|Posted by Beverley Anne Freeman on April 21, 2020 at 10:30 AM|
Women and men have used cosmetics for thousands of years to enhance the skin; however, it has only been recently that cosmetic products have been available to structurally alter the skin. The ancient Egyptians applied perfumes and anointing oils to their body as early as 4000 BC. The bust of the Egyptian queen, Nefertiti (1367–1350 BC) (the word nefer means beautiful) that stands in the entry of the Berlin Museum is mute testimony to the level of cosmetic art available and used in those early years. Even then, copper was a part of their cosmetics. Eye makeup was probably the most characteristic of the Egyptian cosmetics. The most popular colours were green and black. The green was originally made from malachite, an oxide of copper, and the black, from galena, a lead sulfide mineral.
The person whose innovation has made possible the use of copper in skincare products is a biochemist, Dr Loren R. Pickart, who developed the first such products as a result of his graduate work at the University of California – San Francisco in the1970s. As a result of Dr Pickart’s work, by 2001, over 40 products based on copper-peptide-induced tissue regeneration are marketed by at least 12 companies throughout the world. In addition, to the so-called face lift products, copper peptides are used:
- in products that aid skin healing post-surgery; after laser resurfacing, dermabrasion and chemical peels;
- to stimulate hair growth and during the transplantation of hair;
- to aid skin conditions in persons with acne, diabetes and psoriasis;
- for use as sun tanning lotion for increasing the efficiency of melanogenesis and reducing post-tanning skin peeling;
- in aftershave lotions; and
- in veterinary wound cleanser and healing products.
Studies have shown that copper peptide-containing products are more effective than topical application of the more traditional dermatological treatments — Vitamin C, tretinoin or melatonin — on the ultrastructure of the skin3.
Science Behind Copper Peptide Cosmetic Products
Copper’s role in skincare and wound treatment was first discussed in the Ebers Papyrus — the oldest book known to man and written in approximately 1550 BC13. The Ebers Papyrus documents folk medicine practised in ancient Egypt at the time of its writing and many centuries earlier. Specifically, the treatment of burn wounds and certain growths of the neck (presumably boils) are mentioned, as are remedies for eye ailments. Subsequent medical volumes — the Hippocratic Collection (460 to 380 BC), De Medicina (14–37 AD), Pliney’s Historia Naturalis (23–79 AD) — copper compounds are called for in the treatment of various skin diseases and infections.
Although ancient practice and basic science had paved the way for medicinal use in wound healing, it was not until recently that consideration was given to the use of copper in cosmetic preparations. It has long been known that copper combines with certain proteins in the body to produce enzymes that act as catalysts assisting several body functions. Some of these enzymes help provide the energy required by biochemical reactions; others are involved in the transformation of melanin for pigmentation of the skin, and still, others help to form cross-links in collagen and elastin and thereby maintain and repair connective tissues. It has also been known that copper complexes can be used to both prevent and to repair injury to tissue due to ionizing radiation14.
Recently, scientists in France have found that GHL-Cu stimulates collagen synthesis15. At Stanford University’s Wound Healing and Tissue Engineering Laboratory, scientists have found that certain types of copper peptides help the process of skin remodelling and removal of scar tissue16. Such types of copper peptides help activate the skin's metalloproteinases that remove damaged proteins (sun as sun-damaged collagen and elastin) and scars. At the same time, they help activate your skin's anti-proteinases TIMP-1 andTIMP-2, which protect against the excessive breakdown of protein17. Thus, copper peptides added to skin creams help the process of rebuilding new collagen and elastin into the skin.
According to Pickart, numerous research and human clinical studies at over thirty universities and medical research institutes have found copper-peptides in animal and human studies to:
- Accelerate wound repair (humans, mice, rats, guinea pigs, pigs, dogs)
- Increases skin re-epithelialization (humans and animals)18.
- Reverses ageing effects on the skin (humans) — thickens skin, improves elasticity, and increases subcutaneous fat layer • Improve skin graft transplant success (pigs)
- Improve hair transplant success (humans)
- GHL analogues with fatty residue analogues increase hair follicle size and growth rate
- Stimulate hair growth and reduce hair loss (humans, mice, rats)
- Stimulate bone healing (guinea pigs, pigs, rabbits)
- Heal injured intestinal linings (humans, rats)
- Heal stomach ulcers (rats)
- Blocks oxidative injury in tissues
- It has been found that biologically effective copper-peptides help the skin to:
- Regenerate new collagen and elastin which improves skin firmness and elasticity,
- Increase the production of water-holding glycosaminoglycans which is true moisturization,
- Improve the skin’s blood vessel microcirculation,
- Produce biochemical energy from nutrients in the body’s blood supply,
- Increase the natural defence mechanism against oxidative damage, and
- Repair damage to the protective skin barrier. As the skin is rebuilt and scars removed, the elastic properties of the skin pull it into a smooth surface.
Thus, in addition to copper being an essential element of life19, copper is equally important in staving off the ravages of time to our appearance and in the maintenance of the elusive physiological quality we call beauty.
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