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Can a topical peptide give you a good nice sleep? No! Here are all the reasons why NOT.

The promise: IPeptide™ attenuates the exaggerated inflammatory response of the alarmin, IL-33. It prevents damage induced by sleep deprivation, presents melatonin-like properties against glycation & peroxidation, and reinforces the first line of immune defense. It is time to start biohacking your sleep to improve fatigue signs, dark circles, eyebags, and enjoy a cooling effect.

There is so much wrong with this statement. Let counts the ways. Here is the actual composition of that skincare ingredient.

INCI Name:
Water (and) Glycerin (and) Caprylyl Glycol (and) Acetyl Hexapeptide-8.

Much of the following is written in “scientific jargon”. Don’t panic, the take-home message is clear enough.

  1. In the INCI nomenclature, there are about 80 synthetic hexapeptides.  You can have many more: there are 20 “common” amino acids that can make 20 to the power of 6,  hexapeptides. I have to assume that companies that cater to skincare manufacturers will continue to make more and more peptides. Why? Because they will be “new” and new, in skincare,  sells.
  2. There are natural active peptides like glutathione (3 amino acids),  hypothalamic neurohormone (3 aa), angiotensin (8 aa), glucagon (29), insulin (51 aa), and many more. They have been purified and their activity confirmed by thousands of research papers that have been published in reputable journals.
  3. At Skin Actives, we use glutathione for its antioxidant power but abstain from using others like glucagon or insulin because “with great power comes great responsibility”. The FDA recognizes this fact, and this is why most peptides with physiological activity like insulin are dispensed only by prescription.
  4. It is true that peptides with precise sequences can inhibit, for example,  G-protein-coupled receptor kinases, but for them to do that they have to resemble an intracellular loop of the beta2-adrenergic receptor, and for that, they require a minimum length, in this case, 17 amino acids, that will enable the peptide to fold in space “the right way”.
  5. How do you decide on the sequence of an inhibiting peptide? It takes years of laboratory work which will culminate with molecular models of the receptor, the effector, synthesis of peptides, and measurement of activity.
  6. Alarmins have nothing with the alarm that wakes you up in the morning, or with sleep.  Alarmins are epithelial cytokines molecules involved in non-infectious inflammation like asthma. 
  7. You can’t “bio-hack” your sleep and certainly not with a hexapeptide that may have an effect on a pro-inflammatory protein like IL-33.
  8. IL-33 may be involved in asthma, allergy, hay fever, and endometriosis. Many of us are affected by these chronic conditions and we already have some medicines that help a lot. I always welcome more medicines because some people don’t respond that well to what is available, and there is always room for improvements (better results, fewer side effects). But I am not counting on the skincare industry, which has a dismal record when it comes to synthetic peptides, to find me an asthma medication.
  9. If you have asthma, and if acetyl hexapeptide-8 cured asthma, then a product containing it may help you sleep better. I would put the chances of this happening at zero.
  10. Alarmins trigger inflammation in response to damage, they may influence wound healing. Don’t fool with this either.

    So, if anything, this hexapeptide (if it did work, but I hope it doesn’t) would more likely interfere with wound healing.

If you want to “bio-hack” your sleep, melatonin (a chemical related to serotonin) has its own receptor and has been shown to accelerate the onset of sleep. it may not extend sleeping hours but at least has something to do with sleep. Avoid coffee in the afternoon. You can also stop reading the news and watch Pride and Prejudice, it will improve your mood and maybe help you sleep better. Don’t buy products with IPeptide.



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