Here's the 411 On Copper Peptides
Photo by Christina Deravedisian on Unsplash
If you’ve ever heard of copper peptides, I’m sure you haven’t heard the term be used while discussing skincare. It seems like the two things have nothing to do with each other. Actually, there's a growing number of products and formulas on the market that contain copper peptides, and it's not surprising given the skincare claims copper peptides have.
- Copper peptides are naturally occurring polysaccharides that were first discovered in human plasma. The molecules are small enough to go below the surface layer of skin, making it a more efficacious ingredient than some other common skincare products
- Copper peptides are known to promote the production of collagen and elastin, which help keep your skin smoother and firmer as you age. They also are able to hold up to 1,000 times their weight in water, making them an ideal candidate for hydration
- You can incorporate copper peptides into your routine fairly easily. They are most commonly found in the form of a serum and can be used in both the morning and night and can be applied directly after cleansing or right before moisturizer/sunscreen
What are copper peptides?
I’m sure the first thing everyone is wondering is what even are copper peptides? Copper peptides are copper complexes that exist naturally in nature. Copper peptides are considered tripeptides and were first discovered in human plasma. Scientists say that it is naturally occurring in our urine and saliva as well.
What makes copper peptides special for our skin? Well, through many years of research, physicians and researchers have discovered that the tripeptide is small enough to penetrate beneath the epidermis or surface layer of the skin and scalp. There are several products and ingredients in the skincare industry that brands claim to be beneficial for the skin, but in reality, very few of them contain small enough molecules to penetrate deeper than the surface layer of skin. Copper peptides are an exception.
What other benefits does copper have?
Copper peptides have been compared to retinol and retinoids for quite some time now because of the way that they work on the skin. Essentially, they promote collagen and elastin production (connective tissues that keep skin smooth and firm) deep within the skin’s layers which in turn increases the rate of skin cell turnover.
This is similar to how tretinoin and other Vitamin A derivatives operate. Increasing skin cell turnover allows the skin to heal itself quicker and reduce the amount of bacteria and dead skin cells that lead to clogged pores.
Promoting the production of collagen and elastin is by far the most beneficial aspect of any skincare ingredient, but copper peptides have far more to offer than just that. Copper peptides have been known to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and sagging skin.
As we age, our skin produces less and less collagen and produces it slower, causing our skin to lose its plumpness and appear saggy. When the skin begins to lose its tautness, the creases and natural folds of the skin appear emphasized and deeper.
Not only do copper peptides help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but they also help by naturally moisturizing the skin. Copper peptides promote the production of glycosaminoglycans otherwise known as GAGs. These polysaccharides are used to support and maintain skin structure, and they include hyaluronan and chondroitin sulfate which operate as water-binding molecules that can hold up to 1000 times their weight in water.
This aspect is crucial for moisture repair and maintenance because it allows the skin to hold onto more water for longer keeping it hydrated throughout the day and despite everyday transepidermal water loss.
How to incorporate copper skincare into your routine
So, we’ve gone over some of the amazing benefits that copper peptides have to offer to the skin. But, how exactly do you incorporate these copper peptides into a routine?
While copper peptides are extremely popular in the skincare community right now, there’s not a wide range of products in which they are available. These peptides are really only found in serums and the occasional facial moisturizer. There may be some brands that promote copper peptide-containing face cleansers, but steer clear of these marketing scams because any wash-off product defeats the purpose and benefits of the active ingredients.
Copper peptides are most popular in serum form and oftentimes most concentrated. These copper peptide serums can be incorporated into your morning and nighttime skincare routine because there is no ingredient that will excessively dry out or sensitize your skin.
It is best used after cleansing your face before moisturizer or sunscreen. If you currently use a hyaluronic acid serum, a copper peptide may be a great substitute because it contains hydrating ingredients but also has added benefits that your HA serum does not.
Best copper skincare products
While copper peptides are not new in the field of science and dermatology, they have just recently begun gaining popularity in the rest of the skincare world. Therefore, there are not a ton of products containing copper peptides that are readily available and accessible at your local drugstore. But, there are some ones out there that have solid research and reviews backing them up:
- Paula’s Choice Peptide Booster ($53)
- Biossance Squalane + Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum ($68)
- The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1% ($30)
All of these are serum or serum-like products containing copper peptides that can be used in the morning or evening underneath a moisturizer. If you have combination or oily skin, you may only need to apply the serum once a day in the morning or evening. If you have drier or moderate skin, using the serum twice a day may help to increase hydration throughout the day.
Remember, for active ingredients like copper peptides, using a wash-off product such as a cleanser or face mask will not pose any serious benefits to the skin. It’s better to invest your money in a serum or even moisturizer that is left on your skin overnight to allow the molecules to do their job.
It seems as though there is always a new product or ingredient in the skincare world that is gaining popularity or has a cult following. But copper peptides are definitely worth the attention because they have serious benefits in multiple aspects of skincare. Try incorporating a copper peptide serum into your routine and watch your skin change for the better.
Written by Jordan Hammaren