Dr. Joseph M. Perlman Advanced Plastic Surgery Centre


Skin care products, including cosmetics, are a $5 billion-a-year business in the US. Not only are baby boomers more concerned about looking and feeling younger than their parents, but we are also teaching our children about eating and exercising properly, as well as taking better care of their skin. I remember as a teenager, baby oil and iodine was the leading tanning product!

As we have developed more sophisticated knowledge of how the skin ages, it has allowed us to better understand what we can do to slow down and sometimes even reverse the process. Cosmetic chemists have developed whole new classes of products including antioxidants, cell-repairing complexes, and moisture-retention compounds. Many contain amino acid chains called peptides.

Amino acids are proteins that are essential for cell structure and maintenance. Peptides are being developed to inhibit enzymes, stimulate collagen, reinforce capillaries, increase firmness, and promote hydration.

Hyperpigmentation is a problem that develops as we age. With lifelong exposure to the sun, melanin production is triggered in our skin and produces localized areas of hyperpigmentation such as age spots and melasma. Peptides inhibit the formation of tyrosinase, an enzyme that produces melanin, the pigmentation cell in our skin. Melanostatine is one of the more common lightening peptides. Because of concerns about hydroquinone toxicity in high percentages, many physicians are now looking for alternatives to hydroquinone therapy.

Haloxyl is another peptide found in many eye creams. It strengthens the capillaries and reduces the dark circles under the eyes. Dark circles occur because red blood cells leak through weak capillary walls and deposit hemoglobin, which contains iron, into the tissue of the lower eyelid. Haloxyl also reduces puffiness in the lower eyelids through its anti-inflammatory properties. Another product found in eye serums is Eyeliss, which has similar properties to Haloxyl.

Treating fine lines and wrinkles has also improved with the development of peptides including Dermaxyl, Biopeptide CL, and Argirilene. These peptides stimulate skin cellular damage and results show that it is less inflammatory than retinol and retinoic acid. They also regenerate collagen and have a “plumping effect,” which makes them popular in lip products.

From a preventative standpoint, peptides are being developed to counteract enzymes triggered by UV exposure including cytokine. Rigin controls cytokine production to prevent skin breakdown. It also improves elasticity in the skin and protects it from losing water.

When looking at products for your skin, ask your skin care specialist if they contain peptides. If not, ask for products that do.