What Are the Benefits of Copper Peptides?

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A woman's face being held by gloved medical hands. (Image: absolutimages/iStock/Getty Images)

Copper peptides are small segments of copper proteins that are tiny enough to easily penetrate the skin. Dermatologists and other medical professionals have long recognized the potential benefits of copper--in small quantities--for skin and hair care. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that biochemist Loren Pickart discovered that copper peptides could deliver the benefits of the mineral without risk of exposure to hazardous levels of copper, according to Copper.org.

Slows Aging of Skin

Exposure to sunlight, other environmental hazards and free radicals all contribute to the decline in the skin’s appearance that is associated with aging. Copper peptides have unique properties that can slow the effects of aging on the skin, according to nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman and Ann Castro, authors of “Living Beauty Detox Program.” The copper works with vitamin C to promote the growth of elastin and collagen, which give skin a renewed and more youthful appearance, the authors point out.

In addition to promoting the growth of collagen and elastin, copper peptides help to activate and stimulate superoxide dismutase, or SOD, a powerful antioxidant enzyme that occurs naturally in the body. SOD combats the free radicals that cause premature aging of the skin. Gittleman and Castro explain that SOD also promotes the body’s ability to get the most out of the biochemical energy found in new tissue, such as new outer layers of skin that are constantly being created. To ensure that your skin looks plumped up and well moisturized, copper peptides stimulate the creation of glycosaminoglycans, which retain moisture in the skin’s inner cells.

Speeds Healing of Damaged Skin

Although copper peptides are used most widely today to improve the appearance of aging skin, Loren Pickart’s original findings in the 1970s focused on their ability to regenerate tissue in cases where skin had been scarred or damaged, as in a burn or as a result of other medical conditions, such as acne and diabetes-related wounds. The scars characteristic of such damage are made up of “extra-large” clumps of collagen, according to SmartSkinCare.com. Pickart discovered that copper peptides helped to break down this scar tissue and replace it with the “smaller or more regular collagen found in normal skin.” The peptides also stimulate the production of other components essential to healthy skin, including elastin, glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans.

Promotes Hair Growth, Health

Because hair is just a variant of the same tissue that makes up the body’s skin, it’s not altogether surprising that copper peptides have properties that help keep hair looking vibrant and healthy. Leslie Baumann, M.D., author of “Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles and Practice,” points out that GHK, a naturally occurring copper peptide complex, is widely used in the treatment of hair loss and post-hair-transplant maintenance. She reports that Iamin, a copper peptide product approved by the FDA in 1996 for wound healing, has promoted hair growth in patients using the product for wound healing. Baumann says that many patients using Iamin also found that the product strengthened their existing hair.

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