Copper peptides occur naturally in the human body and are normally present in fluids – for example blood plasma. Both proteins and peptides are chains of amino acids, except the latter are much shorter (less than 70 “links”) and therefore have a significantly lower molecular mass. Among many other benefits, copper peptides like GHK-Cu stimulate skin repair and increase the number of subcutaneous fat cells in the scalp, which strengthens and increases the size of hair follicles. GHK-Cu also increases scalp (and usually skin) thickness by stimulating the production of elastin, collagen and proteoglycans – the latter ensure your skin is properly hydrated.
Why are they important?
Since scientists started to gain insight of their properties back in the 1980s, copper peptides have proved to be excellent healing agents, as they promote the synthesis of collagen in wounded tissue. Copper peptide GHK-Cu is an active ingredient used in anti-ageing products (e.g. anti-wrinkle night cream), and appears to be more effective than beauty products based on vitamin C and retinoic acid.
GHK-Cu benefits hair health through a number of mechanisms:
Hair follicles need oxygen and nutrients to survive, just like the rest of your body. While vital organs like your heart and lungs are connected to the largest blood vessels, it is more difficult for oxygenized blood to reach your extremities (toes, fingertips, cheeks and scalp), especially if you have bad peripheral (capillary) circulation. Not to mention the metabolism of your hair follicles is extremely fast! The copper in GHK-Cu, however, has angiogenic properties and improves microcirculation.
Hair loss is often triggered by an auto-immune reaction (i.e. a situation where the immune system treats your own body cells as intruders and attacks them; this frequently causes inflammation). GHK-Cu reduces inflammation by inhibiting the action of cytokine Interleukin 1 and polypeptide Transforming Growth Factor (TGF) beta 1.
Blocks DHT and TGF-beta formation
DHT (dihydrotestosterone), an androgen hormone, is the leading cause of male pattern baldness around the world – this also explains why women rarely go bald for other reasons than chronic illness. According to Sugimoto et al, the copper in GHK-Cu inhibits 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. Moreover, GHK-Cu also stimulates the production of decorin, a protein that inhibits the formation of TGF-beta (a cytokine involved in the miniaturization of the hair follicle).
Improving hair health using GHK-Cu
DS Laboratories produce Spectral RS, a type of hair treatment based on copper peptides. Apart from inhibiting DHT and RGF-beta, their product removes excess sebum and triggers the follicles’ anagen growth phase. It is also used to reverse perifollicular fibrosis, one of the conditions that frequently cause alopecia. In perifollicular fibrosis, collagen around your hair roots turns rigid, which results in hair loss, as if follicles were “choked”.