Copper Peptides Are Like Natures Botox— Heres How to Use Them


As of late, there seems to be a never-ending influx of new skincare ingredients hitting the scene. From learning about the hydrating powers of hyaluronic acid to discovering that using ceramides is key to repairing the skin barrier, theres been a lot to keep up with. Plus, did you know theres a difference between retinol and retinoids? Well, if you like learning just like us, then theres a new ingredient you need to have on your radar called copper peptides.

Copper peptides have many benefits for skin, Prudvi Kaka, Chief Scientific Officer at skincare brand, NIOD explains, "When applied topically, copper peptides mimic naturally occurring peptides by reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and uneven skin texture and tone."

If youre looking to get clued up on copper peptides, read on as Kaka along with dermatologists, Adash Vijay Mudgil and Marie Hayag, as well as celebrity facialist, Joanna Vargas, give us their take on the impressive ingredient.

Keep reading to learn more about the ingredient that acts like natures Botox.

Copper Peptides

  • Type of ingredient: Antioxidant
  • Main benefits: Stimulates collagen production1 and fights free radical damage.
  • Who should use it: In general, anyone looking to get rid of hyperpigmentation.
  • How often can you use it:Twice a day.
  • Works well with: Copper peptides dont have an enhanced performance when used simultaneously with any particular ingredient, but in general, its recommended that they are used in conjunction with a barrier-protecting moisturizer.

Doesnt work with: Dermatologists typically recommend that you dont use copper peptides simultaneously with vitamin C, but each case is different depending on the formulas youre using. Consult a dermatologist before using.

What Are Copper Peptides?

Simply put, "Peptides in general are short chains of amino acids, the building blocks of protein," says Kaka, "There is a tripeptide called GHK that is naturally found in human plasma and has a high affinity for copper (Cu) ions." Ready to get a little more science-y? Kaka explains, "When GHK and copper ions are combined they can form GHK-Cu complexes (Copper Peptides). This peptide fragment results from the breakdown of collagen, a structural protein. Copper GHK-Cu content can become depleted as the skin ages and when applied topically, Copper Peptides play a primary role in supporting a number of key functions for maintaining optimal skin appearance."

Benefits of Copper Peptides for Skin

Copper peptides "serve as an antioxidant, promote collagen and elastin production, and also remove damaged collagen and elastin from the skin," says Vargas. Dr. Mudgil agrees, adding that:"Copper peptides ... can help soften the appearance of fine lines." Keep in mind that the key phrase here is that copper peptides are thought to boast these benefits. Dermatologists have mixed feelings, so further research needs to be done to reveal definitive proof.

However, there are some proven benefits of copper peptides: "I like products with copper peptides for wound healing," says Dr. Hayag. "Another benefit is that it can help with acne by normalizing the bacterial concentration on the skin."

Side Effects of Copper Peptides

Overuse of most ingredients in any form of skincare can be bad, but unless you have sensitive skin or are using other exfoliating ingredients, copper peptides are generally tolerable. And while theyre way gentler than retinoids are, they can still cause a rash. In general, your best line of defense is just not to ingest them. Also of note, too much copper intake can make you nauseous and give you gastrointestinal issues. But thats not the worst of it— they may cause serious organ system toxicity.2

How To Use Copper Peptides

Copper peptides should only be used in their designated concentrations within skincare products.3

Because of the way theyre absorbed into the body, it can be dangerous to use too much of them. Thankfully, its pretty hard to find copper peptides in their isolated form.

For the most part, you will find copper peptides as an ingredient in face serums. If youre using a retinoid, it would be wise to stagger usage, so one night you could use a copper peptide serum, and the next, your retinol. As with any new skincare product, you should patch test before slathering on your face with abandon. If you experience any adverse, discontinue use, and if irritation persists, consult with your dermatologist.


Which other products can reduce the effectiveness of copper peptides?

"I advise exercising caution when combining copper peptides with retinoids, as both retinoids and copper peptides have the capacity to support the skin’s natural exfoliating mechanism. Combining both ingredients into one regimen may increase the chances of over-exfoliation, which can lead to skin sensitivity and irritation. If you wish to combine both products into a regimen, I recommend using them on alternate days and/or nights," Kaka says.

Ingredients such as vitamin C, and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) in other skincare products can also reduce the overall effectiveness of copper peptides.

How should you apply copper peptides to skin?

You can apply twice daily on clean skin in an upward motion.

Who should proceed with caution when using copper peptides?

Those with sensitive skin should be wary of using copper peptides as they could cause irritation.

Polypeptides in Skincare: The Benefits and How to Use Them

Article Sources

We takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

Pickart L, Vasquez-Soltero JM, Margolina A. GHK peptide as a natural modulator of multiple cellular pathways in skin regeneration. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:648108. doi:10.1155/2015/648108

National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem compound summary for CID 91820615, copper peptide(GHK-Cu)/. Updated October 31, 2020.

Borkow G. Using copper to improve the well-being of the skin. Curr Chem Biol. 2014;8(2):89-102. doi:10.2174/2212796809666150227223857

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