What Works Best For Anti-Aging? – Beautiful With Brains

Ever wondered what the best types of peptides for anti-aging are?

After all, the world of peptides is a minefield. There are like 100 out there. They all promise to get rid of your wrinkles, firm your skin and take 10 years off your face. But not all of them deliver.

How the heck are you supposed to make sense of all this nonsense and choose the best types of peptides for you?! The ones that really work and give you real results?

Don’t worry. I’ve done the work for you. Here’s a quick guide to the most common types of peptides used in skincare and which ones you should use:

What Are Peptides?

Peptides are short strings of amino acids. FIY, amino acids are the building blocks of protein, like collagen and elastin (the stuff that keeps your skin firm and elastic). Some peptides occur naturally in your body. Others are made synthetically in a lab to mimic the jobs of natural peptides. There are different types of peptides, each of them with a different function. Let’s take a look at the main peptide categories.

Related: The Truth About Peptides In Skincare: Do They Really Work?

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):

Type Of Peptides

There are 4 different types of peptides used in skincare. Let’s get to know them better below:

1. Carrier Peptides


Copper peptides (my fave types of peptides) and X-50 Myocept.


They deliver trace elements, like copper and magnesium, to the skin. These trace elements boost collagen synthesis, improve elasticity and help skin heal faster. The more collagen and elastin your skin has, the fewer wrinkles it develops – and those that do aren’t as deep.

There are also a few scientific studies that say copper peptides produce more collagen than vitamins A (retinoids) and C, two of the most powerful anti-aging superheroes ever. Plus, by keeping skin in a constant state of repair, these peptides ensure your skin always looks and feels its best.


Once a day in the evening, right after cleansing. I like to use mine with retinoids because it soothes any potential irritation and helps your skin better tolerate them. Just don’t use them at the same time as Vitamin C – they don’t mix well together.


If you have facial hair, copper peptides may make it overgrow…


Yes! While I’m not a huge fan of peptides, copper peptides are proven to work and will give you better skin than if you don’t use them.


  • Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream ($68.00): This cream contains every peptide you can think of. Its lightweight texture absorbs quickly, moisturises deeply, and plumps up fine lines and wrinkles, so they look smaller. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
  • NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 3:1 (£38.00): Unlike the old versions of this serums, you don’t have to mix it yourself. It works out of the box and keeps skin in a constant state of repair, making sure everything works as it should. The result? Your best skin day, every day. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Niod, and SpaceNK
  • The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1% (£28.90): An affordable serum that contains every peptide you can think of. It doesn’t work as well as the other products in this list, but if you’re on a budget, it’ll do. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, The Ordinary, and Ulta

Related: Are Copper Peptides Better Than Retinoids At Firming Skin?

the ordinary buffet + copper peptides 1% 02

2. Enzyme Inhibitor Peptides


Trifluoroacetyl tripeptide-2, Trylagen


They stop the processes that break down collagen so your skin doesn’t age as quickly. Most of them work by inhibiting matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), a group of enzymes that degrades collagen when they proliferate too much. Collagen keeps skin from saggy and forming wrinkles, so the more your skin can retain, the better.

Keep in mind, these claims come from the manufacturer. The company that makes Trifluoroacetyl Tripeptide-2 claims it “can bring back cell activity to a 20-year-old young cell level and the ingredient can nicely increase skin elasticity, firmness and reduce skin-sagging.” Their in-vivo study shows that 2% can “lift the sagging jaw-line by up to 10% in 56 days and improve skin elasticity and firmness by about 20% in 28 days.”


You can use them up to twice a day, morning and evening, after cleansing and exfoliation.


None – unless you’re allergic to them.


It’s up to you. So far, the only proof they work comes from the manufacturer. But if you’re cool with that and want to be among the first to try them, give them a go.


  • NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 3:1 (£38.00): Unlike the old versions of this serums, you don’t have to mix it yourself. It works out of the box and keeps skin in a constant state of repair, making sure everything works as it should. The result? Your best skin day, every day. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Niod, and SpaceNK
  • Revision Skincare Revox 7 ($150.00): An oil-free serum loaded with peptides to prevent the signs of premature aging. Available at Dermstore
  • Zelens Youth Intelligence Age-Defying Serum (£125.00): A lightweight anti-aging serum loaded with peptides and antioxidants to prevent and fight wrinkles. Available at Cult Beauty and Look Fantastic.

medik8 liquid peptides 02

3. Neurotrasmitter Peptides


Argireline, Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-28, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, Syn-Ake, XEP-30


They’re called Botox in a jar because they work in the same way. Or better, the idea behind them is the same. They inhibit muscle contraction. If your muscles can’t move as much, wrinkles can’t form. Those you already have relax so they don’t look as obvious. The catch? They only work on expression lines, not wrinkles caused by sun exposure, pollution, etc.

A study published by the International Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2002 shows that a cream with 10% Argireline (way more than the amount usually used in skincare products) applied “on healthy women volunteers reduced wrinkle depth up to 30% upon 30 days treatment”. Most products don’t contain that much…

I’ve only found one independent (non done by the manufacturer) study on Syn-Ake. For this 2009 study, 37 women with “mild-to-moderate, fine and coarse periocular and perioral wrinkles” used a cream with “multiple growth factors, antioxidants, and a collagen-building peptide [Syn-Ake]” twice a day for 3 months. The results?

“The early onset of efficacy observed within minutes of application suggests that this unique combination of HA filling spheres and a muscle contraction-inhibiting peptide may work synergistically to promote rapid reductions in wrinkle appearance. The ability of HA to attract and retain moisture may contribute to the observed smoothing effect on lines and wrinkles. […]

Translation: Syn-Ake may have contributed to a reduction in wrinkles but the creams contains so many other goodies, such as Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid, we don’t know who’s really to thank for the benefits here. 


Morning and evening, after your anti-aging serums but before moisturiser.


They don’t work that well. These peptides are very bad at penetrating skin, so they never reach deep enough to affect your muscles. Argireline, for example, has been proven to work only for women with thin skin. So if you’re still young and your skin has plenty of collagen, save your money.


No. They don’t work as well as Botox. You’ll only see minimal results – and even then, only if you have very thin skin.


  • NIOD Fractionated Eye Contour Concentrate ($70.00): It contains every peptide under the sun, plus anti-inflammatory and hydrating ingredients to reduce the look of crow’s feet and plump them up. Available at Beauty Bay, Niod, SpaceNK.
  • StriVectin High-Potency Wrinkle Filler ($59.00): This wrinkle filler uses humectants to plump up wrinkles so they look smaller, film formers to tighten wrinkles, and Syn-Ake to “freeze” them. The effect is temporary, but it gets the job done quickly. Available at Dermstore.
  • The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1% (£29.80): This serum contains pretty much every peptide under the sun at the most affordable price you’ll ever get. Even if Syn-Ake doesn’t work, copper peptides will keep your skin in a constant state of repair and looking its best. Available at Cult Beauty, Stylevana, The Ordinary, and Ulta.

Related: Is Argireline An Effective Alternative To Botox?

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4. Signal Peptides


Copper peptides, Matrixyl-3000, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide-7, etc.


They signal to skin cells to do a particular job, i.e. stimulate the production of collagen, elastin or other proteins your skin needs to stay healthy and young. This allows peptides to work even without penetrating skin (they’re too big to do that well).

In a small human study with 24 volunteers, Matrixyl 3000, for example worked much better than the placebo treatment and Matrixy. Here are the results after 2 months of daily use:

  • 14% reduction in skin roughness
  • 15% reduction in wrinkle depth 
  • 15% increase in skin tone
  • 18% reduction in wrinkle volume 
  • 37% reduction in wrinkle density

Too bad this study comes from the manufacturer. Still, it’s promising.


Morning and/or evening, after other anti-aging serums but before moisturiser.


I’m on the fence. There’s some proof they work (especially copper peptides and Matrixyl 3000). But they don’t work as well as retinoids. So if you need to choose, opt for retinoids. Peptides are a nice to have, not a must-have.


  • Boots No7 Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex Night Concentrate ($39.99): A retinol serum with Matrixyl 3000 to firm skin and reduce wrinkles. Available at Boots and Ulta.
  • The Ordinary Matrixyl 10% + HA ($11.50): A simple Matrixyl 3000 serum enriched with Hyaluronic Acid to plump up and hydrate skin. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Sephora, The Ordinary and Ulta.
  • Timeless Matrixyl ®️ 3000 Serum ($25.95): A no-frills Matrixyl 3000 serum enriched with hydrating hyaluronic acid and soothing aloe vera. Available at Yes Style.

Related: Matrixyl 3000: A New And Improved Version Of Matrixyl?

niod copper amino isolate serum 2 1

Do Peptides Work?

This is where it starts to get tricky.

In theory, peptides are too big to penetrate your skin so they shouldn’t work.

In practice, studies show that some peptides do have an effect on the skin, help boost collagen and firm skin. Problem is, most of these studies are done by the companies who sell peptides so you have to take them with a pinch of salt.

Some of the most promising peptides (i.e. those that have more studies backing up their efficacy) are GHK-Cu, a copper peptide that can firm skin; Palmitoyl Pentapeptide, which boosts collagen and Argireline, which works sort of like Botox.

There’s another problem. Cosmetics can only improve the appearance of your skin, not interfere with processes that boost collagen or elastin. Anything that can do that is a drug.

Drugs need to be tested way more thoroughly than cosmetics – just to make sure they don’t have any nasty side effects in the long run. But that’s so expensive, companies don’t bother.

Instead, they exploit a loophole. You can put drugs in cosmetics as long as you claim they only improve the appearance of your skin. I’m not joking. Whether something is a drug or a cosmetics, depends on the claims a company makes about an ingredient, not what an ingredient really does. You can’t make this stuff up.

Related: What’s The Difference Between A Cosmetic And A Drug?

Paula's Choice peptide booster

Which Are The Best Types Of Peptides For You?

Some peptides have a small amount of independent research supporting their effectiveness. For others, you have to take the manufacturer’s word they do what they claim.

So, what’s a girl to do?

For the time being, I honestly wouldn’t bother much with peptides. If you’ve got all your bases covered, are already using your fair share of anti aging superstars really proven to work and money isn’t a concern, then go ahead and use them. But they’re by no means a must-have.

If you want to go ahead and use peptides, stick to signalling peptides, including copper peptides. I’m partial to NIOD CAIS because I’ve used it in the past and got good results and The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1% because you get several peptides at a steal.

I wouldn’t bother with enzyme inhibitors peptides (simply because they tend to be way more expensive) and neurotransmitters peptides. They may work a little but if they really were an alternative to Botox, no one would have a wrinkled forehead anymore.

The Bottom Line

There you have it, the best types of peptides used in skincare. Peptides shouldn’t work but they sort of do (some of them, at least). I recommend sticking to signal and carrier peptides for now to get the most out of your buck.

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