Skip to content

What is a nonapeptide? What can it do for your skin?

“Nona” from Latin, having nine (remember hexagon, heptagon, etc.?).

Is a nonapeptide better than an octapeptide? Or than a decapeptide?

It doesn’t matter how many amino acids; the sequence is what matters. In this case, the stereospecificity also matters because a couple of amino acids used in this particular peptide are not present in proteins, which are all Levo amino acids. The actual sequence of this nonapeptide, described by Jayawickreme et al. (1994), is Met-Pro-D-Phe-Arg-D-Trp-Phe-Lys-Pro-Val-NH2Why does it matter? Because it has to do with a spatial 3-D structure that will bind to the hormone receptor, blocking access to the normal hormone and preventing it from working. The idea is to prevent the binding of the α-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) to its natural receptor.

This may be a good or a bad idea, but we don’t have the evidence to say one thing or another. Why? No research. The paper described that synthetic peptide was only used in vitro. The rest is pure skincare industry hubris, what is called “label value”. Like making a solution of water, a thickener (dextran) and the peptide and calling it Melanostatine 5, which sounds scientific but is just a tradename.

Nonapeptide-1 may work if you are a claw-toed frog. In this amphibian, used for the experiments that identified nonapeptide-1 as an inhibitor, MSH production increases when the animal is in a dark location, causing the pigment to be dispersed in pigment cells in the toad’s skin, making it become darker and harder for predators to spot. The pigment cells are called melanophores; therefore, in amphibians, the hormone is often called melanophore-stimulating hormone.

Will a product that contains nonapeptide-1 work for you, a human with sun spots on your skin? It might,  it’s an experimental chemical and I have no idea because it hasn’t been tested for that purpose. But I’ve seen many skincare products containing it, and all of these products have other ingredients that may lighten up the skin, like antioxidants, sunscreens, inhibitors of enzymes involved in melanin synthesis, etc.

Look at this example:

Water, Nonapeptide-1, Tranexamic Acid, Ethoxydiglycol, Alpha-Arbutin, Niacinamide, Propanediol, Kojic Acid, Sargassum Fusiforme Extract, Arisaema Amurense Extract, Ganoderma Lucidum (Mushroom) Stem Extract, Laminaria Japonica Extract, Rumex Occidentalis Extract, Butylene Glycol, Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Lentinus Edodes Mycelium Extract, Sargassum Fulvellum Extract, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Enteromorpha Compressa Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Grifola Frondosa Fruiting Body Extract, Octanediol, Tropolone.

In bold, I marked some ingredients that inhibit melanin accumulation in the skin. What do I mean? If the nonapeptide-1 advertised as great doesn’t work at all, you still have the other ingredients known to do their jobs.

I suggest you say no to experimental chemicals of doubtful efficacy and stick with Skin Actives.

For example:

Skin Brightening Cream

Skin brightening spray recipe kit

For those pesky sun spots that reveal our age, both in our face, hands, and scalp, try UV Repair cream


Jayawickreme, C.K., Quillan, J.M., Graminski, G.F., et al. Discovery and structure-function analysis of α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone antagonists. J. Biol. Chem. 269: 29846-29854 (1994).

Find more information about skin pigmentation see here

And about correcting uneven skin tone see here 

Read more about peptides and proteins here.

Claims on this page have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.