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Biomimetics – The Science of Nature.

November 21, 2011

The quest for eternal youth has seen us climb the tallest of swiss mountains for sweet apples and diving the depths of the vastest seas for mineral rich cellulite busters but good as these things are, some people feel like this is all just too much effort.  No, these days the lazy beauty buff is heading to their local lab for a spot of biotechnology!

Biomimetic peptides sound scary  and complex but they need not be and with a little bit of science know-how paired with close observation of nature some amazing things are indeed possible. So let’s take a closer look:

Peptides in Skin Care

Quick Biology Lesson:

Amino Acids come in 22 standard shapes and sizes and these join together to form peptides and proteins.  Amino Acids are critical to many metabolic processes and are essential for our health and vitality. Some are made by the body and others (essential amino acids) can’t and have to be supplied by the diet.

Peptides.  The word peptide comes from the Greek word ‘to digest’ which is appropriate as peptides generally break things down or initiate one reaction or another.   The cosmetics industry have found many jobs for these chemicals including turning off pigment production, up-regulating cell regeneration and stimulating circulation but more about that later. Peptides are bigger than amino acids and are highly specific in their action but they are smaller than Proteins.

Proteins are coiled up chains of peptides and as such they are very large. Their structure can be damaged by heat or pH change so these molecules are quite sensitive. Proteins are very useful in cosmetics where we use them to help maintain a healthy skin structure.

Nature VS Science

The cosmetics industry has been watching the effects of these powerful chemicals on the skin for years and have, over the past few years developed techniques for making nature-identical peptides in the lab.  These ‘laboratory-prepared’ peptides look, feel and act the same as those made naturally in the body. In other words they mimic nature – BIOMIMETIC.  They are usually made using naturally sourced amino acids and are made under very clean and tight manufacturing processes.

So, if they look natural and our bodies can make them why bother buying them?

As we age our biological processes slow down. Coupled with environmental factors such as sun and wind damage our skin processes may slow down way before their time.  Therefore the only way to up-regulate or BOOST the skins rejuvenation processes is to stimulate it by adding or doing something to it.

And can these ingredients work?

There are lots of different biomimetic peptides on the market and while some have brilliantly detailed and thorough clinical trial data to back them up others don’t.  On top of that the ability of the active to work is largely dependent on it reaching the target site in the skin and this comes down to both the skill of the chemist and the practical constraints of the formulation – it has to be cost-effective, feel good and be relatively easy to make and reproduce.

So do they work?

Given the right circumstances YES and you only have to google peptides in cosmetics to see how many brands are using this technology.

So what’s next?

The cosmetics industry is always evolving ways of creating actives that work faster and better than before so who knows but one thing is for sure, the future is probably going to come out of a test tube and I’m all for that.





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