Are Copper Peptides Worth Adding to Your Skin-Care Routine?

A dermatologist shares her thoughts on the trendy ingredient.

Every so often there’s a new skin-care ingredient that seems to seep its way into our vocabulary. (Remember Bakuchiol? Squalane? Snail mucin?) Today that ingredient is copper peptides—and beauty influencers love to tout its benefits.

“If you haven’t tried this skin-care product, you will after watching this video,” says baby-faced TikToker Abbey Yung. She’s talking about a product by Canadian beauty brand The Ordinary featuring copper peptides that she says “took [her] skin to the next level.” What does the ingredient do exactly? According to influencers like Yung, it stimulates collagen and elastin production, to help you recapture a youthful glow.

Today, the copper peptide hashtag on TikTok has raked in over 31 million views and a slew of products spotlighting the ingredient are popping up on store shelves—so what do the pros think?

What are copper peptides?

“They’re found in the skin as well as being exogenous,” says dermatologist at DLK on Avenue Lisa Kellett,  which means they occur naturally but can also be manufactured synthetically and added to skin care products. “They play a role as an antioxidant, but there’s not a lot of evidence-based medicine that supports their use,” she says.

Does that mean we don’t know for sure what their benefits are?

While there’s evidence of the effectiveness of antioxidants like vitamin C, says Kellett, copper peptides are lacking the research needed to make factual claims on its effectiveness. But, she says, “there’s been some data to suggest they’re important in collagen remodelling and regeneration.”

What types of skin-care products are they typically found in?

They’re most commonly in serums, says Kellett, but can also be found in moisturizers.

If I want to try copper peptides, how should I incorporate them into my routine?

“Products are more efficacious on clean skin,” says Kellet. “And I always say to patients, the most important product for your skin in the morning is sunscreen—so if you’re going to use a copper peptide, it’s best to use it on clean skin at night.”

On that note, TikTok-famous dermatologist Shereene Idriss says copper peptides should not replace your vitamin C serum since they don’t protect against UV damage and pollution—so there’s another argument for applying it only at night.

The Ordinary recently updated usage recommendations for its buzzy product Multi-Peptide + Copper Peptides 1% Serum (the one Abbey Yung gushes over in the aforementioned video) to warn customers not to layer it with a variety of ingredients, including acids, vitamin C and retinoids. But skin-care formulator Stephen Alain Ko (@kindofstephen) hasn’t found evidence to show you can’t use them together. Thoughts?

Kellett says she doesn’t think there are any studies supporting the use of copper peptides with retinol or vitamin C.

Idriss suggests using copper peptides every other night—when you’re not using retinol to limit the risk of irritation.

Next: The Benefits of a (Seriously) Stripped-Down Skin-Care Routine

Originally Published in Best Health Canada