Polypeptides & Collagen Enhancement
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and makes up the majority of in the skin’s dermal layer composition, so maintaining and enhancing it is of tremendous importance. It forms a very dense network with other collagen fibers to keep the skin tight, firm, and to ready to bounce back when facial muscles contract (from laughing, squinting, etc.). Unfortunately, as we age our skin’s collagen network breaks down at an alarming rate, resulting in wrinkles and sagging. This is because of the increasing number of assaults to the collagen network as years progress (such as from free radicals and the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products), which directly causes the skin to look less firm and older.
Just in recent years have studies finally confirmed the power of certain topical compounds to stimulate the skin’s own synthesis of collagen. These discoveries have been some of the greatest to come out of the anti-aging field since the validation of the positive role of antioxidants in skincare. While supplementing the skin with antioxidants helps protect collagen structures, antioxidants themselves can’t repair them (i.e. antioxidants protect collagen but the skin itself must regenerate individual collagen fibers to strengthen the overall network). So to actually rejuvenate the skin’s collagen network back to a more youthful state we must use compounds that directly stimulate the formation of new collagen fibers.
Probably the most effective of these substances are “polypeptides” (also known as “amino-peptides”). Polypeptides refer to specific amino acid chains that are actually fragmented strands of proteins (amino acids) that naturally make up certain types of collagen in the skin. Because collagen itself is too large of a molecule to be absorbed when applied topically these smaller factions are used so that they can penetrate the skin then act as building blocks in rebuilding the collagen network (and even more importantly lock into certain protein receptor sites on cells to send chemical messages to your DNA to increase collagen production).
The “poly” in polypeptides comes from the varying forms they can be supplied in. For instance, Dipeptides, Tripeptides, Pentapeptides, Oligopeptides, and Tetrapeptides are just a few that clinical studies have shown can act in stimulating the formation of new collagen fibers. More specifically, they each stimulate the production of different types of collagen in the skin to create a more holistic network that is naturally balanced (instead of just stimulating the production of one individual type of collagen) These are probably the most exciting compounds in skincare right now, but because of their expense they are typically only found in a select few high-end products (in any sufficient concentration at least), and even then usually just one or two forms (instead of the broader peptide spectrum).