Copper peptides are naturally occurring complexes that have been used for a variety of purposes in skin and hair care products since the 1990s. The complexes are a combination of the element copper and three amino acids. In the human body, copper peptides are found in trace amounts in blood plasma, saliva and urine. When used in skin care products, copper peptides can be made in a laboratory setting by combining a solution that contains copper with a substance that is similar to a protein powder.
Investigations into the benefits of copper peptides began in 1973 when biochemist Loren Pickart isolated the complexes from plasma samples. Pickart began searching for copper peptides when he discovered that liver cells obtained from people over the age of 60 could be revitalized by placing them in blood samples sourced from younger people. His goal was to determine precisely what was in the blood that caused this incredible rejuvenation of the cells, and when he identified that substance, copper peptides had been officially discovered.
The research begun by Pickart continued for decades and the results of his work have been reviewed, duplicated and confirmed by numerous independent scientists and physicians. In 1997, the first skin care products that contain copper peptides were released for sale and now, numerous brands offer formulas that are enriched with the complexes.
Copper peptides have been clinically shown to offer a wide variety of benefits for the skin and hair. Often, the complexes are used in skin care lotions, creams and serums designed to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Just as copper peptides had the ability to regenerate liver cells in Pickart’s study, the ingredient can also rejuvenate skin cells in aging tissue, boosting the production of collagen and elastin. Levels of these structural proteins naturally decrease with age, and by increasing the amount available in the tissue, the skin can regain elasticity and strength. This makes many signs of aging less noticeable and slows down the aging process.
The anti-aging benefits of copper peptides are also due to their ability to promote the production of glycosaminoglycans like hyaluronic acid. These substances are found in the connective tissue and fluids in the human body and become depleted with age. The glycosaminoglycans are vital for helping the skin tissue remain plump and supple, and by supplementing their levels, the tissue can fill out and fine lines and wrinkles become less noticeable. Hyaluronic acid also helps the skin retain moisture, making copper peptides beneficial ingredients for products intended to treat dry skin.
Clinical research has established that copper peptides are antioxidants, nutrients that counteract the oxidizing effects of environmental particles called free radicals. Your skin is exposed to free radicals on a daily basis, and over time, the oxidation that they cause can result in cellular damage, which leads to the development of signs of aging. Because copper peptides neutralize free radicals, they can help prevent expression lines and wrinkles from developing prematurely.
In addition to their use in anti-aging skin care products, copper peptides are often found in shampoos and treatments designed to combat hair loss. Studies show that copper peptides have a positive effect on the hair follicles and can stimulate regrowth in areas of thinning and baldness. Its effects are similar to that of the medication minoxidil, which has been used for hair loss treatment for decades. Copper peptides are also capable of reducing the amount of hair loss that occurs due to chemotherapy treatments for cancer for some people.
Due to their natural presence in the human body, copper peptides are not known to cause side effects; however, some products that contain copper peptides could cause irritation and redness in people with sensitive skin due to other ingredients in their formulas.
Research into the benefits of copper peptides continues to this day. The ingredient has been shown in some studies to have the potential to absorb ultraviolet rays from the sun, to stimulate fingernail growth and to provide other benefits to the skin, hair and nails. The potential for the inclusion of copper peptides in new types of skin care products is impressive, and more and more top skin care brands are finding ways to incorporate these powerful natural complexes in their formulas each year.