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Peptides vs. Retinol vs. Vitamin C: Which is the Most Effective Ingredient for Wrinkles?

Peptides vs. Retinol vs. Vitamin C: Which is the Most Effective Ingredient for Wrinkles?

    • As you age, your skincare should be packed with active ingredients to boost the clarity of the skin. Here are the game-changing ingredients everyone should know about. Peptides, retinol, and vitamin C are three ingredients creating quite a buzz in the world of skincare, credited for helping to brighten and bring radiance to the skin – not to mention improve the appearance of aging signs. But how are they different? Which is the most effective ingredient for wrinkles?

Cover Photo:SkinStore Blog

  • The Comparison Between Peptides, Retinol, and Vitamin C

What Are Peptides?

Human skin is comprised mostly of collagen. Collagen is a protein comprised of long segments of amino acids arranged like a chain. When collagen breaks down, short segments of amino acids are formed. These are the tiny proteins and active molecules known as peptides.

Peptides serve as the building blocks for not only new collagen but also elastin fibers. These fibers are the building blocks of our skin and add to tissue firmness and elasticity. Aside from being essential to the skin's structure and function (important factors in firmness, texture and overall appearance), peptides are found in every human cell and play an important role in how the body functions, often acting as a biologic messenger.

Benefits of Peptides

When collagen is depleted by age and environmental factors, including sunlight, it is not fully replaced. As a result, smooth, young skin slowly becomes thinner and wrinkled over time. So you can successfully minimize wrinkles and give your skin a more youthful appearance with the application of skincare peptides that trigger the production of collagen. 

Peptides also help build up a stronger barrier and ease inflammation, repair damaged skin, and even out skin tone.

The most effective peptides are; Palmitoyl pentapeptide-3, Acetyl hexapeptide-3, Palmitoyl oligopeptide, Matrixyl-3000, and Copper Peptides.

1. Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Fragrance-Free

($31.99, up to 6% cashback at Walgreens)

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Fragrance-Free

Infused with Vitamin B3, Amino-Peptides, Hyaluronic Acid and Antioxidants for ultimate penetration, this moisture-binding formula instantly hydrates to visibly firm skin for a lifted look. Used as the last step in your routine, this fragrance-free and luxurious-feeling moisturizer leaves skin hydrated, softens the look of fine lines and wrinkles and firms the look of skin with plumping hydration. 

2. Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

($68, up to 5% cashback at Sephora)


This breakthrough protein moisturizer combines an unprecedented array and concentration of signal peptides, growth factors, supportive amino acids and pygmy waterlily for visible and immediate improvement in the appearance of skin's tone, texture and firmness.

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3. Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Wrinkle Resist Serum

($125, up to 6% cashback at Peter Thomas Roth)


Packed with a 73% complex of 21 Peptides and Neuropeptide Complex, this revolutionary wrinkle-fighting serum helps to visibly reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
It contains gamma proteins harness the power of Asian natto gum, a breakthrough ingredient that helps improve the look of elasticity, radiance, uneven skin tone, and texture. This formula is also infused with squalane, a hyaluronic acid complex, and vitamins A, C, and E.

| What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a retinoid, a derivative of vitamin A which occurs naturally in your skin. It's one of the most popular skincare ingredients on the market today because formulas with retinol deliver visible results.

Benefits of Retinol

In skincare, retinol is the gold standard for youth preservation (anti-aging) because it is the only scientifically proven ingredient that effectively stimulates the production of collagen while also being extremely effective against acne. Retinol is the only ingredient that the FDA will legally allow skincare companies in the US to refer to as “anti-aging.”

Retinol itself doesn't actually affect the skin directly. Enzymes within the skin must first convert retinol into retinoic acid. It's only when it is converted into retinoic acid that it becomes effective. This isn't an instantaneous process, though. In fact it could take up to 3 to 6 months of daily usage for retinol based products to provide a noticeable difference.

Retinol vs. Peptides

You might be wondering which ingredient comes out on top in the retinol vs. peptides battle. To put it simply, it depends on your needs. Peptides are great for sensitive skin or skin that is new to an anti-aging routine. They are less invasive than retinol, so you can use peptides alongside other skincare ingredients without having to worry that you might get some crazy result from trying to be your own cosmetic mixologist.

1. Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum

($89/1oz, up to 8% cashback at Murad)


Fight the signs of visible aging and give your skin a radiance boost with the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum. The serum is powered by Retinol Tri-Active Technology to create luminous and visibly firmer skin. 

The formula also contains Swertia Flower Extract to boost cell production to ensure smooth tone and texture. Hyaluronic Spheres deliver moisture to the skin through intense hydration, helping to create a youthful glow. Suitable for all skin types, the formula is recommended for those who are just beginning to show signs of aging, as well as those experiencing advanced signs. 

2. Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

($74, up to 5% cashback at Sephora)


Ideal for all those who're already acquainted with the wonders of retinol (this can trigger irritation and peeling if your skin is sensitive, or if you're new to the retinol realm), Drunk Elephant's game-changing A-Passioni Retinol Cream is the perfect addition to your evening-time routine.

Formulated with retinol and peptides, this cream works to restore brightness and elasticity to the complexion without causing redness. Along with hydrating vitamin F, it contains jojoba, apricot and marula oils to moisturise as well as an antioxidant blend to protect from environmental damage.

3. Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Line Erasing Night Serum Capsules

($51/30-piece, up to 13% cashback at Elizabeth Arden)


Improve the appearance of skin with Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum, an encapsulated Retinol formula that targets signs of aging to promote smoother, younger-looking skin. 

Each is 76% more potent that unencapsulated retinol. Ceramides help replenish skin's natural ceramides to reinforce skin's moisture barrier; retinol enhances skin's natural collagen to visibly reduce lines and wrinkles; and youth-restoring peptides promote wrinkle-smoothing and improve the appearance of skin tone and elasticity. Avocado, sunflower seed and olive oils deliver moisturizing and skin conditioning benefits.

HOW TO USE: Gently twist the tab around twice to open the capsule and squeeze onto your fingertips. Smooth the serum over your face and neck each night before your moisturizer.

| What Is Vitamin C?

As far as your skin is concerned, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals. Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin C aids in your skin's natural regeneration process, which helps your body repair damaged skin cells.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a much loved, multi-tasking skincare ingredient which is beneficial for patients with hyperpigmentation. It works by brightening hyperpigmented spots on the skin, but not lightening normal skin. What's more, it can help to create the healthy, glowing skin you're after.

This powerful antioxidant is also brilliant at tackling signs of ageing in the skin as it helps to protect it from age-accelerating aggressors in the environment such as UV, cigarette smoke and pollution. Regular use should help your complexion look brighter and smoother, while reducing fine lines, wrinkles and photo damage.

Vitamin C  vs. Peptides vs. Retinol 

While peptides are pretty brilliant in their own right at creating skin-boosting proteins, they really come into their own when combined with active ingredients such as Vitamin C. Vitamin C is helping to defend the cellular structures that peptides are working hard to create.

Used separately, vitamin C and retinol can target those specific skin conditions. But when used together, retinol and vitamin C create the ultimate skin-beautifying duo for any skin type. 

Apply a vitamin C booster serum in the morning, followed by a sunscreen (with an SPF of at least 30) to preserve your skin’s youth and improve the appearance of dark spots. At night, apply a natural retinol serum that works to tighten the skin and mitigate wrinkles, fine lines, and other imperfections while you sleep. 

Using vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night provides your skin with the ultimate brightening and firming treatment throughout the day and night. 

1. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

($166/30ml, up to 6% cashback at SkinCeuticals)


A bestseller and expert recommended, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic features a synergistic antioxidant combination of ferulic acid and pure vitamin C and E to enhance your skin's protection against environmental damage caused by free radicals. In addition to antioxidant protective benefits, this formula improves signs of aging and photodamage to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while firming and brightening your complexion. 

2. Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum 

 ($80, up to 5% cashback at Sephora)


A vitamin C day serum packed with a powerful antioxidant complex, essential nutrients, and fruit enzymes, all working together to firm and brighten the appearance of skin, while improving the signs of photoaging.

This revolutionary vitamin C serum stars 15% pure L-ascorbic acid (a potent form of vitamin C), 0.5% ferulic acid, and 1% vitamin E - supported by a host of antioxidants and enzymes - which work to neutralize aggressors and replenish precious lipids to diminish the visibility of lines and pigment patches. It is also formulated with pumpkin ferment extract and sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer to help enzymatically dissolve surface dead skin cells as it intensely hydrates. The result? A noticeably brighter, more radiant complexion, with signs of aging and photodamage minimized. 

3. CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum

($24.99, up to 6% cashback at Walgreens)

CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum

CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum contains 10% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), which has antioxidant properties and helps to brighten the complexion and promote even skin tone. This powerful and gentle lightweight vitamin C serum is also formulated with three essential ceramides, moisturizing hyaluronic acid and soothing vitamin B5 to help improve texture, restore skin's protective barrier and enhance moisture for soft, radiant, healthy-looking skin. Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

2021-03-09 00:146465