Silk anything sounds pretty amazing: Silk sheets. Silk ties. Silk robes. But how about silk peptides?
Also known as silk protein or silk amino acids, this trendy ingredient is everywhere in skin and hair care.
Is this just another fleeting fad?
Or could there be real value in buying healthy or beauty products with silk peptides? And just where does this silk come from? And what does it do… like, really do for your skin and hair?
Silk peptides are obtained from a silkworm. These worms—yes, real worms!—spin a yarn (or silk) full of enzymes. Yet, it’s the inside of the silk, the protein part, that’s used in hair, skin and cosmetic products.
Silk Peptides = Silky Skin
Silk peptides are often used in cosmetics and skin care products because they contain natural nutrients necessary for healthy hair, nails, and skin. This natural protein is known for helping skin retain its moisture and elasticity, giving it a smooth, youthful, silky feel.
Silk peptides can be found in:
|Anti-aging skin creams||Body washes/Soaps|
|Facial cleansers/Toners||Hair treatments|
|Hair gel||Bubble bath|
How Can Silk Proteins Help YOU?
Not only are there many benefits provided by silk protein for skin, it is also being researched for its potential use in medicine. One of the byproducts of silk, sericin, has been long discarded as waste during the processing of silk. However, researchers are looking into sericin as a potentially key component of regenerative medicine. Scientists have successfully created injectible sericin in laboratory settings. It may be able to serve as a method of delivering cells and drugs to damaged tissue, helping that tissue regenerate.1
Sericin also shows promise in other applications because it possesses many other important attributes. It is resistant to ultraviolet (UV) rays and also inhibits the development of harmful bacteria. In addition, sericin not only does a great job of absorbing moisture, it’s also effective in releasing it. Sericin can be used to create degradable materials, which could help reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing.2
This incredible silk protein for skin also has antioxidant properties.3 This is important because antioxidants limit the problems caused by free radicals. These are molecules that are missing an electron and will steal them wherever they can find them. They’ll take them from cells and tissues, which can lead to a lot of damage. Antioxidants give free radicals the electrons they seek. As a result, they spare the body from the damage these molecules can do.4
Traditionally, silk peptides have been used as a treatment for various illnesses such as flatulence, phlegm, and spasm.5 According to one study, peptides from silk moths called cecropins and melittin showed initial therapeutic benefit. These peptides carry antimicrobial properties and are now considered host defense peptides. These host defense peptides may play a role in helping to prevent things like sepsis.6
Studies have shown that silk amino acids can provide many therapeutic effects as well, such as reducing blood glucose levels, promoting metabolism, and improving stamina and male reproductive function… Use of silk peptides may also promote weight loss, so anyone suffering from obesity or weight gain can benefit from this natural protein.7,8
Silk peptides, as noted above, are revered for having a natural moisturizing benefit for the skin. They are easily absorbed. As the silk literally penetrates the outer layer of skin, it delivers the moisture directly, helping skin soak it up retain it.
In addition to having a natural moisturizing benefit to the skin, silk peptides also have protective properties. What is so amazing about this natural protein is its film-forming abilities. This silk protein is also known to protect skin from dehydration.9,10
Silk peptides may also promote faster wound healing, due to anti-inflammatory properties.11 They also contain nutrients that work as moisturizers, helping to protect against skin infection.12 Silk peptides can be combined with other agents, like keratin, for wound dressings. In addition, the peptides may help to facilitate wound healing by reducing the amount of elastase—the enzyme that degrades proteins—found in wounds.13
Who doesn’t want healthier hair? Does silk peptides help make hair more manageable, or softer? Possibly. Studies have shown that silk protein contains amino acids that can help facilitate hair growth and make strands softer. How? Because silk protein has a low molecular weight that’s able to penetrate individual strands of hair, helping to improve elasticity and increase shine.14
Almost anyone can benefit from silk peptides and products containing them, especially those with dry to very dry skin and damaged hair.
These days, people are very conscious of how they look, and although we can’t prevent aging, we can always prevent the early signs of it. Anyone concerned about aging, including women in their 30s, 40s, 50s (and beyond), should consider products containing silk peptides. Why? Because silk peptides contain potentially wrinkle-reducing properties that may help skin regenerate. This could, ultimately, help to eliminate fine lines, or at least make them less noticeable.15
Peptides Can Heal Injuries, Too!
At this point, we’ve established the (many) benefits silk peptides have for skin and hair health. There is more: They may also be able to help us when we’re injured. In one study, silk peptides were found to help reduce blood flow to injured muscles and tissues, while increasing the number of red blood cells in the body. Another study found that athletes may benefit from taking supplements containing silk protein. Stamina may be improved and muscle mass and fat oxidation may be increased during training rest.16
In conclusion, silkworms produce a very powerful, natural byproduct for healing the body—inside and out. And not to mention all of those the beauty benefits. Easily absorbed by the skin and hair, the silk amino acids provide moisture and protect skin from dehydration. All this adds up to hair and skin that feels silky, smooth!
Article updated: March 29, 2018
1Wang, Z., Zhang, Y., Zhang, J., Huang, L., Liu, J., Li, Y., . . . Wang, L. (2014). Retrieved March 29, 2018
2 Zhang, Y. Q. (2002, May). Applications of natural silk protein sericin in biomaterials. Retrieved March 29, 2018,
3 Norihisa KATO, Seiji SATO, Atsushi YAMANAKA, Hideyuki YAMADA, Naozumi FUWA & Masakazu NOMURA (2014) Silk Protein, Sericin, Inhibits Lipid Peroxidation and Tyrosinase Activity, Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 62:1, 145-147, DOI: 10.1271/bbb.62.145
4 Retrieved March 29, 2018. Web. http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/antiox.html
5 Kim D, Hwang H, Sheen S et al. Enhancement of anti-inflammatory activity of PEP-1-FK506 binding protein by silk fibroin peptide. J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2012:494-500.
6Bowdish DHancock R. Anti-endotoxin properties of cationic host defence peptides and proteins. Innate Immunity. 2005;11(4):230-236. doi:10.1177/09680519050110040801.
7Amino acids and their significance for diabetes | aminoacid-studies.com — Your information portal on amino acids. Aminoacid-studiescom. 2016. Accessed September 2, 2016.
8Shin S e. Silk amino acids improve physical stamina and male reproductive function of mice. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2010. Accessed September 2, 2016.
9Kim J, Hwang H, Yun H, Kim B, Suh H, Lim K. Silk peptide intake increases fat oxidation at rest in exercised mice. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2013:250-5.
10Secret Ingredient: Silk Protein / Silk Peptide. NAILS Magazine. 2016. Accessed September 2, 2016.
11Guo SDiPietro L. Factors Affecting Wound Healing. J Dent Res. 2010;89(3):219-229. doi:10.1177/0022034509359125.
12Silk Peptide Powder|Huzhou Xintiansi Bio-tech Co., Ltd. Chinatiansicom. 2013. Accessed September 2, 2016.
13Definition of Elastase. MedicineNet. 2016. Accessed September 2, 2016.
14Hydrolyzed Silk Protein and Hair Health – How Silk Protein is Beneficial for Hair. Regenepure Hair Loss and Hair Growth Products. 2014. Accessed September 2, 2016.
15Silk Amino Acid – A Luxurious Anti-Aging Silk Peptide Rejuvenates Skin. Visioelancom. 2016. Accessed September 2, 2016.
16Kim J, Hwang H, Park J, Yun H, Suh H, Lim K. Silk peptide treatment can improve the exercise performance of mice. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(1):35. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-35.