Are Copper Peptides Better Than Retinoids?

by Gio
are copper peptides more effective than retinoids

BFFs are awesome.

Mine encourages me to go for a walk when I complain about the couple of extra pounds I’ve put on during my last trip to Italy, gives me a pep talk when I start doubting my writing and even helps me come up with new ideas for the blog.

My BFF just makes my life better. She makes me more confident. Keeps me focused on my goals so I achieve bigger and better things.

Skincare ingredients have their BFFs too. Peptides and copper, for example. Together, they’re called copper peptides, and rumour has it, they work even better than retinoids. Can you believe it?

Here’s all the gossip (and the truth in it):

What The Heck Are Copper Peptides?

Peptides are proteins made up of amino acids, the building blocks of life. Some of these peptides have an affinity for the metal copper. When they meet, they hug and bind to each other really tightly.

That’s when peptides and copper become one: a copper peptide.

It can happen naturally in the body. Copper peptides are present in trace amounts in saliva, blood plasma, and even urine (eww, I know).

Or it can happen in a lab. A scientist mixes amino acids with a solution that contains copper and a copper peptide comes out.

P.S. In case you were wondering, the copper peptides found in our skincare products come from a lab.

the ordinary buffet + copper peptides 1% 02

Are Copper Peptides A Powerful Weapon Against Premature Aging?

It seems so.

Science says copper peptides can increase the production of collagen, the substance that keeps skin firm. The more skin makes, the less likely it is to sag and wrinkle.

There are also a few studies that say copper peptides do this so well, they produce more collagen than vitamins A (retinoids) and C, two of the most powerful anti-aging superheroes ever.

Pretty impressive, right?

Should You Replace Your Vitamins A and C Serums With Copper Peptides?

Not yet.

There are two reasons why I won’t be making the switch anytime soon:

  1. The studies I’ve just mentioned were done in vitro (petri dish), not in vivo (on real skin). See the potential problem with this? Just because something works in a petri dish doesn’t mean it’ll work when applied on the skin.
  2. Copper peptides don’t improve the texture of the skin. Vitamins A and C can also reduce roughness and dark spots. Copper peptides can’t.

Having said that, if you can afford to add a serum with copper peptides to your skincare routine (they can cost a pretty penny) do it! Anything that promotes collagen (and isn’t dangerous, of course), is always worth a try.

niod copper amino isolate serum 2 1 review

What Else Do Copper Peptides Do?

Copper peptides are quite the workaholics. They:

  • have anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritations, one of the main causes of premature aging.
  • help heal wounds
  • help heal scars by getting rid of the extra large, damaged collagen in them
  • promote the production of elastin, glycosaminoglycans, proteoglycans, and other building blocks of the skin’s protective barrier
  • produce enzymes that are essential for skin’s health, including antioxidant superoxide dismutase and lysyl oxidaze (it weaves together elastin and collagen).

Sounds Great! Are There Any Side Effects?

It doesn’t seem so.

Unlike silver, copper is metabolized by the body so there’s no risk of toxicity.

Some people report that too much copper triggers the production of metalloproteinases, which basically eat collagen and elastin. The result? Skin sags. Wrinkles appear.

Keep in mind, though, that there are no studies confirming this happening. Only a tiny minority of people who overused copper peptides reported this side effect. Until a study is done, we don’t know if this is true or even what defines overuse. A 10% concentration? Daily use? Who knows?

As I said, very few people experience this, so I’d say copper peptides are pretty safe.

What Are The Best Products With Copper Peptides?

If you’re ready to splurge on copper peptides, you may want to check these out. They are the best products with copper peptides I’ve come across so far:


The Bottom Line

Copper peptides are pretty expensive and there isn’t much research on them yet. But, what we know is promising so I’m including them in my skincare routine and recommend you do the same. But, only when the products have plenty of other proven-to-work ingredients. Just in case. πŸ˜‰

Do you use skincare products with copper peptides? Share your fave picks in the comments below.



Ana August 22, 2016 - 8:45 am

The fact that the studies done have been in vitro and that, as far as in vivo results are concerned, some people report sagging, which hasn’t been proven nor disproven, I’ll wait for more studies before deciding on copper peptides.

Another great article from you, Gio.
I love how you try to bring all relevant info, and organize it for easier use <3 .

Ana August 22, 2016 - 8:56 am

Whoa, holy grammar, Batman!

I began writing one sentence and finished writing another πŸ˜› .

Gio August 30, 2016 - 5:39 pm

Ana, I totally get your point. I have to say the research on them looks promising indeed, but it’s definitely too early to splurge $100+ on a serum just because it has copper peptides. But if you can find a good product with retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid or another skincare goodie, why not? If copper peptides turn out to work, great. If not, your skin is still benefiting from all those other ingredients. πŸ™‚

No worries about grammar. πŸ˜‰

Claudia August 22, 2016 - 10:13 am

Is it true that copper does not combine well with other active ingredients? Does copper deactivate Vitamin C and cannot be used with any product with a retinoid in it? I have not used a product with copper in it because it seems to be difficult to use. Because we all use a series of products , serum, night cream etc. there is always a chance that active ingredients will deactivate each other. Thanks.

Hannah August 24, 2016 - 2:52 am

Wow,perfect timing. I was wondering about this when I mentioned the copper powder pillow from Sephora the other day.

Gio August 30, 2016 - 10:13 am

Hannah, hope it answers your questions. πŸ™‚

Gio August 30, 2016 - 1:04 pm

Claudia, as far as I know copper plays well both with vitamin C and retinol, so there’s no reason why copper peptides shouldn’t either.

Aimee August 24, 2016 - 1:12 am

Ive used the Blue Copper Peptide cream from Osmotics, and in spite of all that I have read about copper, it was one of the best creams ever. Here is why: no burning or concern about going into the sun, it was extremely soothing, and a major bonus what that it healed several dark scars I had. It could be just me, but I got great results.

I also love retinol serums and creams, but I found the copper did something a bit more.

Great article, glad I found your blog!

Gio August 30, 2016 - 5:57 pm

Aimee, thank you for sharing your experience. So glad to hear that copper peptides went the extra mile for you. I think they’re some of the most exciting ingredients in skincare atm.

Hope to see you around here often. πŸ™‚

Claudia August 24, 2016 - 7:25 pm

Hi Gio
What do you think about sr skincare (from UK). I started to use the vitamin c serum (10% vitamin c, fertilic acid y vitamin e) and another cream with niacinamide, it is special for hiperpigmentation. I don’t know yet but I am very happy they don’t break me out (by the way I use bha of Paula’s choice, aha and tretinoin) I guess I have to wait one month to see if the hiperpigmentation is better but for the moment so far so good.

Well they have a product with copper peptides GHK and it is incredible cheap 9 pounds!

Do you know anything about the sr skincare?
I love your blog ?

Gio August 30, 2016 - 1:09 pm

Claudia, thanks for introducing this brand to me. Judging from the ingredients, the products sound really good. Although, I’m wondering how they can keep the prices so low. Let me know how it goes with them.

Thanks, glad you do. πŸ™‚

Tania December 8, 2016 - 10:31 pm

Hello πŸ™‚ I am trying to find out the best regimen for Deciem’s Vitamin C 23% Suspension, tretinoin and Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age peptide serum. Would it make sense to use the latter in the mornings and the first ones at alternate evenings, or even as a three-day schedule, skipping one evening for milder effect? My skin is sensitive. Thank you very much for what you do here!

Gio December 9, 2016 - 8:26 am

Hello Tania, I like the idea of using them in a three-day schedule. If you have sensitive skin, that’s definitely the best thing to do. πŸ™‚

Tania December 10, 2016 - 5:47 pm

Thank you, Gio πŸ™‚ these peptide things really make me curious… I wonder if there will be any effect though if used once in three days regularly? Like with some other strong cosmeceutical formulas? Any ideas or experience with these? Or do they only give results if applied twice a day for many months in a row?

Gio December 17, 2016 - 9:40 pm

As with everything, the more you use them, the better the results. Copper peptides aren’t particularly harsh, so using them once a day should be enough.

Yulia October 1, 2017 - 1:16 pm

How do you think at what age it would be proper to use such ingredient? Or maybe at which period of aging: to prevent wrinkles or to treat them?

Gio October 6, 2017 - 9:29 pm

Yulia, it’s always more effective to prevent than treat wrinkles. These ingredients tend to be expensive so you can wait until your 30s to use them. But don’t wait too long or they may not work as well.

Nikolett Szolnoki January 6, 2018 - 8:33 pm

Hi, Gio! in Mizon Peptid 500 serum, copper tripeptide is in the second place in INCI, and a few other ingredients are the same as in Niod CAIS. Low price. Can anyone consider it as dupe?

Gio January 19, 2018 - 3:23 pm

Nikolett, I wouldn’t call it a dupe but it’s a good alternative.

Cristina May 17, 2018 - 10:23 am

Been using Cais for two years. The skin around my jaw is now suddenly really sagging. I keep on telling myself it cannot be the use of copper peptides but i am a little scared to keep on going (and one tends to read the horror stories on the net and being taken by panic πŸ˜‰ ). No other effects other than healing my pimples faster. I know (and Deciem warns you) that the effects are supposed to be long term.

Gio May 18, 2018 - 3:15 pm

Cristina, copper peptide shouldn’t cause any sagging, unless you’ve used it on broken, injured skin. But if it worries you, stop using it. There are many other things that promote collagen, like retinol.

Linh Tran August 12, 2019 - 10:38 am

Hi Gio,

I am using 2% Retinol and 10% Niacinamide at night and AHA+BHA serum every other nights and Vitamin C in the morning.

I am wondering how to combine Copper peptide serum into my routine and the order to use them in the routine?

Gio September 15, 2019 - 6:45 pm

Hi Linh, you can use it before retinol.

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