Micronutrients are essential elements needed, in small quantities, to sustain life. They include micro minerals such as iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc and molybdenum. They are popular additives in anti-aging skin care as they prevent oxidative damage. There are recommended allowances for each micronutrient. Vitamins, such as A, C and E are very commonly included in anti-aging products. Some anti-aging creams now include copper, which is necessary in collagen production or selenium, which functions as an antioxidant. Dietary deficiency of micronutrients such as vitamins C and E, proline, lysine, selenium, zinc and others accelerate the process of aging.
Other important micronutrients for healthy skin include green tea, carotenoids, lycopene, curcumin and coenzyme Q10. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients nourish your skin whether you take them in supplement form, apply them directly to your skin; just make sure, you get enough from the foods you eat. Macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and lipids) work together with micronutrients to maintain the barrier functions of skin in the face of everyday challenges. Skin nutrition may be enhanced directly through topical application of zinc, selenium and copper.
This complements dietary consumption leading to a stronger, healthier protective barrier. Some of the most popular cosmetic products on the market right now incorporate trace minerals and other micronutrients that play a vital role in skin and overall health. Some creams include micronutrient such as copper, which is necessary in collagen production, or selenium, which functions as an antioxidant through an alternative pathway.
According to Zoe Draelos MD, metals such as selenium and copper have skin benefits when included in diet, but formulating them into a skin cream can be a challenge, because applying micronutrients to the skin may not be as effective as when consumed.
Selenium is crucial for facilitating metabolic processes, reproduction, DNA synthesis and thyroid function. It has powerful antioxidant properties. The best sources of selenium are organ meats, seafood (shrimp, crab, salmon), brazil nuts, eggs, sunflower seeds, chia seeds and mushrooms.
Selenium is similar to vitamin E and actually works with vitamins to safeguard the cell membrane, that protective coating around cells. This property makes selenium a key player when it comes to slowing the signs of aging. Research has shown that it protects against UV induced cell damage, skin inflammation and pigmentation. Inflammation is caused by UV light, stress and other factors which age skin, contributing to the breakdown of collagen. Selenium thwarts production of inflammatory cytokines, molecules that can build up in the body and harm healthy skin. It soothes redness and sensitivity. Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, selenium is a powerhouse for calming inflamed, irritated skin.
A Penny for Your Thoughts?
In ancient Egypt, copper was believed to be the symbol of life that imparted magical powers to those who wore it. Copper is the most electrically conductive of all metal elements. It has potent biocidal properties and is involved in numerous physiological and metabolic processes that are critical for the appropriate functioning of nearly all human tissues. In skin, copper is involved in the synthesis and stabilization of extra cellular matrix skin proteins and angiogenesis.
Copper plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin. According to Joshua Zeichner MD, Mount Sinai Hospital, it helps to develop collagen and elastin, which maintain the strength of the skin and it promotes the production of skin-plumping hyaluronic acid. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which help prevent infections and that is why it has been used in wound care. Copper-enhanced lotions pose little danger unlike other heavy metals like silver.
Every decade brings new anti-aging ingredients: vitamins A and C, collagen, and now copper is having its moment. For example, Dorit Baxter Spa offered a post-surgery copper facial which was said to help heal and hydrate skin. The procedure also reduced redness and flaking caused by popular laser treatments. The treatment includes application of a topical copper cream which is said to increase luminosity and firmness without the risk of irritation associated with retinoids and glycolic acids.
The anti-aging skin care category is filled with copper-based products; the list includes Strivectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for wrinkles & stretch marks, Perricone MD Blue Plasma, Henricksen Ultimate Lift Firming Serum, Kiehl’s Powerful wrinkle reducing cream and Iluminage, which is actually a satin pillow case embedded with microscopic copper particles. The case was created by Cupron, a Richmond, VA-based copper technology developer.
Let’s give the final word on copper’s benefits to Howard Murad MD, whose Age Reform Youth Builder dietary supplement includes copper, as well as zinc and vitamin C to form elastin.
“Studies show a 34% reduction in fine lines in five weeks. Pills or pillow cases, skin and scalp serums, but one thing is clear: those copper loving Egyptians were definitely onto something,” observed Murad.
Navin M. Geria
Chief Scientific Officer
AyurDerm Technologies, LLC
Navin Geria, former Pfizer Research Fellow is a cosmetic and pharmaceutical product development chemist and the chief scientific officer of AyurDerm Technologies LLC, which provides Ayurvedic, natural and cosmeceutical custom formulation development and consulting services to the spa-wellness-dermatology industries. He has launched dozens of cosmeceutical and ayurvedic anti-aging products. Geria has more than 30 years of experience in the personal care industry and was previously with Clairol, Warner-Lambert, Schick-Energizer, Bristol-Myers and Spa Dermaceuticals. He has nearly 20 US patents and has been published extensively. Geria edited the “Handbook of Skin-Aging Theories for Cosmetic Formulation Development” focus book published in April 2016 by Harry’s Cosmeticology. He is a speaker, moderator and chairman at cosmetic industry events.