Copper Peptides are enjoying a surge in popularity as more and more consumers discover the benefits of this remarkable skincare active. Find out what all the fuss is about below
What are Copper Peptides?
Skincare products containing copper peptides are all the rage at the amount with consumers searching for products online and at their favourite beauty counters. Just as hyaluronic Acid was causing all that fuss a couple of years ago now it seems that Copper Peptides are attracting all the attention.
Copper Peptides are to be found typically in moisturising creams and serums.
Copper peptide GHK-CU is a naturally occurring tri-peptide that is composed of three amino acids bonded to a copper molecule. It is found naturally in human blood where it performs a number of important biological functions.
Copper Peptides first came to prominence in the field of medicine where it was found that topically applied copper peptides significantly improved wound healing and reduced scar tissue formation following significant skin injury and trauma. Before long the cosmetic benefits of copper peptides were recognised and a growing number of skincare products began to appear on the market.
Clinical research has demonstrated that GHK-Cu is able to pass through the lipid barrier of the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of skin) and to reach epidermal cells. Moreover, GHK-Cu complex appears to be the only peptide-copper complex that can penetrate stratum corneum membranes. At present, GHK-Cu undoubtedly has more scientific support data than any peptide used in today’s cosmetic practice.
As mentioned above Copper Peptides first gained prominence in the field of medicine as a wound healing agent but fortunately it is not necessary to suffer significant skin trauma to enjoy the benefits of this remarkable active agent.
Research shows that copper peptides have the ability to break down large agglomerations of collagen fibres. Scar tissue is primarily composed of disordered bundles of collagen as the skins primary concern is to repair damaged skin as quickly as possible and is less concerned with appearance. So at the site of any wounds or burns we have visibly different areas of skin to the rest of the local area.
If copper peptides have the ability to break down badly organised collagen fibres and allow normal skin remodelling to take place the potential benefits are enormous.
Although unlikely to be able to remodel deep scars ( post operative scars, or those formed following significant trauma) it is reasonable to expect some reduction in scar tissue and the emergence of a more ‘normal’ skin profile to take place. So improvements to post acne scars, stretch marks, and minor imperfections is achievable.
In order to effect the best possible outcome it may be necessary to injure the skin once again at the wound site.
Skin needling is a technique whereby a stainless steel roller embedded with tiny needles is rolled across the skin creating thousands of microscopically small punctures. The skin detects this minor damage and triggers a repair response to manufacture collagen and elastin fibres to repair the tiny punctures. Applying copper peptides to the area will enhance the repair process by degrading the poorly organised collagen and elastin fibres that resulted in the scarring and ensuring that new newly formed collagen and elastin is better formed. Over time and with repeated applications the damaged collagen will be replaced and a better skin profile will develop.
Skin needling rollers are available with various needle sizes. For complexions it is recommended to use a needle length of 0.2mm to 0.3mm whilst for the body (buttocks, thighs, and stomach, a needle length of 0.5mm to 1mm is recommended. Please be aware that the longer the needle length the likelier the skin will bleed. Stick to short needle lengths for the complexion
There is a secondary benefit which will enhance the process. The skin is designed to prevent penetration by chemicals and depending on the molecular size of those chemicals the skin will prevent much absorption by even beneficial skincare active ingredients. The creation of thousands of tiny holes dramatically increases the ability of active ingredients to pass through the stratum corneum (the thin layer of skin composed of already dead skin cells that functions as a barrier) and reach the epidermis where the active ingredients are needed.
A therapy consisting of applying a copper peptide serum immediately after needling the skin offers the best possible chance of improving minor scarring. This method ought to work on stretch marks too. Stretch marks are formed when the skin is stretched following weight gain, pregnancy, or growth spurts. The tell tale marks are actually tears in the collagen fibres. Copper peptides will degrade the damaged collagen fibres and allow better organised collagen fibres to replace them.
Copper Peptides and General Improvements to the Complexion
A clinical study by Abdulghani et al. established that facial cream containing GHK-Cu increased collagen in photo-aged skin of 20 female volunteers, performing better than vitamin C and retinoic acid.
Leyden et al. conducted a 12-week facial study of GHK-Cu containing face and eye cream, reporting significant improvement of skin laxity, clarity and appearance, reduced fine lines and the depths of wrinkles and increased skin density and thickness comparing to placebo. GHK-Cu eye cream performed better than vitamin K cream.
A study by Pickart and Margolina found that GHK-Cu peptides provoked significant skin regeneration benefits
Copper Peptides and Skin Hydration
Studies have demonstrated that GHK-Cu peptides promote the development of glycosaminoglycans (such as hyaluronic acid). Hyaluronic acid is present in human skin and acts as a reservoir of water to keep the skin hydrated and supple. Indeed hyaluronic acid has the remarkable ability to hold water 500 times it’s own weight!
Finkley et al. conducted a 12 week facial study on 67 women and reported that GHK-Cu cream applied twice daily improved aged skin appearance, increased thickness, reduced wrinkles and strongly stimulated skin cell growth. The same study found copper peptide GHK-Cu to be non-toxic and non-irritating.
Whether or not copper peptides are the elixir of youth is debatable but the science and supporting evidence from clinical trials suggest that significant improvements to the complexion are achievable.
- Reduction of minor scars
- Reduction of lines and wrinkles
- Increased skin density
- Clearer and more radiant complexions
- Accelerated recovery of damaged skin
- Improved skin hydration
Copper peptides are readily available in creams and serums and ought to be considered as an important and valuable addition to your skincare routine.
Copper Peptide Serums with GHK-Cu in Hyaluronic Acid are available at