels of good bacteria. When the skin barrier is disrupted, you can experience skin issues like dryness, irritation, redness, and even breakouts. 

What Are Peptides?

Also known as polypeptides, or peptide chains, these are the building blocks of proteins. Peptides are amino acids, but the ones you find in skincare are specifically used to create skin-related proteins like collagen and elastin. 

Collagen, specifically, is made up of three polypeptide chains. When you use a topical peptide product, you can increase the pool of peptides available for your skin cells to create new proteins. 

How Do Peptides Work?

Some skincare ingredients sit on top of your skin without penetrating it. These are called occlusive ingredients, and they create a barrier on top of the skin to keep moisture in. They can also help prepare your skin for makeup application.

Unlike occlusives, peptides penetrate the skin barrier, diving deep into the lower layers of your epidermis. Once inside your skin, they’re able to minimize signs of aging by supporting your skin cells’ natural collagen and elastin production. You may sometimes see peptides referred to as “signal peptides” because of their ability to communicate with collagen production centers. 

What Are the Benefits of Peptides?

Peptides can work because they’re an essential ingredient your skin needs to repair, restore, and rejuvenate itself. In addition to supporting collagen production, there are other benefits you’ll get from using products that contain peptides. 

Minimizes Signs of Aging

You know I absolutely love retinol for anti-aging. It’s one of the most highly-researched and proven skincare ingredients. However, it can be harsh for sensitive skin, which is why my Retinol Reform® serum features time-released encapsulated retinol to control the delivery of this powerful ingredient and make it safe for all skin types. 

In addition to retinol, peptides rank high on my list of anti-aging solutions. Some neurotransmitterpeptides are even able to block muscle movements for periods of time, which can minimize the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

Support collagen and elastin production can help your skin look younger and promote skin firmness and elasticity, two factors that contribute to ageless skin. 

Provides Skin Barrier Support

I’m a huge proponent of supporting the skin barrier. When the skin barrier is damaged, my clients can begin to notice problems that range from mild irritation to serious breakouts or dermatitis. 

Using a peptide serum can help restore balance to the skin barrier and keep it strong. Some products, especially harsh cleansers, can strip the skin barrier of moisture and change the skin's pH balance. Peptides can help to nourish the skin and support the integrity of the skin barrier, promoting the appearance of glowing and healthy skin.

Brightens and Smoothens Skin

Lactic acid is my all-time favorite ingredient for infusing damaged, dull skin with a healthy-looking glow. Peptides, however, also have the ability to rejuvenate the skin, soothe irritation, and promote radiance.

Some natural peptides can even help minimize breakouts and balance sebum production, which can also help minimize blemish-causing bacteria.

Are Peptides Safe?

Peptides are well-researched and are considered safe for use. There’s even research to support the use of peptides as a solution for sensitive skin. It’s my recommendation that anyone looking for the right formulation of natural, anti-aging ingredients consider adding peptide skincare to their regimen.

How Can You Add Peptides Into Your Skincare Routine?

Adding a peptide product to your skincare routine is about more than just heading to the store and picking up a night cream that says “peptides” on the label. You want to be smart about what you add to your current routine and make sure that your current ingredients don’t interfere with the addition of a new product.

It’s also crucial to be aware of how your peptides are sourced. Peptides can be naturally sourced or created synthetically. Naturally-sourced peptides come from plants like marine botanicals, peas, and oats. Not all synthetic peptides are bad, but I prefer to use naturally sourced, plant-based ingredients when possible.

Peptides for the Eyes

The skin surrounding your eyes is so much more delicate and fragile than the skin anywhere else on your body. An eye cream can help support moisture and help you avoid common issues like crepey skin, crow’s feet, and dark circles. 

I wanted an eye cream that supported hydration, anti-aging, and minimized the appearance of dark circles, so I created one. My Intensive Eye Renewal Cream contains pea peptides to help increase the skin’s plumpness and elasticity, silk tree extract to visibly lift the skin and increase brightness, vegetable squalene to hydrate skin, and niacinamide to combat fine lines.

To add this to your routine, use it every morning and night after you’ve applied your other creams and serums. Eye cream should always follow moisturizer for maximum benefits. 

No more layering on thick under-eye products. This cream does the job of four and is lightweight enough to wear under your makeup. 

Peptides for the Skin

Adding a peptide serum to your routine can give you all the benefits we’ve talked about, and they’re safe to use with most skincare products. If you already use a retinol product in the morning, you’ll apply that first and then add your peptide serum. At night, apply your peptide serum after your regular cleanser, toners/essences, and serums. 

I recommend my Hydration Peptide Cream because it is so packed with skin-loving ingredients. Formulated with peptides, squalane, ceramides, and Hydrosella™, this oil-free moisturizer supports the skin barrier so that you can enjoy 72-hour hydration.

This serum also includes niacinamide, which further aid in helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as help keep your skin hydrated.

For sensitive skin types, try adding peptide products every other day to start. This is the safest way to add new products without experiencing irritation.

The Bottom Line

Peptides are a researched and safe ingredient that I love to use with my clients. Peptide skin care can support collagen and elastin production and also help keep your skin barrier healthy. Adding peptide products to your skincare routine is generally easy and safe as long as you are using high-quality products and staying aware of how your skin reacts. 

I approach skincare by supporting the skin with high-quality ingredients to help soothe and refine. Peptides can help build skin protein and may help turn back the clock to reveal more youthful skin. 


Why does skin wrinkle with age? What is the best way to slow or prevent this process? 

| Scientific American

Skin barrier function | PMC

Usage of Synthetic Peptides in Cosmetics for Sensitive Skin | PMC

Enhanced Skin Permeation of Anti-wrinkle Peptides via Molecular Modification | PMC


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