Peptides and Skin Health: An Introduction

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Peptides have become one of the most valuable tools used for skin revision, cancer treatment, immune therapy, antimicrobial for wound healing, and for overall improved health. There are increasingly new advances and research in peptides and their effect on the health of the skin.
With the numerous claims of skin rejuvenation and youthfulness, it is imperative for the professional to understand how peptides are able to provide their clients with healthy skin revision and rejuvenation.
The industry has become very fast-paced using new technology, increased and aggressive marketing plans, unrealistic time-frames resulting in a confusion and disappointment by both the aesthetician and client. Therefore, aestheticians must become educated and understand the health of skin and how it functions both physically and chemically. This article will focus on a general understanding of peptides and how they are an essential contributor to skin health. As a professional aesthetician, the knowledge of how skin functions as an organ and the many factors that contribute to healthy skin are the key markers to success.
Let’s begin with understanding and defining peptides. The American Medical Dictionary defines peptides as, “any member or class of compounds of low molecular weight that yield two or more amino acids on hydrolysis. They are the constituent parts of proteins and are formed by loss of water from the NH2 and COOH groups of adjacent amino acids. Peptides are known as dipeptides, tripeptides, tetrapeptides, and so on, depending upon the number of amino acids in the molecule.”1 Simply stated, a peptide is a chemical bond in the chain of amino acids.
The role of peptides is to assist with communication between cells, signal and assist with the formation of collagen, promote cellular metabolism, repair and enhance natural defense mechanisms by aiding with the healing and inflammation of tissue, and modulate enzymes for melanin production. They are capable of performing millions of tasks within and between cells, providing the aesthetician with their greatest tool to restore healthy, youthful skin, naturally.
The body produces peptides naturally. Some of these are: oxytocin (stimulates contractions);
insulin (regulates blood glucose); bradykinin (inhibits inflammation of tissues); and enkephalins (assists with pain control).2
What factors are needed to produce healthy skin?

  • A functioning acid mantle of a pH range of 4.5 to 5.5
  • A regular and systematic cellular turnover rate of 21 to 28 days
  • A balance of proper melanin production to provide ultraviolet protection
  • A functioning lymphatic and respiratory system for nutrients to enter and waste to exit
  • A strong extra cellular matrix system
  • Balanced production of hyaluronic acid
  • Retention of subcutaneous tissue
  • Functioning Langerhans cells in order to repair and heal wounds
  • An ample supply of elastin, collagen, and glycosaminoglycans production
  • A strong defense to combat foreign intruders
  • An internal natural moisturizing factor

Upon understanding the components of healthy skin, one can quickly determine the many causes for aging skin. A few physiological manifestations may be a reduced rate of cell turnover, decreased structure of the extra cellular matrix, a buildup of toxins, a decline of subcutaneous tissue, slower healing rate of injuries, and an over production of melanin.
If an organ is not functioning correctly, it is logical to first determine the cause and discover the reasons why the cells and tissues are not functioning correctly. For example, one cannot physically see the liver, but will receive messages from the body if it is compromised. These signals or messages can be manifest by symptoms of nausea, jaundice, abdominal swelling, chronic fatigue, and a tendency to bruise easily.3
As the majority of the population seeks healthy, younger skin, peptides provide a natural answer with a realistic time frame.

References
1 “Medical Dictionary.” The Free Dictionary by Farlex. https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/
2 “Amino Acids and Peptides.” Biochemistry. http://www.bioinfo.org.cn/book/biochemistry/chapt05/sim1.html
3 Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.org
4 Barrett-Hill, Florence. Advanced Skin Analysis. Virtual Beauty Corporation, 2004.
5 Barrett-Hill, Florence. Cosmetic Chemistry for the Skin Treatment Therapist. Virtual Beauty Corporation, 2009.

Susan WadeSusan Wade is a licensed aesthetician joining Viktoria De’Ann in 2015 as the director of education and sales after being in the health and education industry for over 18 years. She has a master’s in higher education administration and enjoys sharing her wealth of knowledge with physicians, clinicians, and students nationwide. Wade has a diverse background beyond aesthetics as a college instructor in kinesiology and business and is an owner of a successful sports conditioning business and a nutrition coach. Her passion lies in understanding the complexities of physiology, nutrition, and biology and in educating practitioners on how to incorporate these areas to reach better solutions and successful results with their clients. 

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