Dermatologists Say Copper Skincare Is the Key to Youthful Skin
If you consider yourself a skincare enthusiast, you know that metallics in skincare is nothing new. From 24k gold-infused serums to colloidal silver facial mists, elemental alchemy has become the new norm for beauty. And it's not just because they're shiny and pretty (although that's definitely a marketing plus)—dermatologists and even Hippocrates (the "Father of Medicine") have long used the elements for their antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
The newest metal to the skincare world is atomic number 29, aka copper—specifically copper peptides. It's a bit of a dark horse in the skincare conversation when compared to gold and silver, but it plays a major role in boosting elastin and collagen. In other words, it's an anti-aging goldmine (coppermine?).
But don't just take our word for it. We spoke to Tiffany J. Libby MD, FAAD, board-certified and Reserveage's resident dermatologist, to get the lowdown on copper peptides in skincare.
What Are Copper Peptides?
Peptides are short chains of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. They exist naturally in our body, but the amount of copper peptides in our body decreases as we age. "In skincare, peptides are applied topically via serums and creams and work by signaling to your cells to produce more collagen and other complex molecules that help support skin's structure," says Dr. Libby. The copper peptides that you see in skincare products can be synthetically made or derived from plant and/or animal sources.
Benefits of Copper Peptides
Copper peptides essentially turn back your skin's clock, making it overall firmer and smoother. "They've been shown in studies to induce collagen production in fibroblasts in vitro," says Dr. Libby. "This is likely because copper is known to be a critical component involved in the formation of enzymes. When applied topically, copper peptides work as an antioxidant, promote collagen and elastin production, and soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles."
Copper is also an anti-inflammatory that speeds up wound healing, meaning it's great for treating scarring, pigmentation, and redness caused by inflammation. And if you're acne-prone, it can even help with breakouts by normalizing bacterial concentration on the skin.
Side Effects of Copper Peptides
According to Dr. Libby, there are minimal to no side effects to copper peptides when applied topically, so you can apply knowing it's largely non-irritating and not known to cause allergic reactions. But as with any new product, she recommends introducing it gradually to your routine and starting with one new product only for that week.
How to Use Copper Peptides
The good news is that there aren't any known ingredients that can't be paired with copper peptides. Apply it twice daily for best results—it will provide protection in the day and repair skin overnight.
But since it's not inherently moisturizing, try to use copper peptides with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which work as humectants to draw moisture to the skin's barrier. "They also work well with retinols and retinoids, as both can work in parallel to stimulate more collagen production and minimize unwanted brown spots and pigmentation," says Dr. Libby.
And if you want another anti-aging booster, try mixing it with niacinamide. "Niacinamide is another great ingredient that copper peptides pair well with as it helps to minimize redness and brighten skin, all which help improve skin's overall tone and appearance."
Best Copper Skincare
Don't worry—you don't need to go mining to reap the skincare benefits of copper. Here is an editor-approved list of the best copper peptide serums you can buy.