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copper rock

How copper peptides help wrinkles and hair growth

Reviewed by Marta September 8, 2009 21 Comments

Copper peptides have been studied since the 1970s and been in skincare products for past 20 years and, still today they are regarded as one of the most potent skin regeneration actives. As the Cleveland Clinic points out, studies have shown that copper peptide promotes collagen and elastin production, and also acts as an antioxidant. It also promotes production of glycosaminoglycans. Clinical studies have found that copper peptides also remove damaged collagen and elastin from the skin and scar tissue because they activate the skin’s system responsible for those functions.

The father of copper peptides is Dr Loren Pickart, who founded Skin Biology, makers of the Folligen product for thinning hair and Super Cop 2X. Dr Pickart made the original discovery that the tripeptide GHK, a specific copper peptide, could “remodel” human tissue. He recently sent me an article of his that was published in the 2009 American Academy Of Anti-aging Medicine’ Anti-Aging Therapeutics Vol Xl. I now have a better understanding of how copper peptides work on wrinkles and thinning hair, brows and lashes.

Copper is something that exists naturally in our tissues. Depletion of it has for a long time been correlated with many degenerative diseases (is that why my grandmother wore a copper bracelet to fend of rheumatic pain?). One of the main roles of copper is anti-inflammatory – it works by suppressing inflammatory cytokines - and there is a growing school of thought that increased inflammation brings about aging. According to Dr P, the processes that cause chronic inflammation as we age could be the same as those in wounds. There is a 60% drop in our bodies’ own GHK between the ages of 20 and 60.

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The reason why Dr P insists on the GHK tripeptide is because the molecules are really small and can bind to receptors more easily than larger ones and it works like an intercellular pack mule, transporting copper into and from cells.  Numerous studies have shown it helps the healing of all sorts of things from infected wounds to ulcers. And there are studies, such as one conducted in Korea, that demonstrated that copper encouraged collagen synthesis.

There have also been several studies on wrinkle repair. An independent 2002 study on 20 women showed that it increased collagen in 70% of those treated with GHK, compared to 50% for vitamin C and 40% for retinoic acid. I was particularly interested to read that combining GHK with red LED lights (get out those Baby Quasars) has been shown to increase collagen production by fibroblasts.

This is not to say that GHK is the only form of copper that is effective. Copper pca or copper chloride work too. A study on copper tripeptide (from amino acids) showed that it may help against inflammatory diseases when used topically.

Copper’s ability to assist in hair growth was discovered when it was noticed that the hair follicles around treated wounds were exceptionally large. It seems to work on the follicle in two ways: increasing follicle cell proliferation; and copper also decreases programmed follicle cell death, which results in smaller follicles. In a study on rat hair, researchers noted an increase in follicle size and concluded that copper works on hair growth in a similar way to minoxidil.

Why GHKs should be so important and successful is a question that takes us to barnacles – and other primitive forms of marine invertebrate. The theory is that GHK originated in the ancient (barnacles date back 400 million years) marine protective systems

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  • January 6, 2015

    by Rosie

    Hi I am an electrologiest, I have encounter a problem with some of my costumers whom suffer of excessive facial/body unwanted hair growth. They have the copper t iud. Could this be the reason why they can't get results fast with electrolysis hair removal. Could this copper release into their body's be the reason for their hair growth? Your comments are very appreciated.

  • December 10, 2009

    by marta

    Joan,
    The copper used by isomers (see ingredient list for Isomers Copper P serum below) is <a href="http://www.truthinaging.com/ingredients/saccharomycescopper-ferment" rel="nofollow">saccharomyces/copper ferment</a>. This is an extract of yeast fermented in the presence of copper ions that may have antioxidant properties. However , there is little scientific information about it.

    Water/Aqua, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Saccharomyces/Magnesium Ferment, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Saccharomyces/Iron Ferment, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment, Saccharomyces/Silicon Ferment, Biotin, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

  • December 10, 2009

    by Joan Gilmore

    Hi Marta: Do you know the what the difference is between the clear and the green copper peptides. I have read positive reviews about Isomer's "clear" copper peptide and Skin Biology's "green" copper peptide and was curious if they were the same thing.

  • December 9, 2009

    by marta

    Lianda, I just rub a small amount into my damp scalp after showering and before drying my hair. The scalp can also be dry but the cream is less absorbent. You have to rub for a number of seconds for the alarming turquoise color to disappear. The makers of Folligen recommend trying it every three days to start and building up slowly as it can cause irritation at first (although it never did for me). I use it every other day, because that's how often I wash my hair.

  • December 9, 2009

    by Lianda

    THere were no directions on the Folligen cream about how to use to thicken and grow hair on your scalp. Any suggestions?

  • November 30, 2009

    by marta

    Claudia
    There is an interaction between vitamin C and copper, but that is the only one that I am aware of.

  • November 28, 2009

    by Claudia Brodhead

    Please speak about the interaction between copper and other antioxidants and substances found in face cream. It was my understanding that a serum or cream containing copper could not be used with any other substance. That is the copper ghk would become inactive. I would appreciate any information on this subject.

  • October 23, 2009

    by Junko

    I have used Super Cop 2X for almost a year now. You do have to gradually build up to be able to use them without irritation/redness. At first I was using it at night on scars and deep wrinkles. For about 6 months now I've been using the Super Cop 2X in the am all over my face and even under my eyes. I might be a perfect excessive use candidate, as I put NutraLift Rejuv Therapy (also containing CP) on top of the Super Cop 2X! I don't think that I'm more wrinkled or sagging than when I started 6 months ago when I began using it liberally all over my face. I think the CP's have helped the overall appearance of my skin. But, these CP products haven't made my 48 year old face look 20 either...so I'll keep trying other products too. I'll be sure to let you all know though, should my face slide down to my chest one day from my CP overuse :)

  • October 20, 2009

    by Lori

    Thank you for your quick response!

    You are appreciated greatly,

    Lori

  • October 20, 2009

    by marta

    Hi Lori, the quotation from Skincaretalk.com is on a number of websites. But there is no citation anywhere. From what I have been able to learn it is theoretically possible to have an excess of copper which could increase the levels of free copper and/or trigger excessive production of metalloproteinases. But I can't find any research or studies where this has been demonstrated, or what the amount would be. Although copper isn't an antioxidant (it has an antioxidant-like effect on cells), it struck me to look at the possibility of antioxidant overdose. This is possible and well-documented. However, antioxidant overdosing tends to come from taking supplements and from taking only one kind (eg a lot of vitamin E). It seems to be that we need complex mixtures of different vitamins, minerals etc. So extrapolating this to copper, I would say you would need to be using a lot and to the exclusion of other things and so until I have anything else more intelligent to say, it is probably good to use products that have a balance of different ingredients.

  • October 20, 2009

    by marta

    Lori. Thank you for this. We'll research this further and get back to you.

  • October 19, 2009

    by Lori

    I just came across some information on skincaretalk.com regarding a warning about the use of CP's on skin that is not used on damaged skin. Here is a sample of what is posted...

    "While moderate use of copper peptides aids in skin regeneration, large amounts or excessive use can actually create the opposite effect, heightening levels of "free copper" which promotes free radical damage and collagen breakdown instead of preventing it. Excessive use can actually lead to accelerated skin aging, skin weakening, sag and wrinkles. For this reason, only use the recommended daily amount to avoid any negative side effects. There have been rare reports of copper peptide topical use and irritation and redness amongst individuals with sensitive skin, particularly around the delicate under-eye region."


    Would you mind looking into this and commenting on this warning?

    much thanks

  • September 9, 2009

    by Amy

    Dr. P has a website where you can read all about CP. I've been using his Super Copper Serum and also the emu oil (supposedly emu oil helps to push the products into your skin for improved efficacy). It's only been about 3-1/2 weeks and I've already noticed a slight improvement in the deep creases between my eyebrows (aka "The Grand Canyon"). I love their philosophy of "less is more"; I have only 4 products to use, 1-2 in the am 2-3 at night; also their products are to be used sparingly so a little goes a long way. I also like that when you call you get a human being right off the bat, no auto attendant and maze of "options" in the hopes of actually speaking to a live person; very friendly and very knowledgeable. I love their stuff so much that I have, for the first time in my 43 year on this planet, cleaned out the too numerous to mention vials, tubes, and containers of all other items I have tried. I am a reformed product junkie, you name it, I've tried it; I've given them all up for Dr. P and his CP products.
    www.skinbiology.com

  • September 8, 2009

    by Susan Mortenson

    I am waiting in anticipation for your round-up! I have used Folligen on my eyebrows and it really helped them become thicker. My girlfriend who is in her sixties had hardly any brows left beyond the arches and after using Folligen she has brows again.

    I bought Super Cop but don't use it regularly, so I'm looking forward to the education.

    Thanks,
    Susan

  • September 8, 2009

    by admin

    No, you'd have to use a cream formulated for the face with copper peptide in it. But Ha Ly, you are too young for it - you need to be wrinkled.

  • September 8, 2009

    by ha ly

    Can you just apply the Folligen on the face as a cream/lotion? I'm confused...

  • September 8, 2009

    by rileygirl

    Thank you very much, Marta!

  • September 8, 2009

    by marta

    He sent me a hard copy (I suspect the journal is subscription only). But I'll try to get some more info, especially on LED.

  • September 8, 2009

    by rileygirl

    This is very interesting. Is there any way you can post the article that Dr. P sent you?

    Do you have any more information on using GHK with the LED's? Would you apply the GHK and then use the LED?

  • September 8, 2009

    by marta

    PSF does look interesting - and simple (water, 2% GHK copper peptides, propylene glycol, sodium pca, mushroom betaglucans, phenoxyethanol, insoitol, hydroxyethylcellulose). The thing about copper peptides is that they have to have something to repair - eg a wrinkle or acne scar. If you are a 30-something with either of those then yes, but use in a targeted way. If not, then go for antioxidants.

  • September 8, 2009

    by Asya

    Great information, Marta, thanks!!!

    Could you please give a look to PSF Bio-Copper Serum? The ingredients list seems impressive!
    And my favourite question :-) - do you think these are suitable for 30-somethings skin?

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