Fine lines, wrinkles, lack of firmness, rough texture…these are very normal things that happen to our skin as we age. If you are noticing any of them on your face and are indifferent to their existence, feel free to stop reading this story and move on with your life. Otherwise, if you’re like me and you want to minimize their appearance, you’re in the right place. Today, we’re talking about all things peptides—an ingredient loved by skincare experts for its ability to smooth, plump, and firm skin without causing irritation. Ahead, everything you need to know about peptides for skin, including how exactly they work and the 15 best peptide skincare products to try right now.
Meet the experts:
- Melissa Doft, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon at Doft Plastic Surgery in New York City who specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive treatments.
- Corey L. Hartman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL.
- Elizabeth Grace Hand is a licensed esthetician and founder of Stalle Studios in New York City.
What do peptides do for skin?
Peptides are made of amino acid chains, the building blocks of protein in our skin, says plastic surgeon Melissa Doft, MD. “These peptides signal your skin to enter repair mode and produce more collagen and elastin—two proteins responsible for keeping skin smooth and firm.” When your skin has more collagen elastin, you’ll see fewer fine lines and wrinkles, smaller looking pores, and a more lifted and contoured appearance. Some peptides also have anti-inflammatory benefits, so they can help calm skin and reduce sensitivity too.
How to choose a peptide skincare product:
Opt for a leave-on product
Skip any products, like cleansers or masks, that get rinsed off (they don’t stay on long enough to penetrate skin and have any positive benefits) and opt for a leave-on product instead. Your best bet: a peptide-filled serum or moisturizer (like a day cream or night cream) that you apply twice daily, says Dr. Doft.
Pair them with retinol
Peptides are great anti-aging ingredients, but they don’t replace retinol (FYI, retinol is the gold standard when it comes to anti-aging). For max skin smoothing and firming results, you’ll want to incorporate both retinol and peptides into your daily routine, says dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, MD. “You can either use these ingredients together at night or use just peptides in the morning and a retinol in the evening.” Also: Pregnant people can’t use retinol, so peptides should 100 percent be used solo in that case.
Don’t forget your eyes
Another great way to incorporate peptides into your daily skincare routine is with a peptide-infused eye product. Retinol, while effective, can be too harsh for the delicate skin around your eye area. Peptides, on the other hand, are a safer choice. Using them in your eye cream or an eye serum can help firm and tighten skin and soften the appearance of crow’s feet and crepey texture without causing irritation.
The best peptide skincare products of 2022:
Keep scrolling for all the entire list of best peptide skincare products plus a quick breakdown on how they work.
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Best Peptide Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Firming Collagen Cream
The ingredients in this cream are a dream for dry, sensitive skin, says Dr. Hartman. “Not only does the formula have peptides and moisturizing ingredients to promote collagen production and hydrate skin, it also contains niacinamide to ease skin irritation and inflammation too,” says Dr. Hartman.
Best Peptide Night Cream
Allies of Skin Retinal and Peptides Repair Night Cream
This night cream is formulated with two powerhouse anti-agers—peptides and retinol, says licensed esthetician Elizabeth Grace Hand. “It’s ideal for plumping and smoothing stressed-out skin, thanks to low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and cloudberry seed oil, which help ease the irritation often associated with retinol.”
Best Peptide Eye Cream
Shani Darden Skin Care Intensive Eye Renewal Cream
Dark circles, wrinkles, crow’s feet…this powerful eye cream can help minimize them all with a blend of peptides, silk tree extracts, squalene, and ceramides. Tap a tiny bit around your entire eye area morning and night for skin that’s smooth, plump, and bright.
Best All-Natural Face Cream With Peptides
Tata Harper Crème Riche Anti-Aging Peptide Night Cream
This natural face moisturizer is a great option for anyone who is into clean, green beauty and wants to improve their skin texture too. “The formula is thick and emollient in a luxurious kind of way,” says Dr. Hartman. “It moisturizes, replenishes, and plumps as it delivers peptides and ceramides into the skin.”
Best Drugstore Face Moisturizer With Peptides
Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide 24 Max Face Moisturizer
Even though this drugstore moisturizer is the least expensive peptide skincare product on the list, it def doesn’t skimp on quality. The rich, fluffy cream is super moisturizing, fragrance-free, and packed with a blend of niacinamide and peptides.
Best Lightweight Moisturizer With Peptides
Eighth Day Reparative Moisturizer
This moisturizer has a super lightweight texture but gives the same amount of hydration as a rich cream, says Hand. “It’s packed with peptides to firm and plump and antioxidants to help protect the skin from UV and blue light damage which contribute to premature aging—plus it leaves skin so silky smooth.”
Best Overall Peptide Serum
Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurfacing Serum
Lactic acid and 11 different peptides in this multitasking face serum from Drunk Elephant help dissolve dulling dead skin cells and boost collagen and elastin levels for skin that’s plump, bouncy, and glowy as hell.
Best Peptide Booster Serum
Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster Serum
The easiest way to add peptides to your existing skincare routine? This customizable booster serum. Use it alone on clean skin or add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer, overnight sleeping mask, leave-on treatment, and even your body lotion before applying them to your face and body.
Best Eye Serum With Peptides
StriVectin Peptight 360˚ Tightening Eye Serum
Eye serums are great for anyone who wants to minimize signs of aging but hates the feelings of thick creams around their eye area. This one from StriVectin is lightweight and fast-absorbing but is still super effective thanks to three different peptides that work together to firm and tighten skin.
Best Peptide Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin
Face Reality Skincare Cran-Peptide Cream
“This is my go-to peptide cream for clients who are breakout-prone,” says Hand. The combination of antibacterial neem, anti-inflammatory witch hazel, and purifying cranberry fruit extract is ideal for people looking to manage acne and redness but also want anti-aging benefits too, says Hands.
Best Depuffing Peptide Eye Cream
Sobel Skin Rx Oligo Peptide Eye Cream
Another solid eye cream option, this one from Sobel Skin is best suited for firming the skin around your eyes and de-puffing under eye bags thanks to skin-tightening peptides, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and soothing cucumber extract.
Best Peptide Face Cream for Dry Skin
Rose Ingleton MD Signature Moisturizer
Dry skin types, this ones for you. In addition to line-smoothing peptides, this moisturizing cream contains ceramides (they’re essential for a healthy skin barrier), nourishing shea butter, and antioxidant-rich niacinamide to keep your skin feeling soft and dewy.
Best Splurge Peptide Serum
Neocutis Bio Serum Firm
This peptide face serum is definitely pricey, but the results are genuinely impressive. The blend of anti-aging peptides and growth factors combined with hydrating sodium hyaluronate visibly smooth lines and rough texture while creating a firming and tightening effect on skin.
Best Everyday Face Moisturizer With Peptides
Ole Henriksen Strength Trainer Peptide Boost Moisturizer
Replace whatever daily moisturizer your currently using with this option from Ole Henriksen and your face will thank you. The vegan, cruelty-free formula instantly melts into skin and is filled with all the good stuff—including plumping peptides, ceramides, and plant-based collagen.
Best Peptide Body Serum
Boscia Peptide Youth-Restore Firming Body Serum
ICYMI peptides aren’t just for your face. This body serum from Boscia combines firming peptides, antioxidant-rich niacinamide, plumping hyaluronic acid, and soothing plant extracts to make your below-the-chin skin super smooth and baby soft.
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