Learn about the benefits of copper peptides for skin and how to incorporate them into your skin-care routine.
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If you haven't noticed skin-care aficionados talk about certain ingredients nonstop (think: retinolhyaluronic acid, and vitamin C), plenty of other ingredients deserve your attention.

Case in point: Copper peptides. You're bound to start seeing the ingredient in formulas if you haven't already, as more and more skin-care brands are starting to bank on copper peptides' wide range of benefits. TikTok users have been raving about copper peptide skin-care, and the hashtag #copperpeptides has more than a million views on the app.

Ahead, learn more about copper peptides, including their benefits and how to incorporate them into your routine.

What Is a Copper Peptide Product?

Copper peptides are peptides made up of copper and amino acids, two naturally-occurring substances found in your body, explains Azadeh Shirazi, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at La Jolla Laser Dermatology. ICYDK, peptides are chains of amino acids that are the foundation of all proteins in your body, as Shape previously reported.

As for their function, "when peptides are applied topically to the skin, they signal your body to produce more collagen," says Marisa Garshick, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. Copper peptides are a type of carrier peptide that delivers copper to enzymes in the body to help promote the production of proteins, such as collagen and elastin, she explains. Boosting your copper peptide supply can be helpful, since as you age, your body's natural production of the substance wanes, says Dr. Garshick. (Related: Why It's Never Too Early to Start Protecting the Collagen In Your Skin)

Additionally, tissues in your body release copper peptides after an injury because of their wound healing and regenerative effects, explains Rachel Nazarian, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York.

In skin care, copper peptides can be synthetically produced or derived from a plant or animal source, says Dr. Shirazi. If you choose a product labeled "vegan," it's safe to assume the copper peptides aren't derived from an animal source.

Copper Peptides Skin Benefits

Boost Collagen and Elastin

As mentioned, copper peptides function to boost collagen and elastin production, and that can translate to improved texture, increased firmness, and a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, according to Dr. Garshick. (Related: These Botox Alternatives Are Almost As Good As the Real Thing)

Fight Free Radical Damage

Also, the ingredient often draws comparisons to vitamin C because of its antioxidant properties, which help to brighten skin and fight free radical damage, explains Dr. Nazarian. Free radical damage leads to the form of dark spots of premature signs of aging (e.g. fine lines) and occurs as a result of your skin being exposed to harmful environmental aggressors, such as UV rays or pollution. Antioxidants, including copper peptides, help neutralize free radicals, promoting radiant, plump skin.

Combat Inflammation

"Copper also has anti-inflammatory benefits that speed up wound healing and boost skin circulation," says Dr. Shizari. The anti-inflammatory properties make it helpful for treating scarring, hyperpigmentation, and redness related to inflammation, she explains.

Promote Hydration

And if anti-inflammatory benefits, increased collagen production, and antioxidant effects aren't enough, copper peptides also promote hydrated skin. "Copper peptides promote the production of glycosaminoglycans [molecules that bind to water], such as hyaluronic acid, so they help boost moisture," says Dr. Garshick.

How to Use Copper Peptides In Your Skin-Care Routine

Copper peptides are well-tolerated by most skin types, so anyone can reap their benefits, says Dr. Nazarian. As with any new skin care, though, it's best to do a patch test (i.e. apply the product in an inconspicuous area) before completely committing to ensure it agrees with your skin. When shopping for products, look for "GHK-Cu", "copper peptides", or "copper tripeptide-1," which are the ways copper peptides can show up in an ingredient list, explains Dr. Garshick.

You'll most commonly find the ingredient in a copper peptide serum or other leave-on product. "Copper peptides may be incorporated into various skin-care products, such as serums, lotions, or creams, and can be applied one or two times daily to the skin," says Dr. Garshick. For instance, The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1% serum has been gaining a lot of attention on TikTok, since user Abbey Yung said she stopped using a vitamin C serum in place of copper peptides and noticed a more even and glowy complexion.

Consider looking for a formula that combines copper peptides with hydrating ingredients, adds Dr. Shirazi. "It's best to use copper peptides with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, as they work like humectants to draw moisture to the skin's barrier," she says. The ingredients promote a healthy skin barrier, which is necessary for multiple reasons, including keeping your skin plump and firm. "[Copper peptides] also pair well with niacinamide to minimize redness and brighten skin," says Dr. Shirazi. She recommends AziMD Skincare Skintyte Serum from her own brand, which contains glycerin and niacinamide. (Related: How to Strengthen Your Skin Barrier to Prevent Irritation and Sensitivity)

Avoid using copper peptides with vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids, or retinol since copper peptides might compromise the other ingredients' effectiveness or vice versa. "Copper can oxidize ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C), causing it to break down too rapidly [and] resulting in diminished benefits," says Dr. Shirazi. "It is also thought that using copper peptides at the same time as retinol or alpha hydroxy acids can potentially reduce the efficacy [because] the combination can potentially disrupt the bonds between the peptides," explains Dr. Garshick. (Related: Why You Should Add Lactic, Citric, and Other Acids to Your Skin-Care Regimen)

If you want to continue using vitamin C, AHAs, or retinol, just make sure to alternate days or times of application. For example, you could use vitamin C in the morning and a copper peptide skin product in the evening, says Dr. Garshick. When in doubt, always consult with a dermatologist to find out if a copper peptide product is a suitable addition to your routine.

Bottom line? The benefits of copper peptides are too good to overlook. The multitasking skin-care ingredient definitely belongs on your radar.