What are copper peptides?
Copper is an element that occurs naturally in our body tissues. When low levels of copper are present in our bodies, it is associated with the formation of degenerative diseases. One primary role of copper is that it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. This is one reason as to why it is used as a skincare product.
Since the 1990s, copper peptides have been used in hair and skin care products. In a lab, copper peptides can be made by combining a copper solution with a protein-like powder mixture.
Functions of copper peptides
According to studies done by a Cleveland Clinic, copper peptides act as antioxidants, as well as agents that promote the production of elastin, glycosaminoglycans and collagen. Copper peptides are also associated with removing damaged elastin and collagen from scar tissues from the skin.
Copper peptides are also essential in hair growth. They work to increase the follicle cell proliferation and also to reduce the death of follicle cells. This claim has been supported by a study in rat hair, where the size of the rat hair follicle increased when copper peptides were introduced.
Debunking the myths of copper peptides
Myth: it is only the GHK-Cu that counts
Truth: copper peptide has three amino acids, making it a tripeptide. The most common amino acid is the GHK because its molecules are small and they can easily bind with larger ones easily. It is also the most common version because it has been studied for many decades in different studies. In recent years, there are many gentler and more effective varieties that have been developed.
Myth: an overuse of copper peptides can lead to ageing
Truth: there are lots of discussions online about how overusing copper peptides can make one look older. In some forums, people have mentioned the idea that overuse can cause the skin to lose its elasticity. The theory behind this claim is not properly defined because the amount of the copper peptide that can be regarded as an overuse has not been clearly defined. There are no studies that have been shown to ascertain this claim because all the studies you can look at point to the fact that the copper peptides have positive effects on elastin and collagen.
When it comes to ageing, Copper peptides have the ability to promote the production of hyaluronic acid and glycosaminoglycans. These are substances that can be found in body fluids and connective tissues. As you age, these substances are depleted. The glycosaminoglycans help by supplementing and maintaining the skin’s supple and plump nature. This causes the wrinkles to become less visible. On the other hand, Hyaluronic acid helps to retain the moisture of the skin, making the copper peptides the ideal ingredients of treating dry skin.
Myth: copper is toxic
Truth: you can easily get free radicals from inorganic copper. But when it comes to copper that is converted to organic forms, it can be used on the skin with minimal risk.
Myth: you cannot combine copper peptides and vitamin C
Truth: there is a rumour that vitamin C and copper peptides are not a good combination because vitamin C disqualifies the net effect of copper in the body. This is not a well-researched claim because there is no concrete evidence that supports it. The only evidence that is available, although it is highly uncommon, is that when the two substances interact, the copper peptide is replaced by vitamin C which acts as a chelating agent. This reaction will heavily depend on the concentrations of the two substances. But generally, the effect of the two substances mixing is very minimal. Now, although there is some truth to the statement, it is often blown out of proportion.
Copper peptides are used in combination with Retin-A (tretinoin) to reduce the inflammation on the skin after cosmetic procedures like laser treatment, dermabrasion, and chemical peels.