Peptide Squad

How to select a peptide serum that makes a real difference

Posted by Team Maelove on

Peptides are the new buzzwords on the face of numerous serums, each claiming transformative benefits. How do you decide if they will do something for you?

For those of you new here, my name is Jackie and I’m the CEO and Chief Product Obsessor at Maelove. Today, I’m going to share essential insights into peptides - the same insights we used to formulate our own Peptide Squad collagen renewal serum.

Let’s unravel the so-called “magic” of peptides. This is a quick guide. For those of you who want to go deeper, we also have a “deep science” newsletter that does just that.


Peptide products can be hydrating and anti-aging

Peptides are good humectants which means they are good at attracting water and holding onto it. A subset of peptides also help reduce wrinkles. Depending on the peptides included, a peptide serum can either be hydrating or both hydrating and anti-aging.

If you want anti-aging benefits, then look for peptides that fight wrinkles in one of four ways.

The first way is by stimulating the production of collagen. Peptides that do this are called signal peptides. Collagen fibers are like tent poles that give your skin structure. As you age, you lose collagen. By stimulating the production of more collagen, signal peptides help fight wrinkles.

The second way is by reducing muscle activity in your face. Peptides that do this are unofficially called botox-like peptides but the official name is neurotransmitter inhibiting peptides.

The third way is by delivering trace minerals such as copper to your skin. Copper is necessary in the formation of mature collagen fibers. Often referred to as copper peptides, the scientific class for these is carrier peptides.

The fourth way is by inhibiting enzymes that break down collagen. Peptides that do this are called enzyme inhibitor peptides.

Signal peptides, neurotransmitter inhibiting peptides, carrier peptides, and enzyme inhibitor peptides are the four classes of anti-aging peptides. Our Peptide Squad serum is unique in that it combines all four classes of anti-aging peptides into one serum.


Peptides are mini-proteins. Some are much more validated than others

The word “peptide” basically means mini-protein. If you chop up a protein into smaller pieces, you get peptides.

Now imagine if you asked someone what they were having for dinner and they answered back “proteins.” That would be pretty uninformative right? The same is true for peptide serums. It’s not an informative moniker.

So unless you look at the specifics, you won’t know much about a peptide serum. In addition to hydrating peptides, there are more than 50 different anti-aging peptides found in various products on the market today.

That’s where we come in. We researched every single one of them so you don’t have to.

The vast majority of peptides have no scientific backing except for a few studies conducted by the company that sells that particular peptide. We don’t think it worth your while to bother with these minimally studied peptides.

Rather, stick with the peptides that are the most validated with a long history of unbiased scientific study by hospitals and universities. The ones that are best studied are also likely the ones naturally found in the skin and so are less likely to have unknown negative effects.


Stick with the most validated peptides within each class.

In each class, there are standout peptides that are the most validated. For more detail on all the scientific studies, check out the deep guide (link here).

For signal peptides, the best in class is Matrixyl 3000 which contains two peptides, pal-GHK also known as palmitoyl tripeptide-1 and pal-GQPR or palmitoyl tripeptide-7. GHK was first isolated in blood plasma way back in 1973 (Pickart and Thaler 1973) and its collagen stimulating properties were first described in 1985 (Maquart et al. 1999). It has been safely used in skincare products for decades (Pickart and Margolina 2018). GQPR synergistically boosts the collagen stimulating properties of GHK and the combination of the two in Matrixyl 3000 has performed well in multiple placebo-controlled trials in both men and women to reduce wrinkle depth and volume (US patent 2004/0132667 A1, Sederma Matrixyl 3000).

For neurotransmitter inhibitor peptides, the best in class is Argireline also known as acetyl hexapeptide-8 or acetyl hexapeptide-3. Multiple studies show Argireline can reduce expression lines (Lipotec Argireline, Blanes-Mira et al. 2002, Tadini et al. 2015). One study conducted by the National Institutes of Health showed that when compared to placebo, Argireline could extend the length of time that botox injections suppressed muscle activity (Lungu et al. 2013). So even if you get regular botox injections, applying Argireline regularly means you can get botox injections less frequently, saving you time and money.

For carrier peptides, the only copper peptide you should consider is GHK-Cu also known as copper tripeptide-1. GHK-Cu is the natural carrier peptide found in your skin. However, levels decline with aging. Topical GHK-Cu can be absorbed into skin in sufficient quantities and compensate for this decline (Pickart et al. 2015ab). Topical GHK-Cu decreases wrinkle volume to an extent comparable to retinoids in clinical trials (Badenhorst et al. 2016, Abdulghani et al 1998, Leydon et al. 2002). Avoid all others including encapsulated copper peptides also known as Copper Palmitoyl Heptapeptide-14. Not all copper is good copper. With the wrong carrier, copper can cause both damage to cells and inflammation (Li et al. 2016, Pickart et al. 2015b). In your skin, the safe delivery of copper is trusted to GHK-Cu. GHK-Cu is like riding with a chauffeur you have trusted all the years of your life. Whereas, other copper peptides are like hitch-hiking a ride with a stranger. The risk isn’t worth it.

For enzyme inhibitor peptides, both rice and soybean peptides inhibit the enzymes that can break down collagen (Schagen 2017, Ferreira 2020). Further, rice peptides also stimulate production of glycosaminoglycans like hyaluronic acid (Schagen 2017). Particularly in East Asia, rice peptides have been used since ancient times when women in the royal court used rice water to maintain their skin. Rice peptides have been incorporated into popular luxury skincare products in East Asia for decades.

For Peptide Squad, we combined Matrixyl 3000, Argireline, Copper tripeptide-1, and rice peptides.


Tried and true peptides can be anti-inflammatory and antioxidant

Signal and carrier peptides in particular take advantage of natural wound healing mechanisms. Some fear this may lead to inflammation.

As long as you stick to the well studied peptides mentioned earlier, the exact opposite is true.

Both signal peptide GHK and carrier peptide GHK-Cu have been found to be anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Further, GHK-Cu activates genes associated with further antioxidant activity (Pickart et al. 2015ab, Pickart and Margolina 2018).


Four is better than one

Many of the serums on the market contain only one or two classes of anti-aging peptides. In contrast, Peptide Squad combines all four in one bottle. Does it matter?

Here is our view. Serums and creams are not magic. They aren’t plastic surgery. They aren’t injections. They require consistent and prolonged usage to see results from small effects that build up over time. The greater the effect of each application, the faster you will see results and the greater that result will be.

At Maelove, we are known for products that work. The way we achieve that is through synergies. That is when 1 + 1 = 3. The best way to get synergies is to combine ingredients that help a problem but in different ways. Combining all four classes does just that. Each class helps fight wrinkles via a different mechanism.

It would be like trying to get healthier. Maybe you go to yoga class twice a week. You would get good results. But let’s say you also ate more vegetables, lifted weights, and skipped dessert. Which would get you the better result faster? Just the yoga or the yoga combined with these other actions? It’s a no brainer. If you want to get results you can see, you want to attack the problem from many directions.


How should I use peptides in my routine?

Your other best friends in the fight against wrinkles are the Vitamin ABCs of anti-aging: Vitamin A which are retinoids, Vitamin B3 Niacinamide, and Vitamin C.

Both peptides and Vitamins ABC are scientifically proven anti-aging ingredients that help build collagen and fight wrinkles. Additionally, Vitamin C will protect against UV damage, Niacinamide will strengthen the skin barrier, and retinoids thicken skin and increase blood flow. Any one of these is a good addition to your routine, and the best is to use all of the above.

In general, the more you can tackle aging skin from different angles, the better an overall result you will get.

Peptide Squad has you covered for all four classes of peptides as well as Niacinamide. Add Glow Maker serum and you’ve covered Vitamin C. Add Moonlight and you’ve covered retinoids.



Abdulghani AA, Sherr A, Shirin S, Solodkina G, Tapia EM, Wolf B, Gottlieb AB Abdulghani J, Sherr V (1998). “Effects of topical creams containing vitamin C, a copper-binding peptide cream and melatonin compared with tretinoin on the ultrastructure of normal skin – A pilot clinical, histologic, and ultrastructural study.” Dis Manag Clin Out 1(4): 136-141

Badenhorst T, Svirskis D, Merrilees M, Bolke L, Wu Z (2016). “Effects of GHK-Cu on MMP and TIMP Expression, Collagen and Elastin Production, and Facial Wrinkle Parameters.” J Aging Sci 4: 166. Doi:10.4172/2329-8847.1000166.

Blanes-Mira C, Clemente J, Jodas G, Gil A, Fernandez-Ballester G, Ponsati B, Gutierrez L, Perez-Paya E, Ferrer-Montiel A (2002). “A synthetic hexapeptide (Argireline) with antiwrinkle activity.” Int J Cosmet Sci 24(5): 303-310.

Ferreira MS, Magalhaes MC, Sousa-Lobo JM, Almeida IF (2020). “Trending Anti-Aging Peptides.” Cosmetics 7: 91. Doi:10.3390/cosmetics7040091

Leyden JJ, Grove G, Stephens TJ, Finkey MB, Barkovic S, Appa Y (2002). “Skin benefits of copper peptide containing facial cream.” American Academy of Dermatology 60th Annual Meeting, February 22-27, New Orleans, LA.

Li H, Toh PZ, Tan JY, Zin MT Lee CY, Li B, Leolukman M, Bao H, Kang L (2016). “Selected Biomarkers Revealed Potential Skin Toxicity Caused by Certain Copper Compounds.” Scientific Reports 6: 37664. Doi:10.1038/srep37664.

Lipotec, Argireline Fact Sheet

Lungu C, Considine E, Zahir S, Ponsati B, Arrastia S, Hallett M (2013). “Pilot Study of Topical Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 in Treatment of Blepharospasm in Patients Receiving Botulinum Neurotoxin Therapy.” Eur J Neurol. 20(3): 515-518.

Maquart FX, Siméon A, Pasco S, Monboisse JC (1999). “Regulation of cell activity by the extracellular matrix: the concept of matrikines.” J Soc Biol 193: 423–428.

Pickart L, Thaler MM (1973). “Tripeptide in human serum which prolongs survival of normal liver cells and stimulates growth in neoplastic liver.” Nat New Biol 243: 85–87.

Pickart L, Vasquez-Soltero JM, Margolina A (2015a). “GHK Peptide as a Natural Modulator of Multiple Cellular Pathways in Skin Regeneration.” BioMed Research International 648108.

Pickart L, Vasquez-Soltero JM, Margolina A (2015b). “GHK-Cu may prevent oxidative stress in skin by regulating copper and modifying expression of numerous antioxidant genes.” Cosmetics 2: 236-246. Doi:10.3390/cosmetics2030236.

Pickart L, Margolina A (2018). “Regenerative and Protective Actions of the GHK-Cu Peptide in the Light of the New Gene Data.” Int J Mol Sci 19. Doi:10.3390/ijms19071987.

Sederma, Matrixyl 3000 fact sheet.

Schagen SK (2017). “Topical Peptide Treatments with Effective Anti-Aging Results.” Cosmetics 4:16. Doi:10.3390/cosmetics4020016.

Tadini KA, Mercurio DG, Campo PMBGM (2015). “Acetyl hexapeptide-3 in a cosmetic formulation acts on skin mechanical properties – clinical study.” Brazilian J Pharmaceutic Sci 51(4): 901-909.

US patent 2004/0132667 A1. Lintner K (2005). “Compositions containing mixtures of tetrapeptides and tripeptides.”


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