Ingredient To Know: Copper


Welcome back to “ Ingredient To Know,” a series in which we sporadically profile the latest and/or greatest in skincare chemistry. In the past, these posts have often trended towards precious metals. This time is no exception.

Today's ingredient, copper, is nowhere near new. In fact, for thousands of years—all the way back to the ancient Egyptians—the element has been heralded as a “fountain of youth' of sorts. Now with the science to prove it, copper has more recently blossomed into the realm of modern skincare as the heavy hitter in various night creams, SPFs, serums, and hair restoration, mostly thanks to biochemist Dr. Loren Pickart.

Pickart was studying the effects of human aging when he discovered that the main difference between younger blood and older blood was that the healthier “youth' activity found in the former was caused by a small copper-binding peptide called GHK. “Things change with age, you know?” Pickart said. “Further studies established that GHK-copper improved the healing of skin wounds. As for cosmetic skincare, studies on women in their 50s found that GHK-copper improved skin elasticity, firmness, and thickness while reducing wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and photo-damage.” It can also be found in copper PCA, to combat inflammation. Yes, these are effective selling points.

In layman's terms: Basically, now's the time to stock up on Aesop's Elemental Facial Barrier Cream. The ultra-thick moisturizer is true to it's name. It's great for cold-weather skin protection, and uses copper PCA to keep redness at bay. And it doesn't smell like pennies—more like a really earthy ginger that just feels warm.

Then there's the instantly gratifying results of Neova Illuminating Eye Therapy. Use it both under and on top of your eyelid to plump wrinkles brighten skin. Copper peptides begin to repair skin in as quick as 48 hours, but if you want to see blemishes and deeper wrinkles gone, go for the long haul and try incorporating copper GHK into your makeup routine. Perricone MD's Acyl-Glutathione Eye Lid Serum makes a great eye primer because it's fast absorbing, but the copper in it gives it the extra kick in that it also tightens the delicate skin so your eyeshadow can glide on and not fall into any creases.

And because copper is known to promote hair growth, finding it in a lash serum is like finding a candy bar in your bag. RapidLash's Eyelash Enhancing Serum is a good bet, and you can use it on your brows.

According to Pickart, copper in skincare can potentially reset human genes to a younger condition. So maybe you won't be completely cryogenically frozen at age 25. But at the very least, you can try.

Photographed by Tom Newton. Read more about ingredients here.