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What is it: Copper Peptides

copper peptides
November 14, 2007 Reviewed by Marta 17 Comments

I became quite excited when I first found out about copper peptides. It has been referred to as the most effective skin regeneration ingredient, even though it’s only been on the market since 1997. And then I became baffled. In all those ten years, there is a relative paucity of products containing copper peptides. Why should that be? Perhaps it turned out not to be so good after all. Or perhaps there are ghastly side effects.

As far as I can tell, copper peptides are effective and proven to be so. The reason why they aren't as common as, say, AHAs seems to be because there is a stranglehold on the patent. So much of a stranglehold that some products that claim to be based on copper peptides aren't really and will not work at all at improving skin texture. Here’s why:

The benefits of copper peptides for tissue regeneration were discovered by Dr. Loren Pickart in the 1970s. He found and patented a number of specific copper peptides (in particular, GHK copper peptides or GHK-Cu) that were effective in healing wounds and skin lesions as well as some gastrointestinal conditions. Pickart still controls these patents and, therefore, very few products contain the GHK copper peptide. An exception is Neutrogena, which has a deal with Pickart to include GHK in low doses. As you might have now guessed, one of the few ways to buy a potent and genuine product is from Pickart himself.

A peptide is a short chain of amino acid (protein is a long chain), while the presence of copper in living tissues has been known for more than 200 years and was popularized by those copper bracelets that Grandma wore to ward off rheumatism. But can copper peptides diminish wrinkles as well as they seem to heal scars?

Theoretically, it is possible since copper peptides promote the degradation of abnormally large cross-linked collagen (the one found in scars and, to a lesser degree, in wrinkles). They also stimulate the production of 'regular' collagen found in normal skin. In one small study of about 20 volunteers, copper peptides stimulated collagen production in the intact skin. In fact, in that study copper peptides produced a stronger stimulation of collagen synthesis than tretinoin (Retin A, Renova) or ascorbate (vitamin C).

A study performed upon 20 volunteers showed that after 30 days, the formation of procollagen, a precursor of collagen, increased 70% (shown by skin biopsy) compared with 50% formation from Vitamin C and 40% due to Tretinoin.

This all seems to promising that its worth going back to Dr Pickart (a maverick who doesn't believe that sun damage is the primary cause of wrinkles). He favors a two-step program: out with the old and in with the new. An exfoliant (mild hydroxy acids) is applied to the skin in the morning to slough off the old skin cells. The copper peptide is then used in the evening, to encourage the production of new, healthy skin cells.

I have ordered two of his products: Neova Eye Therapy and Super Cop. I intend to use the latter very cautiously on my neck - it is really a product for reducing scars (e.g., post acne) but used judiciously can help rejuvinate skin. I'll post a report after a few months.

Read more:

The Truth About Copper Peptides

  • July 29, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Livia, for some newer options you could also check out our Five Best with copper peptides:

  • July 29, 2014

    by Janet

    Livia, I think you're looking for

  • July 28, 2014

    by Livia Ercole

    I used the product for years given to me by my plastic surgeon. Your site lacks info. to order it. HELP

  • April 3, 2013

    by ghj

    So many say "i'm very impressed so far" about skin products. Given some have praised other anti aging products elsewhere for merely moisturising well, these don't even suggest why they're impressed. It could even be because the products smell 'good', sigh...

  • December 1, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Peggy, I have tried and reviewed NeriumAD - here is a link to my review:
    And here is some background on the key ingredient and the company behind Nerium:

  • November 30, 2012

    by Peggy Hoff

    Marta, what do you think of NeriumAD? People are raving about it but I'm suspicious.

  • November 30, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Lisette, thank you for your comment. Please note that we try to ensure that Truth In Aging is a safe and pleasant environment and, therefore, I have removed your personal comments on someone's appearance.

  • November 30, 2012

    by Lisette

    VERY IMPORTANT! Many of the copper peptides mentioned here, including Super Cop, are entirely different forms of copper from the original GHK peptide. They are soy-based copper peptides, and a lot of people have terrible trouble with them. Some love them, but others get worse and even quite severe wrinkling. GHK Copper is the one that most people like and have no trouble with. This difference is very important!

  • September 23, 2010

    by Loren

    I have used Neutrogena "Visibly Firm" night cream (believe it has this copper peptides?)and think this product is one of the best I've found for firming the crepey and sagging neck and under the chin area. My only disappointment is that it is now difficult to purchase this product in stores. It used to be widely available but now I can only find it online. The new Neutrogena line doesn't seem to have the copper peptides and I haven't found the new line to be nearly as effective.

  • July 15, 2008

    by Jelleybean

    <p>I love Dr. Pickart's Super CP Serum. However, after using it and stopping it about 4 times, I no longer buy it. Let me explain....I thought my skin looked beautiful when I used the copper serum. However, a few months later, I noticed my hair falling out. Sounds crazy, because I wasn't using the stuff on my head. So why the hair loss? </p>

    <p>So, I would discontinue the CP serum for a few months, the shedding would stop. Then I would start up with Dr. Pickart's serum again. And once again, after a few months, I began losing more and more hair in my brush.</p>

    <p>I am baffled. Maybe I have too much copper in my system to begin with?</p>

    <p>Anyone else with this problem? I'd be curious to see .</p>

  • March 31, 2008

    by bethany

    <p>If you are worried about the lavender, you could try one of the serums...I am using CP Serum, along with SuperCop 2x on my dreaded age spots and Emu oil. I started with Neutrogena Visibly Firm Serum, and then worked up in strength after a has been 2 weeks on the Skin Bio stuff, and I am very impressed thus far.</p>

  • March 30, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>I am still using Super Cop 2X on two very specific wrinkles - just to see if I can isolate any effect. I swear it is working (wrinkles less deep, but its been four months). </p>

    <p>P&R has lots of good things in it. The only concern I have is that it contains lavender, which is is supposed to be a cell killer (according to a University of Westminster study). Also <br />
    Diazolidinyl Urea, a preservative, is a known irritant for one in 1,000 people (that's bound to be me).</p>

  • March 30, 2008

    by Lori

    <p>Just wondering your take on P&R Classic Skin Renewal Cream Dr Pickart's product. And are you still using super cop?</p>

  • February 12, 2008

    by Marta

    <p>Yes. Folligen is a copper peptide product that actually works (for me anyway). Here is the link <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a></p>

  • February 12, 2008

    by Leslie Wayne

    <p>Hi Marta,</p>

    <p>I clicked on the copper peptide link because I'm interested in remedies for hair loss. You're testing out a product for the skin - is there one for the hair? </p>

  • November 23, 2007

    by Marta

    <p>Neova is made by Procyte, a company that Dr Pickart started in 1985. He has since parted ways and has started another company. So, it would have been more accurate to say its one of his legacy products. Thanks for pointing that out.</p>

  • November 22, 2007

    by Sylvie

    <p>I am curious why you referred to a Neova product as one of Dr Pickart's products? </p>

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