The Pivotal Role of Peptides in Skincare Manufacturing Today
J Sikora, G.S. Cosmeceutical USA, Inc.
Every decade has its particular “star technologies”; historic breakthroughs that can be credited for fueling the growth and advancement of our beloved and ever-evolving skincare industry. In the eighties, we heralded the birth of AHA’s to accelerate our collective, ever-slowing, cell renewal process. The popularity of fruity acids resounded globally, as skincare obsessive’s around the globe eagerly celebrated the arrival of younger, fresher-looking skin. In the nineties, industry enthusiasts coveted new, super-potent wrinkle-fighting ingredients which sourced a fresh breed of mega anti-oxidants, including Co-Q10 and Idebenone, a highly efficacious, skin regenerative, free radical warrior.
By the late nineties and into the new millennium, our industry began to re-focus its attention and resources on two highly diverse fronts, one natural…the other synthetic. On the natural end of things, cosmetic formulators began touting the amazing preventative and restorative powers of mega-potent food and berry extracts: including Polyphenols (Resveratrol), Pomegranate Extract, Acai Berry, Blueberries and Mangosteen.
Simultaneously, cosmetic chemists positioned at the other end of the spectrum were busy raising venture capital to fuel a new promising synthetic category of anti-aging technologies known as “Peptides”. The Peptide Revolution, as many choose to call it, was officially ‘on’ from that day forward, generating billions of dollars in new growth and investment capital for cosmetic manufacturers, brand houses and ultimately, skincare influencers and trend-setters around the world.
The broad endorsement of Peptide Technology has been striking. It is not simply cosmetic researchers, formulators and beauty editors who have become modern evangelists for Peptides, it is Dermatologists as well.
Indeed, a recent article in CosmeticDesign.com confirms that these trained physicians…“see the potential for bioactive peptide ingredients in cosmetics as ‘immense’ due to their (Peptides) highly targeted and flexible nature”.1
So, what are peptides exactly… and, why have so many new breakthrough products released over the past decade been formulated and manufactured to showcase these sophisticated anti-aging chemicals?
According to a study led by the Kline Group, a leading beauty industry research firm; “Peptides are anti-aging focused chemicals, synthetics, which claim to bring pharmaceutical strength technology to non-prescription products.” “In essence, they are pharma grade anti-aging ingredients packed into ”2 The Kline Group believes “that the global anti-aging phenomenon has been the key driving force behind the enormous growth in the skin care segment in recent years, which in turn has led to the development of a plethora of innovative chemicals, including a virtual smorgasbord of Peptides for skincare innovators to choose from”.3
Others define Peptides in much more
simplistic ways. Peptides function as messengers in the skin, allowing the epidermis and dermis to communicate more efficiently. This is important, because one of the key effects of aging is reduced communication within the skin, resulting in decreased collagen production and an aggregation of degraded elastin fibers. Decreased collagen production (less supportive, firming fibers), coupled with degraded elastin (diminished skin elasticity and flexibility) combine exponentially to produce classic visible signs of aging; including thinner skin, fine and deep wrinkles, sagging and flaccidity and overall loss of skin ‘tone’.So, how do peptides work to correct these aging symptoms? There are twenty different amino acids in the human body and these acids can form in a variety of different combinations and sequences (just like the letters in words and sentences). When a chain of amino acids is over fifty acids long, it is normally called a protein, however when a chain contains less than 50 amino acids, it is considered a peptide. So, a peptide is really a ‘portion’, or a ‘building block’ of a protein. An abbreviated protein of sorts!
The great news is that these ‘mini or abbreviated proteins’ (Peptides) can be created in lab to be highly active, influential molecules, which can direct the cells in our body to take specific actions. While there are many different types of peptides, those that are used in skincare are synthetically engineered to enter the cells of the skin and remain intact. Once in the skin, they are able to communicate and direct the skin cells to behave in a certain way. For example, they can direct the cells to produce new healthy collagen and/or elastin fibers…causing the epidermis to appear thicker, smoother and younger! This helps to explain why Peptide Technology is ultra desirable and can command significantly higher prices, when embedded into your standard anti-aging formulations.
Current research indicates that the popularity of Peptides is due in part, to the fact that these molecules can be “tinkered with” or “customized” fairly easily. For example, there are several Peptides out there that have been designed to ‘tell’ the skin to produce more collagen and hyaluronic acid. The most famous of the anti-aging Peptides is one with an INCI name of Palmitoyl Pentapeptide; but commonly known as Matrixyl. Originally
developed for use on stretch marks, Matrixyl has also been used to promote more rapid healing of skin wounds. Manufacturers of formulas containing this Peptide claim statistically significant improvements in the reduction of deep wrinkles and the disappearance of small and fine wrinkles.
Then there are the peptides which are positioned as topical alternatives to Botox™. Consider Acetyl Hexapeptide (INCI), which many know as Argireline. By claiming to relax certain types of facial wrinkles by blocking the release of neurotransmitters, this trendy anti-aging Peptide has spearheaded the development of an entirely new category of Peptides known as “Neuropeptides”. A clinical study published in
the International Journal of Cosmetic Science reported that when used at a 10% concentration level, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 actually reduced wrinkle depth by up to 30 percent—after 30 days of continuous use. And to top that off, there is clinical evidence that this small Peptide may even deter wrinkles from forming in the first place! Imagine that! While not Botox™ by any stretch of the imagination, one must admit that this designer chemical can be viewed as a formidable opponent to our most obvious sign of aging: The Wrinkle!
But, let’s not stop there… Excited chemists decided to offer Argireline a synergistic soul mate (of sorts) to partner with on tough anti-aging jobs.
Hence, the birth of Leuphasyl®, or Pentapeptide-3 (INCI). Working hand-in-peptide with Argireline, the two custom chemicals collaborate perfectly to reduce the depth of wrinkles on the face, especially in the forehead area and around the eyes, where we need it the most.
Speaking of necessity… collective need and strong global market demand remain the mothers of invention for the skincare industry. Concerns by millions of image conscious Baby Boomers and Post-Boomers, (as well as a solid segment of Generation X’ers seeking precautionary anti-aging treatments) led Cosmetic Researchers to design yet another highly specialized peptide known as Hexapeptide-10 (INCI). This breakthrough Peptide was engineered to improve cell adhesion and as a result, reduce the loss of skin firmness (sagging). Also known as ‘Serilesine’ this Peptide multi-tasks effectively, to concurrently reduce dryness and yellowing of skin tone.
Peptide research is advancing at breathtaking speed. Few doubt that these highly specialized synthetic proteins will cease to be the ‘it factor’ of cosmetic compounding any time soon. Industry insiders predict that a virtual parade of these lab-engineered genies will continue to inspire, enrich an influence the thinking and methodologies of skincare manufacturers for decades to come.
Consider the possibilities… While today, cutting-edge, anti-wrinkle Peptides like (Syn®-Ake) are lab-engineered to mimic the effects of Viper Snakes… the Peptides of the future could have even broader and considerably more inventive applications.
In fact, researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are currently in the early stages of work on a new Peptide-based technology to replace dermal filler injections and cosmetic surgery procedures. They believe that an injectable peptide could be created to induce growth of fat under the skin. This would allow us to literally plump-up our own aging skin with the body’s own fat, indigenous to the skin itself!4
And what, you may ask; does the scientific community really think about this explosive technology that has gracefully commandeered centre stage over the past decade?
At G.S. Cosmeceutical, a San Francisco Bay Area custom-contract- manufacturer of skincare and other cosmeceutical products, Owner and Chief Science Officer Gogi Sangha weighs in on the subject, pondering the timeless connection and inherent synergism between beauty and science, stating: “We live in a world where physical appearance matters. From the onset of history, humans have used natural materials to maintain their looks. Now, in modern times, we have turned to science to help us appear beautiful. Science has helped us to understand the skin, its functions and its chemistry. Now, we are using that same science to create specific molecules which, in turn, will help us achieve well defined beauty goals. Peptide technology is an example of a highly targeted science, one in which we use carefully selected molecules to perform very specialized functions, to impact our external beauty. In the near future, we can expect to see truly significant breakthrough’s in the areas of science and beauty, as a result of Peptide technology.”
As we advance toward the next decade of the new millennium, I can’t help but wonder… If history holds true, there will be a new breed of skincare advancements and superstar technologies over the next ten years. Are we due to enter the new decade in 2010 with a yet-to-be-discovered innovation taking ‘the cameo’ or will we simply be mesmerized by the release of more exotic Peptide molecules, offering even more amazing claims? No one really knows. But there is one undeniable truth that we can all agree upon. What was once the “Pepsi Generation”, has now become the “Peptide Generation”. And the world is surely a more beautiful place for it, after all.
- CosmeticDesign.com: Katie Bird, March 24, 2009 Issue
- CosmeticDesign.com; Simon Pittman, June 17, 2009 Issue
- CosmeticDesign.com; Simon Pittman, June 17, 2009 Issue
- CosmeticDesign.com; Katie Bird, March 4, 2009 Issue