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What Do Copper Peptides Do?

by Jackie Lohrey

Your body needs a small amount of copper each day -- 900 micrograms -- to function properly. It helps support your metabolism and aids in iron absorption. Copper forms copper peptides by binding to amino acids -- such as glutamine, histidine and lysine. This mini-version of a protein then plays a major role in tissue protection and repair.


The use of copper compounds dates back to ancient Egypt, in about 1550 B.C., mainly as a method for treating burn wounds as well as skin and eye infections. It was not until 1973, notes Copper.org, that Dr. Lauren R. Pickart, then a graduate student studying the biochemistry of human aging, took notice of a natural copper peptide he called GHL-Cu, present in large quantities in the skin tissue of younger persons but in reduced amounts in older persons. Pickart determined this copper peptide plays a major role in skin regeneration and began producing a synthetic version he called GHL-CU factor lamin, or lamin. In 1989, tissue regeneration products containing copper peptides became available to beauty salons and spas and, in 1997, to the public in over-the-counter preparations. Today, you can find copper peptides in several cosmetics, acne medications, tanning lotions and post-surgical healing products.

How They Work

In reference to healing, copper peptides prevent scar formation by breaking down large clumps of collagen usually found in scars, allowing for the formation of smaller collagen molecules found in normal skin. In addition, SmartSkinCare.com notes that copper peptides promote the production of elastin, proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans, all components of normal skin; regulate development and growth rate of different types of cells; have an anti-inflammatory effect; and protect the skin from iron oxidation damage.


The positive effect copper peptides have on healing leads many doctors and dermatologists to use them as an aid to healing after procedures such as chemical peels, dermabrasion and laser resurfacing. Their anti-inflammatory properties make them useful in combination with skin rejuvenating products, such as tretinion and alpha-hydroxy acids, which SmartSkinCare.com says can cause skin irritation. Finally, their antioxidant properties can make copper peptides a useful anti-aging ingredient, as they help prevent skin damage due to daily wear and tear on your skin.

Other Potential Uses

Although more research is necessary, SmartSkinCare.com reports that copper peptides may have an effect on reversing skin wrinkles. Currently, however, this is only a theoretical possibility. In addition, the Skin Biology website states that copper peptides may be useful in repairing damage to the kidneys.


Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about how to use copper peptides and how much to use before deciding whether they are good for your situation. Excessive use of these products can, according to SmartSkinCare.com, promote skin damage rather than prevent it.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.