Lately I've been getting a lot of questions regarding Copper Peptides: Have I tried them, do they work, what is my opinion of them, and so on.
As I mentioned in this blog, I did try using a Copper Peptide mask a few times but obviously that's not enough to really be able to report either success or failure. I did read about it quite a lot, though, and in this post I'll attempt to sum up some of what I know for you.
WHAT IS IT
First, what exactly are Copper Peptides?
Generally speaking, peptides are protein molecules small enough to penetrate the skin's protective barries to get to the deeper layers. Certain kinds of peptides naturally bind very tightly with copper and the result is a compound consisting of a peptide and a copper atom which has become known as a Copper Peptide.
OK, so this discovery (made in the 70's by a biochemist named Dr. Pickart) basically allows us to increase the copper levels in our skin, by applying a cream topically on the skin.
And of course now we ask : why would we want copper delivered to our skin in the first place?
Well, it turns out that copper peptides can have a positive effect on wound healing. They reduce scar tissue formation while stimulating normal skin remodeling.
In other words, they help better restore the damaged area to its original look. In addition, they have anti-inflammatory properties and reduce irritation.
At this point you might say "OK, Great! They remodel the skin! That's exactly what I need for my wrinkles/stretch marks/saggy skin! Give me some!"
Well, not so fast.
What was proven was that Copper Peptides can repair wounded skin, but the big question is : Are they also good for skin that is NOT wounded? In other words, is aging skin and wounded skin share the same properties that benefit from delivering copper into them?
A review published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal (January 2004) concluded that : " the science supporting wound healing with copper peptide is sound but the science supporting amelioration of skin aging is still weak, lacking good double-blind comparison studies".
I also found several studies published on Dr. Pikart himself's SkinBiology web site. But they are mainly regarding wounds, and not wrinkles, with relatively small sample sizes, and no discussion of clinical significance (which is important to make sure that the results did not occur merely by chance).
In the article Are Peptides Important Ingredients? a woman in her 40's asks whether peptides can help reverse her skin aging signs. The response she got is that while there was some evidence of an increase in skin thickness in a certain study, it is inconclusive. "no one seems to be really sure if these peptides are effective in regular skin creams or not. In fact, while they [copper peptides] look promising, there’s some evidence to suggest that when used improperly, copper peptides can have a negative effect on skin by triggering free radical damage."
If you're intersted to read more on the scientific discussion there's a very interesting thread in the EDS forum that you can read.
Bottom line : scientific evidence about copper peptides having anti aging properties is still somewhat lacking.
In fairness, Copper Peptides are hardly the only example of a theory-based product that is used even though it was not entirely proven to work. For example, nobody is really sure how some anti-depressants work exactly, but they are still used and they DO help some people.
So perhaps more important than scientific research is what users of Copper Peptides serums and products actually have to say about it.
Well, it seems there's no agreement about that, either.
I found many people reporting both good and bad things about CP.
(BAD) "I stopped the CP's and the area around my eyes would recuperate but my cheek area did not. To this day it is still slightly crinkled and has not gone back to what it was before CP's. " http://www.essentialdayspa.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=26013
(GOOD) "I have been using Skin Biology Copper peptides for a few years now and I have noticed an incredible improvement in my skin. " http://www.essentialdayspa.com/skinbiology-cp-serum-p_7823.htm
(BAD) "... I had a similar experience with CPs with negatively impacted areas around eyes and neck. My neck looked absolutely horrible. I am still recovering from it. "
(BAD) " upon using very conservatively the weakest formulation for several months, the texture of my skin and its natural elasticity were significantly and adversely affected." http://www.essentialdayspa.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=28666
(GOOD) "I have been using your CP serum and emu oil on an area of damaged skin on my face for nearly a year, and have recently also started using your Super cop cream. Both have been very good in improving my skin, and I have been very pleased with the gradual improvement that I have seen." http://www.scar-reduction.com/supercop.html
So it seems that while a lot of people report that CP serums do improve their skin, also many of them that complain about their side effects (they call it the 'uglies' - the appearance of sagging skin, wrinkles and fine lines that you get from using/overusing CP products). Some find that it goes away if a break is taken from the CP products, but others they experience what is seemingly a permanant damage.
In theory, Copper Peptides should work, and they DO work, at least for wound healing and for preventing the formation of scar tissue. There is no hard evidence, however, that they also work for anti aging, wrinkles and stretch marks.
A lot of people seem to use CP nowadays. Some of them swear by it, while others swear that their skin only took a turn for the worse because of them. It's obvious that CP do SOMETHING, perhaps they're just not for everyone? That wouldn't surprise me as most cosmetic products are like that.
I'm sorry to say but I haven't reached a conclusion. I would have to give CP serums another try and use them for a long time (people that say it works say it works slowly) to draw a real conclusion, and I would probably do it if I had a reason to, plus, the reported side effects do concern me.
By the way, recently a visitor to my blog wrote me and said she was going to start treating the stretch marks on her thighs, but wasn't sure what topical to use. She had an interesting experiment in mind though:
She said she would keep me updated on her progress. I will be sure to share the results with you when she does! (Yes, even if it means the CP worked better/faster than my own serum, if you can believe it).
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
If you have your own experience with Copper Peptides, or other topicals, please share them here in the comment section or in the forum.