Ingredient focus


dark skinned model using a pippette to apply a skin care products

Often eclipsed by the sexier actives (*cough* retinol), here are the reasons you need to give peptides a role in your ritual.

First order of business: what are peptides?

Short chains of amino acids, peptides form the ‘building blocks’ of skin-essential proteins such as collagen, keratin and elastin – in other words, the crucial bits responsible for keeping things resilient. Once these proteins begin to deteriorate – the privilege of growing older – you might start to notice some crêpey-ness, crow’s feet and compromised volume but, peptides can help to extend this inevitable, beautiful process.

When used in skin care, products such as serums or moisturisers with peptides send ‘signals’ to cells which encourage production of collagen and in turn, help to keep your face firmer for longer. They’re also known to act like moisture reservoirs – attracting and retaining precious moisture to promote skin’s ‘spring’ – so, if you’re looking to plump and diminish the look of fine lines (as well as to protect against enviornmental stressors), then peptides are your skin care guys…

Peptides in skin care: your sk-insurance policy.

They say that no (hu)man is an island, and no ingredient is best in isolation. The same applies to peptides which are BFFs with retinol – boosting its time-defying benefits – as well as with hyaluronic acid, where they amplify the plumping and replenishing effects. Results are gradual – these lack the instant ‘wow’ factor of AHAs or retinoids – but as beauty shifts towards a slower, gentler approach to skin health, peptides are rightfully taking up space. The future of your face starts now, so play the long game and review your existing routine: if peptides aren’t in it, they should be.

What are the key benefits of peptides?

Peptides’ benefits are varied and far-reaching when it comes to keeping skin as strong and supple as it can be. They won’t work miracles, but the headline effects are:

Stimulating synthesis of collagen and elastin – the proteins critical to skin’s bounce and ‘stretch’

– Retaining moisture to promote a smooth, dewy-skinned look

– Softening the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles

– Providing antioxidant protection and repair

– Enhancing skin’s barrier function to help reduce redness, reactivity and inflammation

What about copper peptides?

It’s probable you’ve seen these blue-hued peptides lining beauty aisles (it’s hard to miss them). Irresistibly turquoise, copper peptides fall under the ‘carrier peptide’ family – meaning that they deliver trace elements (like copper or magnesium) to further amplify the skin care benefits. Loved for their collagen-boosting abilities, copper peptides work to tone and tighten skin – increasing its firmness and density – as well as to gradually unify tone by brightening dark spots.

three different pepettes of oils

So, where should I start?

We’ve cherry-picked five of our favourite peptide products for a range of different budgets. It’s time to find out what the hype’s all about…

The Ordinary {Multi-Peptide + HA Serum} – £14.30

It’s a case of ‘more the merrier’ when it comes to peptides, and The Ordinary’s {Multi-Peptide + HA Serum} combines the perfect mix to maximise the plumping, firming and replenishing effects.

THE INKEY LIST {Peptide Moisturizer} – £14.99

With a light, gel-crème texture that sinks in to leave your face feeling refreshed and protected, THE INKEY LIST’s {Peptide Moisturizer} dials up the ‘dew’ as it triggers repair and renewal. You should see a tangible difference in 28 days…

BIOSSANCE {Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel} – £42.00

Working to counteract crow’s feet and crêpey-ness, BIOSSANCE’s {Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel} is soothing and cooling – working to fortify delicate skin and diminish dark circles while locking in moisture.

Drunk Elephant {Protini Powerpeptide Resurf Serum} – £71

Refining and retexturising, Drunk Elephant’s {Protini Powerpeptide Resurf Serum} marries peptides with lactic acid, to gently resurface and nourish your skin. A brightening, smoothing and dew-boosting powerhouse, this triggers renewal with its proprietary ‘Signal Peptide Complex’ – a cocktail of 11 signal peptides that initiate creation of the skin-essential scaffolding that keeps things firm and supple.

Allies of Skin {Peptides + Antioxidants Firming Daily Treatment} – £108

On a personal note, I’m obsessed with the {Peptides + Antioxidants Firming Daily Treatment} by one of my favourite brands – {Allies of Skin}. A silky pink potion that swiftly absorbs to leave skin feeling plumped with a ‘spring’ in its step, it also protects against daily aggressors to keep my face safe from the ageing effects of pollution. I love to add a drop of hyaluronic acid, to further enhance the plumping and hydrating benefits – but even on its own, this has a gradual (but tangible) effect; brightening and fortifying skin in one quick step.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...