The Future Cream ended up on my personal radar when it won a 2022 Allure Best of Beauty Award in our Clean category. Seeing a heavy-duty face cream being described as “bouncy” piqued my attention. It was like seeing a bowl of pasta described as “refreshing” — didn’t seem likely, but I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to try it and see for myself.
According to the brand’s website, the Future Cream “replenishes critical moisture for up to 24 hours and helps visibly firm, reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier.” The formula contains peptides; rice, flax + pea plant proteins; and ceramides. As an avid reader of skin-care ingredient lists, I know all about the hydrating powers of ceramides. However, I was totally clueless about how peptides function in a moisturizer, so I reached out to a couple of dermatologists for clarity.
According to Carmen Castilla MD, an NYC-based board-certified dermatologist, “Polypeptide-121 is a chemically synthesized portion of a naturally occurring protein in the skin: collagen molecule 21.” She noted that not all peptides are created equal, and that “the role of a peptide in skin care is dependent on its molecular size and chemical structure.”
James Y. Wang MD, Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Metropolis Dermatology, pointed out that collagen molecule 21 ”can help boost overall skin health and help fight additional damage to the skin barrier.” Dr. Castilla speculated that due to this particular peptide’s large size, it likely decreases transepidermal water loss by acting as a humectant, or a substance that attracts and retains water. “The nice thing about peptides in skin care is that due to their similar chemical structure to naturally occurring proteins, they tend to be biocompatible and not cause allergic reactions,” she added.
But what’s really fascinating about peptides is their ability to boss your skin around. Let Dr. Castilla explain: “Peptides function as messenger molecules; generally speaking they instruct cells what to do.” Different peptides have the power to instruct your skin to do different things. In this case, Dr. Castilla suspects that the “tetrapeptides” in the Future Cream stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, and noted that “increasing collagen, elastin or another extracellular matrix would improve skin elasticity, fine lines/wrinkles, and hydration.”