What are peptides in skincare?
What are peptides in skincare?

Peptides have been heralded as the new wonder ingredient in skincare, joining the likes of retinol and hyaluronic acid in the anti-ageing hall of fame – but what do they actually do? And why should you add them to your skincare routine?


Let’s take it right back to basics: read on for our beginner’s guide to the skincare ingredient the experts are raving about.


What are peptides in skincare?

Peptides are short chains of amino acids that are considered the building blocks of essential proteins like collagen, elastin and keratin – the proteins linked to skin tone, texture and elasticity. There are many types of peptides, but the most prominent peptides in skincare are signalling peptides, which help to maximise the production of essential proteins like collagen and elastin in the skin, and carrier peptides which carry trace elements and enzymes to help heal the skin and aid protein production. 


What do peptides do?

“Peptides are vital in helping increase skin’s natural collagen and elastin production, which play a critical role in helping skin look smoother, less lined and more lifted,” says Dr. Tom Mammone, Clinique’s Vice President of Skin Physiology and Pharmacology. Applied topically, peptides are believed to help rejuvenate the skin and stimulate production of proteins, strengthening the skin’s dermal matrix. This helps to smooth the look of lines and wrinkles for skin that looks and feels firmer and more resilient. Designed with a panel of scientists and our consulting dermatologists, the Clinique Smart Clinical Repair™ range harnesses the power of peptides and other anti-ageing actives to help support the skin’s youthful appearance.



What are the benefits of peptides?

Though they are often associated with anti-ageing, there are many benefits of peptides for skin. As well as helping to plump the skin and reduce the look of lines and wrinkles, peptides can also help to strengthen the skin barrier and soothe irritation and inflammation. Whatever your skin goals, it’s worth finding a moisturiser that combines peptides with hydrating actives like hyaluronic acid, such as Smart Clinical Repair™ Wrinkle Correcting Cream. Developed by dermatologists, the formula is super concentrated with anti-ageing technologies and a peptide-rich complex to help fortify the skin. Skin feels stronger and looks smoother, while hyaluronic acid plumps skin with lasting hydration.


Can you use peptides with retinol or retinoids?

Peptides work well alongside other skincare actives such as niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, AHAs and, for anti-ageing, retinoids. When used correctly, these two all-star ingredients are the ultimate anti-ageing power pairing. Though they have somewhat similar benefits, they work in different ways on the skin, which minimises the potential risk of irritation, particularly in a gentle formula like Smart Clinical Repair™ Wrinkle Correcting Serum. Enriched with peptides and a potent retinoid, our dermatologist-developed formula is powered by anti-ageing technologies designed to help retain the skin’s youthful appearance. Our bestselling serum harnesses the power of three brilliant technologies – peptides, retinoids and hyaluronic acid – in a super gentle, targeted formula that’s suitable for all skin types and twice daily use. Formulated for maximum results with minimal irritation, it’s a great introduction to both peptides and retinoids.


Are peptides safe for daily use?

Peptides are considered safe and effective for daily use and all skin types, including sensitive skin. For best results, you should apply a peptide serum, moisturiser and eye cream twice a day as part of your morning and nighttime skincare routine.


When should I use peptides?

When it comes to application, our top tip is to choose a leave-on formulation like a serum, moisturiser or eye cream. This ensures there’s enough time for the formula to sink into the skin and get to work. Always start by thoroughly cleansing skin and exfoliating with your usual Clarifying Lotion to help prep and prime skin for actives. Next, pat our Smart Clinical Repair™ peptide serum into skin, before following with Smart Clinical Repair™ peptide moisturiser and Smart Clinical Repair™ peptide eye cream.

Want to know more about peptides or anti-ageing skincare? Book in for an expert-led Skin School consultation, where you’ll get a customised routine plus helpful tips and tricks to help you unlock your best skin yet.

Words by Shona Wallace, April 2023.