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Are there any side effects to using copper in cosmetics?

Active in the cosmetics industry for about thirty years, copper exists in various forms and can be found in skin and hair care products. Although this element is naturally present in the body, it is still legitimate to question the potential side effects related to its use in cosmetics. Let's discover together what this entails.

Published July 27, 2023, updated on February 6, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 3 min read

An overview of copper.

The copper is a chemical element naturally present in small amounts in the human body. Classified among the trace elements, it plays a crucial role in the formation of collagen, an essential protein of the extracellular matrix that contributes to the structure of the skin. In addition, copper has antioxidant properties that allow it to protect tissues and cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Certain forms of copper, such as copper PCA, gluconate of copper and copper peptides , are incorporated into cosmetic care due to their benefits for the skin. Copper PCA is favored for its antibacterial and sebum-regulating virtues that allow it to purify combination to oily skin and balance oily scalps. Copper gluconate, on the other hand, promotes cellular regeneration and wound healing. Finally, copper peptides are known for their regenerative properties and their ability to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, two essential proteins for skin flexibility and elasticity. In addition, copper peptides provide a beneficial antioxidant action to counteract the signs of skin aging.

Are there dangers associated with the use of copper in cosmetic care?

Copper is an element well tolerated by all skin types. Already present in the body, it is easily absorbed by the epidermis and does not cause side effects when used within concentration limits. This limit is set at 1% in cosmetics by the European cosmetic regulation based on Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009. Under these conditions, there is no contraindication to topical use of skincare products containing copper derivatives: they can be used by pregnant and/or breastfeeding women.

However, as with all skincare treatments, we advise you to perform a tolerance test before incorporating a product containing copper into your routine. To do this, apply a small amount of the product to a part of your face, the inside of your elbow, or behind your ear. If you do not observe any redness, irritation, or itching after 48 hours, it indicates that the product does not cause a hypersensitivity reaction in you.

Note : It is advised against using copper in synergy with exfoliating acids such as AHAs, like glycolic acid, or BHAs, like salicylic acid. It has been observed that these combinations can lead to irritations, even though the mechanism at work has not been elucidated.


  • Règlement (CE) No 1223/2009 du Parlement Européen et du Conseil.

  • BOROWSKA S. & al. Metals in cosmetics: implications for human health. Journal of Applied Toxicology (2015).


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