Is peptide your ticket to luscious lips? Here's what the experts have to say

From Rhode to Indē Wild, Hyphen, and more, here's how peptide-infused lip balms are taking over the beauty industry.

Harper's Bazaar India

As a 30-something-year-old, my skincare ingredients list reads a lot like this—retinol, collagen, ceramides, and peptides being the latest addition. A powerhouse ingredient commonly used in skincare and haircare, I was piqued by the impressive anti-ageing properties of peptides. The ingredient has become ubiquitous in lip balms since the launch of Hailey Bieber’s Rhode Peptide Lip Treatment. Hailey turns everything she touches into gold for social media, and the lip treatment is no exception—the viral product is perpetually sold out. Peptides may have quietly been a part of lip formulations before, but Rhode has undoubtedly created a buzz around it.


Peptides are essentially short chains of amino acids that act as building blocks of proteins. “The specific arrangement of amino acids determines the type of protein they form, whether it’s keratin, collagen, or elastin,” explains Dr Rashmi Shetty, cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Ra Aesthetics & Dermatology. These proteins are the foundation of your skin and play a crucial role in its well-being. When applied topically, peptides are small enough to penetrate the skin and trigger skin cells to build elastin and collagen for younger-looking, firm, and healthy skin. “Peptides can benefit our skin by promoting collagen production and enhancing skin health and texture,” says Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, the medical director and founder of ISAAC Luxe.

While its effects in skincare have been extensively researched, can our lips really benefit from peptides? It’s common knowledge that our lips lose their natural fullness over time, giving way to loss of volume, dryness, and fine lines. According to Dr Gupta, “peptides can help nourish and hydrate the delicate skin on the lips, improve elasticity, and reduce the appearance of fine lines.” Said to discourage signs of ageing by lending it a fuller and younger look, “they may not provide dramatic plumping effects like hyaluronic acid or collagen,” but they can “contribute to overall lip health and appearance when used consistently,” explains Dr Gupta.

With benefits of their own in lip balms, peptides work best when combined with other nourishing and moisturising ingredients. “Some ingredients that synergise well with peptides include moisturising agents like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, emollients such as shea butter or jojoba oil, and antioxidants like Vitamin E or green tea extract,” says Dr Shetty. Take, for instance, Charlotte Tilbury’s Happikiss, which infuses hyaluronic acid with c-peptide for fuller-looking lips, or the Hyaluronic Acid + Peptide Lip Booster by Paula’s Choice that has the perfect blend to restore suppleness. Farmacy’s Lip Smoothie Vitamin C + Peptide Lip Balm combines the brightening abilities of Vitamin C with the plumping powers of peptides, while the Laneige Lip Treatment’s peptide and adenosine duo help firm lip wrinkles. Some newer peptide lip launches include the Ole Henriksen Pout Preserve Peptide Lip Treatment, Nudestix’s Nudeskin Hydra-Peptide Lip Butter, and The Inkey List Tripeptide Plumping Lip Balm.

Closer home, the buzz has caught up too with brands like La Mior, Earth Rhythm, Dot & Key, Indē Wild, and Hyphen joining the peptide brigade. “Peptides were underrated but are now garnering considerable attention,” says Kriti Sanon, the chief customer officer at Hyphen. “Its ability to repair lips, along with its capacity to plump and enhance skin elasticity is commendable.” Hyphen’s Vitamin-infused peptide lip balms combine peptides, vitamin E, linoleic acid, and the hydrating properties of squalane and shea butter. “Together, these effective ingredients work wonders to shield your lips from dryness, and leave them feeling irresistibly soft,” adds Sanon. For Indē Wild, peptides are not unfamiliar. Founder Diipa Büller-Khosla has been including the star ingredient in her formulas since her first product—the PM serum. “I have been a firm supporter of peptides even before it became the new ‘it’ ingredient,” says Khosla. “Peptides can create new, and heal old. They’re plumping machines and hydrate any skin they touch.”

Inde Wild
Indē Wild

The brand’s Dewy Lip Treatment boasts a unique ingredient-packed formula, including ghee and hyaluronic acid. “It is clinically proven to provide eight hours of lasting plumping and increases hydration by 118 per cent,” says Khosla. Wildly successful, the lip treatment has been selling out fast—evidence of how popular peptide balms have become. “Being the number two selling product across TIRA and selling one unit every 30 seconds—we couldn’t be more proud of the response,” she adds. Hyphen’s lip balm is also one of the brand’s best-selling products. “Peptides have become popular because people know they can improve their skin,” says Sanon.

It may seem that peptides possess magical properties, but Dr Shetty cautions us against the hype. “The unique composition of the lip area makes it challenging for substances to penetrate effectively,” she asserts. “Therefore, the impact of applying peptides to the lips is unclear.” While this could be true, lip balms are arsenal must-haves, and those packed with peptides could be worth the gamble.

Feature Image Credits: Ole Henriksen

This article originally appeared in Harper's Bazaar India, April-May 2024 print issue

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