When it comes to building an effective anti-ageing skincare routine, there are a handful of ingredients that any dermatologist will tell you are crucial, including retinol, Vitamin C and sunscreen. However, copper peptides should be key to your anti-ageing regimen due to their ability and effectiveness in stimulating skin renewal. Copper peptides serve as an antioxidant and boost collagen and elastin production. They also remove the old, hard cells and damaged proteins and replace them with new skin and new proteins.
No one does copper peptides for skin better than Dr. Pickart and Skin Biology. As a leading authority, Dr. Loren Pickart PhD discovered the skin rejuvenating copper peptide GHK-Cu in the 1970s. He became the world’s most famous expert in copper peptide research for skin health and remodelling. He is also the founder of Skin Biology, a highly effective line with some of the best copper peptide-based products on the market today.
Copper peptides may not be one of the most talked-about skincare ingredients, but it is one of the most clever. This skin-storing ingredient is definitely something worth incorporating into your daily skincare routine.
Copper peptides are a real multi-tasking skincare hero thanks to their endless benefits. They help to develop collagen and elastin, which maintain the skin’s strength and promote the production of skin-plumping glycosaminoglycan (think HAs). Unlike other ingredients, which only work on the skin’s surface, copper peptides can reset your skin’s genes to youth and health.
As the world’s leading authority in copper peptides, renowned biochemist Dr. Pickart discovered the original copper peptide GHK-Cu. “Not all copper peptides for skin are equal. Some of them can damage your skin”, warns Dr. Pickart. Choosing the right copper peptide products is key to helping the skin rebuild and rejuvenate itself. Dr. Pickart continues, “The copper peptide molecules not only have the power to shift your skin’s biology from ageing to rejuvenation, but they also do it in a safe and gentle way. With copper peptides, we can tune up the skin’s DNA. This is a rejuvenating technology of the future.”
In many controlled, peer-reviewed published articles, it has been found that GHK may help to:
- Tighten loose skin and thicken older skin
- Repair protective skin barrier proteins
- Improve skin firmness, elasticity, and clarity
- Reduce fine lines, depth of wrinkles, and overall appearance
- Reduce photodamage, mottled hyperpigmentation, skin spots and lesions
- Improve overall appearance
- Act as antioxidants, fighting free radicals and helping repair skin damage
- Increase hair growth and thickness, enlarge hair follicle size
Dr. Pickart has also founded Skin Biology; a biotechnology research company committed to developing and patenting new products to improve the appearance of skin and hair.
Skin Biology and THEIR track record
Dr. Pickart, the original discoverer of skin-building copper peptides
The story of copper peptides began in 1962 when Dr. Pickart started work on human ageing at the University of Minnesota and observed an unusual rejuvenating effect that young blood (from persons 20-25 years of age) had on much older liver cells.
Later, when Dr. Pickart was working on his PhD thesis in Biochemistry at the University of California in San Francisco, he isolated the factor responsible for the superiority of young blood. In 1973, he identified it as the copper-binding tripeptide GHK-Cu (Gly-His-Lys and copper), which is extensively used for its positive skin rejuvenation effects today. In the almost five decades of research that followed, many other researchers from around the world and Dr. Pickart discovered the many exceptional qualities of this molecule. The most dramatic effect was GHK’s ability to reverse the appearance of ageing skin and reduce the appearance of visible signs of skin damage.
Dr. Pickart’s discovery of the human copper peptide GHK (Gly-His-Lys) opened the door to a new understanding of human ageing and the human body’s ageing-defence and youth-enhancing potentials. During his life-long studies on the biochemistry and cell biology of human ageing, Dr. Pickart also discovered SRCPs or Skin Remodelling Copper Peptides, which work amazingly well for anti-ageing.
Skin Biology, for truly stellar results
Dr. Pickart founded Skin Biology in 1994 to develop a new line of products and his second-generation SRCPs, based on new copper peptide complexes, which are more potent, breakdown-resistant and have better skin adherence.
Here his copper peptides discoveries are turned into highly effective anti-ageing creams, serums, and hair products. Skin Biology and Dr. Pickart continue researching the effect of GHK-Cu has on human gene expression — with great help from the Broad Institute in Boston, run by Harvard and MIT.
Skin Biology focuses on designing skin and hair products compatible with the natural renewal systems in the human body. The products are formulated by Dr. Loren Pickart, who has a BA in Chemistry and Mathematics from the University of Minnesota, a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California, San Francisco, and the first person who discovered the miraculous copper-binding molecule GHK.
Skin Biology products have been tested by independent laboratories and classified as non-irritant, non-allergens, and non-carcinogenic.
Improve the look of your skin with Dr. Pickart’s groundbreaking formulas that mimic the biology of younger skin. He has spent over 50 years perfecting his age-defying copper peptides for skin.
But not everything with copper will work well as a copper peptide. Copper cannot just be mixed into an ingredient list as the copper might bind to the wrong compounds and inactivate the good effects on the skin.
In addition to copper peptides for skin, the company’s products are carefully formulated with powerful antioxidants, soothing agents, vitamins and skin-identical lipids to nourish the skin and promote a firmer, younger appearance. The idea is to work with the skin’s own systems rather than introducing foreign substances, like Botox, for an improved skin appearance.
Skin Biology’s handmade copper peptide serums and creams are pH balanced to ensure optimal results in repairing the appearance of past damage, blocking further damage and improving skin hydration. Its powerful copper peptides deliver a firm skin with and a lifted look while visibly reducing the appearance of fine lines and deep wrinkles.
Everything you need to know about copper peptides
What are copper peptides
Copper peptides are a type of tri-peptide complex made up of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. They may stimulate collagen and elastin production as well as increase cell turnover. The amino acids in copper peptides are naturally present in our bodies, but their levels decrease as we age, often leaving us with tiny lines and an overall dull, lacklustre complexion. In skincare, peptides are applied topically via serums and creams and work by signalling to your cells to make more collagen and other complex molecules that support the structure of your skin.
Why would we want to apply copper peptides for skin in the first place
Copper peptides are some of the most advanced skin remodelling ingredients available. They also play an essential role in maintaining healthy-looking skin.
Why do children have such soft and lovely skin? That is a result of how quickly their skin remodels itself. An injury heals speedily, and any imperfections are effortlessly eliminated within a few weeks. But as we age, that process virtually comes to a complete stop. As we age:
- Our cells are replaced every nine weeks or so, as opposed to every three weeks in those 20 and under, and as a result, the skin is becoming thinner and more fragile.
- Between the ages of 15 and 60, our antioxidant defences are reduced by up to 80%.
- Cells accumulate protein damage through exposure to environmental toxins, physiological stresses, and as a product of age. This is manifested in wrinkles, scars, sun damage, and broken capillaries.
- We produce fewer water-retaining proteins, which means less volume.
- We produce less and break down more collagen, which causes loss of volume and wrinkles.
- Finally, the size and effectiveness of the vellus hair follicles have also decreased. Most of our body is covered in thin, colourless hair, and those particular follicles help to produce new stem cells.
- So when that slows down, so does our skin’s ability to regenerate.
So there are many things we need to address, and copper is definitely a key ingredient to speed up your skin’s remodelling process.
The benefits of copper peptides for skin
Copper peptides can help make your skin overall firmer and smoother. When applied topically, copper peptides act as an antioxidant, promote the production of collagen and elastin, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Additionally, copper has anti-inflammatory properties that speed up wound healing, making it effective in treating scarring, pigmentation, and redness caused by inflammation. And if you are acne-prone, it can even help with breakouts by normalising the bacterial concentration on the skin.
Some of the main benefits of copper peptide in more detail include:
INCREASED COLLAGEN AND ELASTIN PRODUCTION: Copper peptides can be beneficial for all skin types and ages (20 and above), significantly boosting elastin and collagen. Your skin will appear visibly firmer and plumper — think bouncy skin. In addition to plumping fine lines and wrinkles for younger-looking skin, copper peptides also encourage hyaluronic acid production, which helps keep the skin stay elastic and firm.
ANTIOXIDANT PROPERTIES: Copper peptides act as an antioxidant when applied topically.
Daily exposure to environmental stress — such as pollution and sunlight — triggers free radicals and unstable oxygen molecules that break down collagen and accelerate ageing. Antioxidants protect collagen and guard cells against damage by reducing the concentration of free radicals in the skin. So, with the help of antioxidants, you can fend off free radical exposure to combat accelerated signs of ageing.
WOUND HEALING: For decades, the primary function of copper peptides was to aid the skin in wound healing. According to studies, copper peptides are beneficial to the skin’s fibroblasts, which in turn produce the essential growth factors required for optimal skin repair. Copper peptides may be beneficial in supporting the healing of sensitised skin post-in-office procedures such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels and laser treatments. Copper peptides also have anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial to healing skin, making them excellent for treating scarring, pigmentation and inflammation-related redness.
ADDRESSING DISCOLORATION AND ACNE SCARS: In addition to assisting in the production of new collagen and elastin, copper peptides for skin are believed to be effective at removing damaged collagen. As a result, this can help reduce the look of sunspots and acne scars. Additionally, the aforementioned anti-inflammatory qualities can aid in reducing discolouration.
Not all copper peptides work or give good results
As with anything, not all copper peptide products are created equal and may not achieve desired results. During Skin Biology’s copper peptide safety tests, the company examined similar copper peptides with very different results. For instance, GHK-Cu (Gly-His-Lys) produced excellent skin rejuvenation, while two very similar peptides (Gly-Lys-His-Cu and His-Gly-Lys) did not improve skin quality.
Therefore, the concentration and composition of the formulations are critical for maximal results. The highest grade products are those from Skin Biology’s first generation (GHK-Cu) line. And the company’s 2nd generation copper peptides use the same peptides currently found in hospitals for intravenous feeding of patients.
What are 1st and 2nd generation copper peptides
It is worth knowing that two generations of the copper peptides exist:
GHK-CU — 1ST GENERATION OF COPPER PEPTIDES: GHK-Cu was discovered in 1973 by Dr. Pickart, PhD.
GHK is also known as tripeptide-1 and is made up of three amino acids: glycine, histidine and lysine. The signal peptide GHK works in combination with Cu (copper) in the skin and controls the anti-ageing factors. The original GHK copper was created for anti-ageing purposes, but it was quickly discovered that it also helped immensely with wound healing.
Because it is a more fragile peptide, you must be careful what you apply it with, or it will break down. That means Retin-A or hydroxy acids cannot be used simultaneously with GHK-Cu. You will have to apply them to the skin at various times of the day. Alternatively, you can switch to second-generation copper peptide products.
SRCP — THE SECOND GENERATION OF COPPER PEPTIDES: SRCP – also known as the Skin Remodelling Copper Peptides – is the second generation that Dr. Pickart found in the early 1990s. It was created to have a higher potency, better breakdown resistance, and more efficient adherence to the skin. They are exceptionally helpful in healing wounds rapidly, reducing redness and inflammation, as well as stimulating a strong remodelling of intact, undamaged skin.
To summarise, the first generation is milder and better for damaged, older and dry skin types. They are used mostly for anti-ageing. The 2nd generation is best used for scars, heavy lines and skin irregularities that need reduction or removal.
Are copper peptides for skin safe
The use of GHK-Cu has been intensively studied, and effective dermal dosages have been determined. According to Dr. Pickart, no adverse effects have ever been observed at any reasonable dosage up to and over 3% GHK-Cu.
Skin Biology’s second-generation copper peptides use peptides from soybean proteins that have been broken down and used for intravenous feeding of hospital patients for many decades. They are very safe.
Does copper from copper peptide products enter the bloodstream
Very little copper from copper peptide skin products penetrates through the skin, still producing great cosmetic results. Tests of copper peptide products have found that only about 0.1% or less of copper passes through the skin. Fatty molecules, on the other hand, enter the skin significantly more easily.
When Skin Biology’s Protect & Restore Cream was used twice daily (four grams per day) for two weeks on six people with irritated skin, there were no changes in blood copper levels, or any other significant blood chemistry changes, according to a very short 2-week study.
In conclusion, normal usage of a copper peptide product might result in a minimal uptake of copper. For example, according to Dr. Pickart, if one used two grams of product daily that contained two milligrams of copper, and if the skin uptake was at 0.1% penetration, this would introduce about 0.002 milligrams of copper into your body. If penetration through the skin was as high as 1%, your body uptake would still be about 0.02 milligrams or 1% of the RDA for copper.
So using copper peptides daily for the care of skin adds a negligible amount of copper to the body.
Can copper peptides be used with Vitamin A
Yes, copper peptides can be used with Vitamin A, but with caution. The company recommends the following when using Retin-A with Skin Biology’s copper peptide products:
If you are using a copper-peptide oil-free serum (or liquid): Apply the copper peptides first, and then lightly top with your Retin-A cream.
If you are using a copper-peptide cream: The cream versions of Skin Biology’s products may prevent Retin-A uptake due to their fatty molecule composition. Therefore, it may be better first to apply your Retin-A product, then lightly add copper peptides on top. Retin-A may increase the uptake of copper peptides applied topically, depending on the strength prescribed to the client. Thus, Copper-peptides from Skin Biology may feel more potent when used along with Retin-A.
Can you use Vitamin C and copper peptides together
Biochemically, Ascorbic Acid, an antioxidant Vitamin C, and collagen-encouraging copper peptides should be opposed to another, with the copper cancelling out the effects of the vitamin C. The copper oxidises the ascorbic acid and speeds up its breakdown, which means it has no time to do the job.
However, Dr. Pickart says that in the past, Skin Biology advised clients to use their vitamin C products on alternate days than the copper peptides. However, in practical application, it does not seem to pose as much of a problem as he had once thought.
The efficacy of topical vitamin C products depends on their formulation. Dr. Pickart says. Vitamin C is hard to get into the skin except at a very low pH. Skin Biology has many clients who use copper peptides for skin along with their topical Vitamin C products and have reported nothing but great results. So, according to Dr. Pickard, it should be fine to use the two together. When applying your skincare products, it is best to leave about 10-15 minutes in between applications to avoid unwanted irritation, redness, and general discomfort to the skin.
The only caution is with a high percentage Vitamin C product (20-25%+) since temporary tinting of the skin may result. If an individual plans on using a topical with a high concentration of vitamin C, it would be best to use their copper peptide products separately or at the opposite end of the day.
Popular skincare ingredients you should never use together with copper peptides
Skincare experts agreed that copper peptides are very safe and rarely result in side effects. However, there are a few ingredients you should not use in conjunction with copper peptides at the same time in your skincare routine. You should avoid using copper peptides simultaneously as the following ingredients:
ZINC OXIDE: The issue with zinc oxide sunscreens is that if the zinc oxide breaks down, it can release zinc ions, which could then interfere with the actions of the copper ions.
It is also worth mentioning that many have reported enlarged pores when using zinc oxide products. Dr. Pickart’s reasoning is that if the zinc oxide is going to block copper, it might also block skin rejuvenation which may be why so many reports enlarged pores when using zinc.
He recommends that the best solution would be to just use the copper-peptide product at another time of day. For example, use your copper-peptide product in the evening and your zinc oxide product in the morning. Or he also said that you could apply a barrier (i.e. Emu Oil) between the copper peptide product and zinc oxide product. This may help.
AHAs & BHAs: AHA and BHA products could potentially break down the copper peptides and reduce their efficacy.
Copper peptides for skin may accelerate healing after plastic surgery and face treatments
Copper peptides are great in skin healing and regeneration, especially after surgery. For instance, copper peptides are often recommended after non-invasive skin procedures such as laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, chemical peels, and microneedling.
For post mirconeedling, Skin Biology recommends Super GHK Serum. If you do not have sensitive skin, try using the Skin Signals Solution or the 3% GHK Serum, both from Skin Biology.
After any high percentage peel: Use only a diluted, light amount of a mild copper-peptide liquid. Do not use very strong copper peptide products or any method of exfoliation or hydroxy acid, as there will be no need to exfoliate after such a procedure. For proper recovery, it is essential to use mild products after a strong peel. Use only a diluted light amount of Skin Biology’s GHK-Copper Serum or CP Serum.
After any laser procedure: Use only a diluted light amount of GHK-Copper Serum or CP Serum, both from Skin Biology. Do not use very strong copper peptide products or any method of exfoliation or hydroxy acid, as there will be no need to exfoliate after such a procedure.
Always review your at-home regimen with your dermatologist or esthetician.
A few tips and tricks for skin tightening from Dr. Pickart
Keep in mind that for biological skin tightening, our skin needs copper in addition to Vitamin C. Tightening occurs as the skin’s fibroblasts pull collagen fibres together. Then the collagen fibres are attached to each other by the fibroblasts using enzymes. For these enzymes to function, they need both Copper 2 and Vitamin C.
Without having a high amount of each in your skin, you cannot achieve a tightening effect.
While Copper 2 is best supplied topically, Vitamin C can be ingested by consuming at least 1 gram daily or with a topical Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) that has a pH lower than 3.5. Another recommendation is to take a daily dosage of 1 gram MSM to provide your skin with the natural sulfur required to produce skin proteins.
When applying copper peptides for skin, less is always more. Do not overuse it. Start with a few drops and work your way up from there.
Product recommendations for optimal results
Which copper peptide product is right for my skin
Product recommendations depend on your skin type, behaviour, issues you want to address, and skincare goals. Regardless of your skin type, condition, or skin goals, Skin Biology offers a wide array of copper peptide products. They come in a variety of potencies, types and mixtures. Dr. Pickart has a scale of the strength of his coppers. It ranges from 1 to 28. Below is a list of the best copper peptide products from Skin Biology to consider for your unique skin type.
FOR ANTI-AGEING OR DULLNESS: Use the 3% GHK Luxury GHK Serum or the 3% GHK Luxury GHK Cream. The 3% GHK VIP Luxury Serum is the strongest concentration of GHK-Cu in an oil-free formulation. It reduces the visible signs of ageing with triple the amount of the original GHK-Copper – the first skin rejuvenating copper peptide tested and proven to generate real results. It has the ability to restore a youthful glow and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, this unique copper peptide serum helps nurture and restore skin smoothness, radiance and elasticity for a fresh and youthful complexion.
For those with drier skin, use the ultra-moisturising version: 3% GHK Luxury Cream with the strongest concentration of GHK-Cu in a cream formulation. Dr. Pickart’s exclusive VIP Cream contains triple the amount of original GHK-Copper – the first skin rejuvenating copper peptide tested and proven to generate real results. It will help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, smooth skin texture, and fade skin imperfections. This unique cream has skin-identical antioxidants that protect that skin from environmental aggressors, maintaining a healthy and radiant look. This product contains Spanish lavender essential oil blended with amino acids and biological moisturisers such as aloe vera to restore smoothness, brightness and elasticity. Both the serum and the cream come with a strength rating of 15.6.
FOR HYPER-PIGMENTATION: The breakthrough Super CP (Copper Peptide) Serum improves an oily look and reveals radiantly beautiful skin. It is an oil-free product specially formulated for fast delivery. Super CP Serum contains a potent combination of biochemist Dr. Pickart’s 2nd generation copper peptides blended with salicylic acid and natural antioxidants. It is best as an overall cosmetic application to reduce the appearance of sun damage, blemishes, deep wrinkles, enlarged pores and hyperpigmentation. It works well on blemish-prone skin. It is also a great skin needling serum for use with microneedling devices such as Derminator, Dermaroller, or Dermastamp. The serum comes with a strength rating of 8.
FOR SAGGING SKIN: Use Skin Signals Cream/Solution and the Two Timing Tightener 2X. For powerful preventative skin maintenance and improvement, both the Skin Signals Solution and the Skin Signals Cream are loaded with active peptides and natural antioxidants. The revolutionary formula combines peptides produced from enzymatically hydrolysed collagen and elastin with copper. The unique skincare products help mimic the biology of younger skin, boost your skin’s own collagen production and elastin, fight the look of skin slackening, and diminish the appearance of wrinkles to lift the look of ageing skin visibly. The solution and the cream contain three vital peptides. Each of these three types of copper peptides has its own unique action on your skin: GHK-Copper, Elastin Copper Peptides and Collagen Copper Peptides. Both products have a strength rating of 7.
Get improved skin firming and elasticity with Skin Biology’s Two Timing Tightener 2X, which has twice the concentration of DMAE (6%) and Pepha Tight. DMAE is a natural compound helpful for wrinkles, under-eye dark circles, nasolabial folds and loose, sagging skin. Pepha Tight not only has immediate firming effects, but it improves the look of skin elasticity over time. Dr. Pickart has further added his own blend of skin-healthy antioxidants to this light serum that enhances your chosen copper peptide product.
FOR WOUND HEALING/OLD ACNE SCARS: TriReduction Cream is a triple-action peptide filled with Dr. Loren Pickart’s second-generation copper peptides plus skin compatible lipids, protective antioxidants, and a high level of anti-ageing retinol to reinvigorate your skin. The cream boasts Hydroxy acids to exfoliate older skin cells, plus advanced copper peptide technology to encourage true anti-ageing. It has a strength rating of 11.
Make way for copper peptides — the must-have skincare ingredient for damaged or ageing skin
Copper peptides are true multi-taskers that will benefit anyone whose skin is damaged — whether free radical damage (loose skin, fine lines, age spots etc.), scarring or redness caused by breakouts. Copper peptides trigger your skin to visibly repair and rejuvenate and are used in skincare to stimulate your skin’s natural production of collagen and elastin. If you need your skin to repair itself, incorporating copper into your routine will speed up the process.
Designed by world-renowned biochemist Dr. Pickart, Skin Biology’s products utilise his knowledge of human ageing and biochemistry. They have perfected true skin rejuvenation for healthy ageing.
Disclaimer: These products are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure, or prevent disease. If you have a pre-existing skin condition, please consult a physician prior to use.