Do collagen peptides absorb into the skin?

Klara in the laboratory of Bio-Mimetic Cosmetics

Polar water-loving molecules, like peptides, cannot go through the epidermis; the water repellent protective upper layer of the skin. These molecules have to be hidden and trapped in phospholipid micelles similar to the cell membrane. These micelles are very small and have hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-repellent) portions. The peptides are either chemically modified by adding a hydrophobic long alkyl chain (palmitoyl peptides) to enhance absorption or otherwise spread on the skin surface. The situation is very similar to the intestinal absorption of the nutrient. The body produces phosphatidylcholine and taurocholate micelles to help the absorption of important polar nutrients. “Bio-Mimetic Cosmetics”, a registered trademark technology, has been developed to mimic the biological absorption and enhance the skin absorption of peptides, hyaluronic acid and polar water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Panthenol (Vitamin B5). In this way, the concentration of these compounds can be increased in the dermis, where the new skin cell production occurs. We use these micelles incorporated in double emulsions during the preparation of Klara’s skincare products.

Klara was trained as a pharmacist and prepared prescription cosmetics in Hungary nearly 50 years ago. After her PhD and working in drug discovery as a research scientist, she published books about measuring the properties of molecules and predicting how they will distribute in the body. Will they absorb orally and go to the brain or inside the cell? She also worked on topical administration of therapeutics, developing models for skin absorption. After retirement, she worked on peptide therapeutics as a consultant to an American company that patented their peptides to cure motoneuron degeneration, ALS. However, these peptides had to be administered intravenously as they decomposed in the acidic pH of the stomach. Then the idea came to put these into hand creams, so the peptides are absorbed and regenerate the motoneuron cells usually affected in the hands by the disease. This led to the development of anti-wrinkle and anti-ageing creams that contain hydrolyzed collagen peptides. Collagen is an interesting material; it contains three repeated amino acids in large molecules, curling up and forming a molecular spring. Collagen provides the skin’s elasticity, and it makes up 70% of the dermis.

The bio-mimetic micelles were invented, and collagen peptides and hyaluronic acid were trapped in the micelles, but we needed to put these micelles in a formulation, cream or serum. An emollient base formula was developed using naturally derived cold-pressed plant oils containing anti-oxidants and other anti-ageing skin protective materials to get through the hydrophobic epidermis. It is also essential to prepare the skin by cleansing, firming, and supplying vitamins. Klara’s micellar water has been developed that cleanses, firms and brightens the skin with vitamin C and cucumber extract.

We had to add anti-inflammatory botanical ingredients too. Klara enrolled in Formula Botanica courses to learn advanced formulation techniques using botanical and natural ingredients. It was also hard to preserve the peptide-rich formula, which provides an excellent source of nutrients for bacteria too. It was a new experience for Klara, who is an honorary professor at UCL School of Pharmacy, to become a student again and learn the trick of botanical skincare formulations. She was as nervous before the exams as her students, and at age 68, she passed the exams with distinctions.

She has been using her products for the past three years and looks much younger than before, and she would like to share the results of 40 years of research experience with everybody who would like to look younger for longer. Even if we cannot reverse ageing, we can slow down and reduce the sign of ageing with a regular skincare routine and by providing the nutrients to the skin where they are needed most.

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