In this article, we reveal everything you need to know about copper peptides and the role of copper in skincare. We also discuss the best beauty products with copper peptides. Read on to learn more!
Does a “face lift in a bottle” sound like something you’d like to get familiar with? It does to us, and so we spent the better part of this year delving deep into the world of copper peptides and how they fit into modern day skincare.
Our conclusion? The results are undeniable, and copper peptides are something that you may wish to become familiar with if you want to keep the signs of aging at bay. Read on and we’ll tell you how and why!
In this article we discuss the following:
- Copper in Skincare
- Copper Peptides
- What are Peptides?
- Benefits of Copper Peptides
- Are Copper Peptides Good for Skin?
- Copper Absorption Through Skin
- Copper Peptides Before and After (with Photos)
- Types of Products with Copper Peptides
- Copper Peptide Serum
- Face Creams with Copper Peptides
- Copper Peptide Eye Cream
- Copper Peptide Lip Balm
- Best Products with Copper Peptides
- Best Copper Peptide Serum
- Best Face Creams with Copper Peptides
- Best Copper Peptide Eye Cream
- Best Copper Peptide Lip Balm
Copper in Skincare
Copper, as a mineral, is one of nine essential nutrients required for the human body to function properly. Almost all tissue in the body needs a healthy dose of copper to maintain proper and normal physiological processes.
This is not a new revelation; human beings have known about the importance of copper intake for centuries. The Ancient Indians wrote about daily copper intake almost 5000 years ago, in the texts that brought Ayurvedic healing to the world. They believed copper so important, in fact, that they instructed everyone to start each morning by drinking water that had been held in a copper water bottle or vessel overnight.
With copper deficiency becoming an ever-increasing condition in both men and women, modern science has looked more deeply into the way in which copper is used in the body’s processes. It turns out that a portion of all daily copper intake (approximately 15% to be exact) is actually reserved as copper for skin, meaning that the outside of the body needs it just as much as the inside does.
When it comes to the skin, copper has the very important role of stimulating dermal fibroblasts proliferation. It also promotes collagen production, as well as elastin fiber, which keeps the signs of aging at bay. Copper in skin also has the very important role of supporting superoxide dismutase, which is an antioxidant enzyme that protects our skin from free radicals from the environment. Some studies have also linked copper to melanin, which makes it somewhat responsible for pigmentation in the skin.
It’s important to note that no human being can make copper on their own; one gets copper via a nutrient rich diet, a daily copper supplement, or by drinking mineral-supplemented water. Because copper is a mineral that is usually ingested, the internal body tends to get first preference, leaving the skin somewhat at the bottom of the food chain.
This is what makes copper skin care so appealing; we can finally apply copper directly onto the skin and see accelerated results. Copper on skin started to become a revolutionary branch of skincare around 1989. However, there is evidence to support the notion that the Ancient Egyptians were using copper as part of their skincare rituals as early as 4000BC.
It was only later in 1997 that the mass market for skincare was introduced to copper-rich products. Prior to this, skincare products containing copper had been reserved for use in salons and spas, and anyone looking to experience the benefits had to have the money and the time to visit regularly.
It was a biochemist named Dr. Loren R. Pickart who uncovered the ancient secrets of copper in skin care and reintroduced them to the world. At the time, he was an undergraduate student at the University of California.
The doctor noticed that the molecular compound known as GHL-Cu was something that was abpndant in young people, yet not at all present in the old. He then discovered that the GHL-Cu compound was pretty easy to break down, and that he could quite easily recreate it in a laboratory by simply combining copper with three amino acids. And thus copper peptides were born.
What are Peptides?
Copper is applied to the skin through what are known as copper peptides. When the copper mineral is combined with at least three amino acids, a copper peptide is formed in the compound of GHL-Cu. As humans, we do this naturally in certain parts of the body, including within our blood plasma, saliva and urine. And, as we grow older, we do this less.
For skincare products, copper peptides are made in a laboratory following Dr. Loren R. Pickart’s method. Those copper peptides and can then be combined into existing products such as moisturizers and serums.
The production of peptides is not something that many skincare brands have chosen to get involved in until now. There are only a handful of companies that can produce peptides, so adding them into existing brands can take the products from affordable to expensive, overnight.
So, why are peptides becoming so accessible all of a sudden? The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and the results of long term application of copper peptides directly onto the skin are not easy to ignore.
Benefits of Copper Peptides
While copper peptides seem to have a multitude of positive effects on the skin, the most dominant benefit remains their ability to stimulate rapid production of collagen and fibroblasts. Both of these give our skin elasticity, which in turn allows the enzymes to firm, smooth and soften so rapidly that the anti-aging results become apparent.
At the same time, the peptides also retain the ability to remove damaged collagen and elastin from the skin. Scar tissue is stripped of these compromised enzymes and gradual healing can take place.
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of peptides is that they already occur naturally within the body, making them one of the safest chemical skincare products to introduce to the skin. There have been no studies to show any notable risks or side effects from using copper peptides on the face or body, though it is generally not recommended that one apply any peptide product to broken skin.
Are Copper Peptides Good for Skin?
Short answer? Undeniably so.
Long answer: in addition to their ability to seemingly reverse signs of aging, copper peptides also act as antioxidants. They do so by supporting what are known as superoxide dismutase, the antioxidant enzyme that directly protects the skin from free radicals.
Copper peptides also promote the production of very necessary glycosaminoglycans. Usually, we would have to use something like hyaluronic acid on our skin daily over a long period of time in order to produce glycosaminoglycans.
Peptides for skin have arguably some of the most powerful anti-aging properties the skincare world has uncovered. Affectionate street names for peptide-products include the aforementioned “facelift in a bottle”, and some have likened them to the very exclusive ‘vampire facial’ due to their similar abilities. In a way, this comparison is apt. A vampire facial occurs by drawing the blood of a patient and spinning it to separate the plasma. The platelet rich plasma is then painted onto skin that has undergone microneedling. Like the plasma that comes from within the body, copper peptides are mimicking a substance we already make on our own. Applying them onto the skin is arguably like using the body to heal itself.
Of course, all skin is different, and the positive results experienced by one individual using copper peptides are never guaranteed with a different person.
Copper Absorption Through Skin
Perhaps the impressive results of peptides on the skin can be linked back to what seems to be a partiality for copper by the human body.
The skin is our biggest organ, and the absorption of substances through it is actually the most direct route into the bloodstream. This is why there has been such a radical movement toward natural skincare and beauty products over the past few years.
For decades we have consumed big brand products often made with harmful chemicals, assuming their use on the outside of the body was necessary and had no effect on the inside of our bodies. Science has thankfully shed light on this notion, showing how many of the harmful chemicals used to make beauty and skincare products are eventually absorbed through the skin and left to have consequences on the inner systems of the body. Respiratory diseases, infertility and even cancer have been linked to chemically-based skincare products.
Natural skincare calls for less harmful chemicals and more nutrient-rich, beneficial ingredients that do not put the body at risk. It is also believed by some health practitioners that the body favors copper absorption through skin.
Copper Peptides Before and After (with Photos)
At this point you may be thinking, “aren’t copper peptides a chemical all on their own?” This would be correct, but the reason they can be quantified as natural skincare is because they are a naturally occurring chemical in the body already, and a necessary one at that!
In chemistry there are good chemicals and there are bad chemicals. There are many good chemicals that work to keep us alive, copper peptides included. And then there are man-made ‘bad’ chemicals that do the opposite, such as parabens, petrolatum and formaldehyde.
Since positive, natural chemicals work with the body instead of against it, we can give credit where it’s due and acknowledge copper peptides for the powerful anti-agers that they are. Allow these copper peptide before-and-after images to give you greater perspective:
Types of Products with Copper Peptides
As with any active ingredient, the product within which it is carried is of great importance. When using copper peptides, you want the compounds to find their ways into the deepest parts of your pores. Carefully chosen supporting ingredients can help to facilitate this.
Copper peptides retain the natural ability to pull any damaged or compromised collagen from existing pores, which is not something any botanically sourced ingredient has shown itself to be capable of as of yet.
That being said, it’s never a bad idea to offer extra support, hydration and anti-inflammation to these now vulnerable, exposed pores in the process of applying the peptides. A good serum, face moisturizer, or eye cream will bring a wealth of their own skincare benefits to the table. Here’s what to look out for.
Copper Peptide Serum
Serums are the pinnacle of any well-structured skincare routine. They usually offer the highest concentration of an active ingredient, therefore accelerating results when compared to the average cream or essence alternative.
For years, serums remained rich in chemicals, both harmful and not, as it was assumed that botanically-derived ingredients simply could not have the same impact on human skin. This has been disproven over the last few years, with plant-based alternatives emerging as equally as potent to their chemical counterparts, with retinol as an alternative to retinoid being one of the most notable discoveries.
Because of the high concentration of the active ingredient, you’re going to pay a pretty penny for a serum that is rich in copper peptides. Copper peptide serum is usually comprised of a “buffet” of multiple types of hyaluronic acid to create a suitable carrier for the compound.
Most copper serums that are available to the public sit at around 2% in peptide density. If you want anything stronger, you will have to source it from a dermatological professional. Copper peptides for skin is believed to be safe, even in higher concentrates, but the industry isn’t ready to relinquish these dosages to the public just yet as the long term effects of daily use are not yet fully documented.
Serums containing copper peptides should ideally not be in competition with any other active ingredients at the time of use. They can be applied alongside hyaluronic acid, other amino acids and most facial oils, but use among acids, retinoids, antioxidants or vitamin C serums should be avoided.
Face Creams with Copper Peptides
A more gentle way of getting any active ingredient onto the skin is through a cream or moisturizer. Skincare professionals advocate for the moisturizing of the face and body at least twice daily.
Face creams become an excellent vessel by which to transport copper peptides into the skin. Generally, face creams with copper peptides are absorbed more quickly than serums, especially when pores are already wide open thanks to appropriate prior cleansing.
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of a face cream depends greatly on the composition of the formulation. In the same way, copper peptides are only as efficient as the cream through which they are transported.
For the purpose of maintaining a gentle, universally applicable nature, most face creams will offer significantly lower amounts of peptides when compared to serums. These can sometimes be defined as trace amounts, which are intended to give the skin a daily encounter with the compounds without forcing the skin to absorb the peptides at their most potent.
At present, the market is not very saturated with peptide in face cream options. Since this is still a very new trend within the industry, we expect more face cream brands to emerge with more potent peptides in the future.
Copper Peptide Eye Cream
We would like to digress a bit before getting into the specifics of copper peptide eye cream. There is much debate surrounding the necessity of eye creams within the skincare world. Some argue that eye creams are simply glorified face creams, and that no real difference exists.
According to skincare professionals, this is largely incorrect. There are indeed brands of eye cream that are essentially selling regular face cream without making any changes to their formulas, but on a molecular level there is actually a need for two different products.
The skin around the eye is incredibly thin, and packed with pores much smaller than those across the rest of the face. It takes a specifically formulated cream with finer molecules to penetrate these pores, hence why it is necessary to use both an eye cream and a face cream.
As with any formulated compound, there are different types of copper peptides available for manufacturers to use in their products. Some are denser in compound, while others are less dense. The latter is the more ideal type of peptide for use in eye cream.
But can you not just use a copper peptide serum around the eyes, instead? Yes, serums are generally able to penetrate the skin around the eye quite easily, offering up the potent anti-aging benefits of the product to the area. The trouble is that there is great risk in serums that are applied without care, as certain ingredients finding their way into the eyeball can result in irritation and even burning of the iris and cornea.
Eye creams are risk free, and gentle enough that no real harm is likely to come from minor accidental entry into the eye.
Copper Peptide Lip Balm
When a skincare ingredient boasts impressive results, it’s generally only a matter of time before someone formulates it into a lip repair product.
The lip area tends to be one of the last regions of skin to be incorporated into a skincare routine. Most people are not brought up with any information surrounding proper care of the lips; applying lip ice or Vaseline is the culmination of lip care in the average household.
The skin of the lips needs as much, if not more, care as the rest of the face. This is a region of extremely thin skin. As a result, it is far more affected by changes in diet, hydration, and external environments. Most women report seeing their first signs of aging present in and around the lip areas.
Hold onto your peptides, guys: lips wrinkle! This is one of the first regions of the face to lose collagen, resulting in gradual natural sagging and overall loss of plumpness.
Thankfully copper peptides specialize in restoring lost collagen, and some lip care brands have taken the initiative of formulating lip repair products that feature peptides as an active ingredient.
Having a copper peptide lip balm on your person at all times is a great way to interact with this compound without having to give it much thought or planning.
Copper Peptides to Add to Your Favorite Skin Care Products
The problem with some of the big brand products is that, while they are presented as copper peptide products, they generally contain only a microscopic concentration of copper peptides, which is an expensive compound.
In addition, these beauty products often contain other ingredients which may not suit your preferences or skin type. In some cases, you may wish to add copper peptides to your favorite skin care products, rather than purchasing an entirely different stand-alone skin care product.
As a result, it would be ideal if there was a way to add copper peptides to your favorite face creams and other beauty products. In order to make this a reality, we offer the highest quality pure copper peptides available in the marketplace. These copper peptides can be added to the beauty products of your choice in order to add the power of copper peptides to your skin care regime. To learn more, see our copper peptides here.
Best Products with Copper Peptides
Having laid that foundation, we are now ready to share some of our favorite copper peptide products with you, all of which are available for purchase either online or from department stores.
We love each of these for vastly different reasons, which we will describe, but the common denominator is that we appreciate the accompanying ingredients as much as we do the copper peptides. We value brands that appear to have taken the time and consideration necessary to formulate effective products, as opposed to making a quick buck off of products that contain the compounds but offer very little additional value to the user.
More than this, we value brands and products that source quality peptides for use in their production. As with most skincare trends, it doesn’t take long for less ethical suppliers to start making mock chemicals that are cheaper and can be used in place of the real deal. The industry is not necessarily saturated by imitation copper peptides just yet, but we predict in the near future there will be companies offering less than authentic renditions of this chemical compound, as was the case with refined petrolatum a few decades ago.
Best Copper Peptide Serums
Korres Golden Krocus Ageless Saffron Elixir
You may need to take out a small loan to be able to afford a monthly dose of this product by Korres, but we guarantee you’ll never be sour about it.
Known as their “golden elixir”, this serum combines the ancient healing techniques of Greek skincare with the more recent discovery of copper peptides. Together they are a symphony of copper, saffron, oats and tamarind seeds, bound together by a potent hyaluronic acid. The result is one of the most powerful antioxidant serums on the market.
But why the price? Ironically, it’s not the high quality copper peptides driving this product to non-affordability — it’s the saffron. Korres uses a rare Greek saffron derived from the town of Kozani, where the Krocus flowers bloom but once a year, giving them a very limited window for harvest.
This golden elixir boasts some pretty evident results in a short period of time. 96% of their users saw improvement in their skin’s elasticity after just 28 days. After the same amount of time, 93% saw improvement in firmness and smoothness of the face, while 90% reported noteworthy skin brightening. There is a reason people keep coming back for more.
The Ordinary Buffet Serum + Copper Peptides 1%
We want to give our readers an alternative copper peptide serum that is more affordable to the average person. Introducing The Ordinary; if you’ve not yet heard of this brand, then consider this your lucky day!
This Canadian beauty brand has been welcomed and celebrated across the West due to their highly affordable, yet highly effective range of products. Everything from squalene, retinol, vitamin C and more can be found within this comprehensive range of skincare products. There are even a number of at-home chemical peels.
The Ordinary brought us a copper peptide serum not too long ago. They chose some top amino acids and combined them with hyaluronic acid in order to hydrate the skin while delivering the beneficial copper properties.
Due to the complexity of the ingredients, this product retails at around three times what most of The Ordinary’s products do. For regular users of this brand, this will feel like a splurge, but in the bigger scheme of things this is one of the most affordable copper peptide serums (that actually work) that you will find.
Best Face Creams with Copper Peptides
Evolve Beauty Multi Peptide 360 Moisture Cream
Evolve is an organic beauty range that has been on our radar since the beginning of the natural skincare movement. We’ve loved many of their products, which are all natural, cruelty-free, organic, non-toxic, eco-friendly and hand crafted. That’s quite a mouthful, but in the best way!
Their face cream containing copper peptides has made waves in a very short period of time. It was a finalist in The Beauty Global Awards of 2019, as well as a shortlisted award winner for the Mamma and Baby Awards in the same year.
The key ingredients in this face cream include a multitude of peptides. They have focused on green super foods that have been used for over 100 years to improve facial firmness and wrinkle reduction. Sacha Inchi peptides and peptides from coconut make this a nutrient dense face cream packed with healing potential.
It is recommended that one use this face cream at least twice a day for best results. The more often your skin is exposed to these compounds, the better. Use in place of your current daily moisturizer, and reapply after swimming or intense perspiration.
Best Face Creams with Copper Peptides
Neova CU3 Tissue Repair
We’ll take a look at another peptide-rich product by Neova later in our lip balm section. For now, this tissue repair cream needs to be introduced as a hugely beneficial cream when used on the face.
The reason that this particular cream is so potent is that there are very minimal ingredients within the formula. It’s essentially just a mix of copper peptides, glycerine and different forms of wax, which leaves the copper more room to work its magic rather than competing with other ingredients.
The downside is that this is not a completely natural skincare product. We’ll present it as is and leave it to you to decide if you value effectiveness over clean beauty!
Best Copper Peptide Eye Cream
Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum
We couldn’t wait to get our hands on this peptide-rich eye cream when it was first unveiled to the world. Drunk Elephant went to great lengths to formulate the most inclusive eye formula we’ve seen, with ingredients that most brands would leave out rather than go to the trouble of sourcing.
Let’s start with the fact that the eye serum is 100% free of silicones and fragrances. It’s certified vegan and cruelty-free, and Drunk Elephant makes it known that their only intention in creating skincare products is to tackle the issues at hand, and never simply mask them.
Among the most notable ingredients are black tea and vitamin B3. The real kicker, however, comes in the form of edelweiss stem cells, which seem to work as a dream team in combination with the copper peptides.
A little goes a long way with this Shaba Complex eye cream. Initially the investment might feel hefty, but one bottle will last you the better part of the year if applied properly.
Best Copper Peptide Lip Balm
Neova CU3 Lip Repair
At Neova they understand that the lips are exposed to some really harsh environments throughout a single day. Extreme heat when sipping your morning coffee, intense cold when walking out into the wind, possible dehydration when you forget to drink water between breakfast and dinner (oops!).
They’ve combined essential mineral oils with rich copper peptides that work together to nourish, protect, and heal the lips no matter the external environment. Cracked lips are no match for this formula, and users will notice a radical difference within hours of use.
Pure Copper Peptides to Add to Products
In some cases, you may wish to add copper peptides to your favorite skin care products, rather than purchasing a stand-alone skin care product.
In order to make this a reality, we offer the highest quality pure copper peptides available in the marketplace. These copper peptides can be added to the beauty products of your choice in order to add copper peptides to your skin care regime. To learn more, see our copper peptides here.
We hope you have enjoyed this guide to copper peptides and skincare. If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy learning about copper's natural anti-microbial properties. In addition to the benefits of copper when it comes to skincare, copper can also be used to help naturally kill bacteria and viruses. To learn more, see our guide here.
About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.