Photo by Zoltan Tasi
Right up there with vitamin C and retinol, peptides have become extremely popular in skin care over the last decade -- and there’s quite a bit of exciting research that suggests they might have incredible anti-aging effects. But did you know certain peptides have also been proven to help with hair growth?
If you’ve been noticing increased hair loss or even sparseness in your brows and lashes, pay attention, because our favorite peptides might be the added boost you need to keep those precious strands of hair in place.
When selecting products that can naturally support the hair, our focus is usually on stimulating and bioactive ingredients that will help hair regrow, but peptides like oligopeptide-2 and acetyl tetrapeptide-3 are just as important for anchoring existing hairs into place.
What Are Peptides (and What Do They Do in the Body)?
Peptides are compounds composed of amino acids bound together by a ‘peptide’ bond. Amino acids are the same kind of compound that proteins are made of, with the main difference between proteins and peptides being that peptides are smaller. You can think of peptides as the building blocks of proteins. The name of a peptide tells you how long it is, so a dipeptide has two amino acids, a tripeptide has three amino acids, and so on.
Peptides occur naturally in nearly every tissue of the human body, and we can also get them in our diet through fermented foods like yogurt, tofu, and pickles. They are often formed when protein breaks down, and can act like little messengers that signal different things in the body and trigger various important mechanisms. How they behave and what they signal depends on the kinds of amino acids they are made up of, so the term “peptide” actually refers to an incredibly broad category of compounds. In the body they can trigger muscle development and anti-inflammatory responses, and most critical to our interests: they can impact the hair.
How Do Peptides Influence Hair?
As we explained, there is a very wide range of peptides out there with different effects. Some can help make the skin look more youthful when used in creams while others can be consumed as a means to aid muscle growth. Then there are the peptides that can help the hair look lush and dense.
Our hair follicles produce hair through a complex process that relies on interactions between hormones, immune cells, and neuropeptides, so different peptides can affect it in different ways, by acting as cell-signaling agents, aiding in growth and protein production, and by supporting the hair follicles.
Proven Peptide #1: Oligopeptide-2
The first peptide with remarkable effects on the hair is oligopeptide-2, which is also known as insulin-like growth factor-1 or IGF-1. Normally, the human body produces IGF-1 on its own since it has a variety of functions in the human body.
One of its functions is promoting hair growth, by acting as a cell-signaling agent that affects the hair follicles. If you’re experiencing hormonal hair loss and find that the typical solution of applying DHT-blockers doesn’t work, it can be a sign that the real issue is lack of natural IGF-1. This is when topical application of oligopeptide-2 may help, since when formulated in a way that can penetrate, this incredible peptide has been shown to increase hair density.
Proven Peptide #2: Acetyl Tetrapetide-3
Research shows that a particular biomimetic peptide called acetyl tetrapetide-3 is the best when it comes to supporting the hair follicles and aiding with hair retention.
Acetyl tetrapetide-3 is based on the signal peptide that acts as one of the building blocks of the proteins like collagen and fibrin which makes up the extracellular matrix (i.e. ECM), which is the connective network that supports cells. It’s a peptide that the body normally secretes to aid in tissue regeneration and wound healing, but surprisingly, it is also highly beneficial for the hair follicles.
This peptide has been researched carefully, with both in-vivo and in-vitro studies that show its effects. When applied topically, acetyl tetrapeptide-3 stimulates type III and type VII collagen and laminins, which maintains the ECM to support hair growth. In other words, it turns the follicles into better anchors by strengthening the protein-based matrix that surrounds them. This is especially important for the brows and lashes where even a little bit of hair loss can be very noticeable.
In other words, acetyl tetrapeptide-3 helps to support the hair follicles so they are in a healthier position to hold on to as well as build hair. This peptide alone likely won’t have a major impact on pattern hair loss, but it can absolutely help with hair loss caused by trauma or follicle inflammation. However, it is proven to be most effective when used in combination with the DHT-inhibitor red clover extract, resulting in an increase in hair growth.
Products with Peptides
At Vegamour, we understand that these hair-loving peptides are of no use if they can’t actually find their way down into the dermal papillae and hair follicles, which is why all of our peptide-enriched products are formulated with a variety of penetration-enhancing ingredients that ensure maximum benefit to your hair follicles.
Since lack of the peptide IGF-1 most commonly impacts the head hair, we’ve formulated both our Gro+ Advanced Hair Serum and our Gro Advanced Serum with a healthy dose of oligopeptide-2. We added curcummin to the blend, since research has shown it can increase IGF-1 delivery to the dermal papillae. The formula also contains a variety of soothing agents to put the scalp in a healthy state along with natural DHT-blockers that help address other potential causes of hair loss.
In our Lash and Brow Volumizing Serums, our peptide of choice was acetyl tetrapeptide-3, thanks to its ability to keep precious hairs in place as an anchor, as well as because of its synergistic effects with the DHT-inhibitor red clover extract. In our Gro+ Advanced Brow Serum and Advanced Lash Serum we boosted the same combination with full-spectrum hemp extract, which gives added soothing effects.
Whether it’s the hair on your head or your brows and lashes, peptides are the building blocks that can help those hairs grow strong, so don’t miss out on their benefits!