All About Copper: NEOVA Progressive Nourishing Lotion Review

Reviews, Skin Care
NEOVA Progressive Nourishing Lotion

In terms of growing up, I think 1997-1998 were big years for me. There were the Backstreet Boys, N*SYNC, and Britney Spears. UConn and Kentucky were the teams in the NCAA tournament. (And two of my faves). And I was in love with Neutrogena skin care at the time that featured copper peptides, which has since been discontinued.

In some ways, it’s been like 1997 all over again: Backstreet Boys are on tour, UConn owned that tournament earlier this year, and NEOVA is re-introducing the copper peptide with this new NEOVA Progressive Nourishing Lotion ($95.00, (Hallelujah!) For more on why I love this so much, read on.

Copper: Awesome

Copper peptides first came on the scene in 1988. Since that time, some studies have found that copper peptide complexes stimulate even greater procollagen synthesis than potent anti-agers like Retin-A (tretinoin) or ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Comprising 15% of the dermis (collagen type I comprises 80%), collagen type III gives the skin compliance, and its levels decrease naturally with age.

Although the exact mechanism of action is not known at this time, it is known that copper is involved in the formation of the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which serves as a potent antioxidant in the skin. Copper is also essential for the enzyme lysyl oxidase, which is involved in the cross-linking of elastin and collagen, so it is possible that these are at least partially responsible for the increase in collagen synthesis.

The only issue with copper peptides occurs if you have broken skin. A 1999 study in Nature found that copper peptides activate matrix metalloproteinase-2 — enzymes that degrade collagen — only in instances of wound healing. As the study suggests, in these instances of healing, it is possible that partially breaking down tissues in order to rebuild them via matrix metalloproteinase-2 activation is actually useful.  Further, it is unknown how much copper would need to be used, or for how often, for matrix metalloproteinase-2 to be activated. I personally am in favor of collagen peptides, and support their use in this product on non-injured skin.

Still Love the DNA Repair Enzymes

DNA Repair Enzymes Plankton Photolyase

One of the reasons I love NEOVA Progressive Nourishing Lotion as a late-summer-to-fall product is its ability to repair UV damage, at least according to data released from company-related trials. Photolyase has been shown in company-related trials to reduce UVB radiation-induced dimers by 45% and to increase UV protection by 300% (NEOVA).  Photolyase is derived from plankton, and can be identified on skin care products as plankton extract from Anacystis nidulans.  Its job is to undo DNA damage in cells and prevent cell death caused by UV exposure.

According to Dr. Daniel Yarosh, author of The New Science of Perfect Skin, liposome-encapsulated photolyase is delivered to the skin within an hour of application.  It requires light for its activation, though any mild indoor light that passes through sunscreen should be enough for it to work properly.

On the other hand, endosomes are liposome-encapsulated and derived from the marine microbe, Micrococcus lysate.  Extremely UV-resistant, endosomes intensify the skin’s reparative properties to speed recovery reaction and reduce the appearance of post-sunburn peeling.

Collagen and Amino Acids: Just OK

Of course, this wouldn’t be a true FutureDerm review if I didn’t talk about all of my thoughts on the product, good, bad, and ugly.

Collagen included in skin care products are one of my pet peeves when people don’t understand what the ingredient does. There is a size rule in skin care: ingredients larger than 500 Daltons cannot penetrate the skin. There is controversy here — some ingredients, like very large peptides, still have been shown in peer-reviewed studies to have downright amazing effects on the skin, indicating that they must be signaling to molecules within the skin from the outside. But in the case of collagen, it is just big and large and sits outside the skin, providing hydration, just like glycerin or another humectant. It’s not going to cause your skin to produce more collagen.

Same thing goes with amino acids: this product contains eight of the amino acids (Glycine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Arginine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid), but these have not been shown to do anything convincingly in the skin except hydrate.

One thing I do love about NEOVA is they are honest here. They don’t claim the collagen or amino acids are going to be magically incorporated into your skin even though they are too large to penetrate it. They’re just simply listed in the ingredients, and they just simply hydrate.

Green Tea: Fantastic

EGCG Green Tea Ingredient Benefits  Polyphenol Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate

Green tea contains the polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to have remarkable preventive effects against UV light-caused mutations and skin damage in mouse models. While EGCG comprises only 50% of “green tea extract” found in skin care and cosmeceuticals (Mukhtar), there is still enough EGCG to demonstrate anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties in most skin care and cosmeceuticals.

There is some relevant data in which green tea is applied topically to human skin as well. In a 2001 study in the journal Carcinogenesis, topical application of EGCG to human skin resulted in decreased oxidative stress and an increase in antioxidant enzymes after UV irradiation. Specifically, catalase and glutathione activity were increased due to the application of EGCG. A further 2003 study in Molecular Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention found that the polyphenols in green tea prevent UVB-induced oxidation of lipids and proteins and prevents against the depletion in antioxidant enzymes experienced after UVB exposure in mouse skin.

Overall Use and Opinions

I’m a big fan of NEOVA products, because they contain a DNA repair enzyme technology that is patent-pending and therefore I can’t get my hands on it or redesign it in a lab (boo, I say, boo). That said, I was pretty excited when they came out with their new NEOVA Progressive Nourishing Lotion ($95.00,, which contains both DNA repair enzymes and copper peptide. So long as we are all under the mutual understanding the collagen and amino acids only hydrate (and the company isn’t claiming anything else), I am downright cool with this product all-around.

Product Rating: 9/10 (High concentration of proven ingredients: 3/3. Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3. Value: 3/3. Sunscreen: 0/1).


Water (Aqua), Cyclopentasiloxane, Petrolatum, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Alanine/Histidine/Lysine Polypeptide Copper HCL, Lecithin, Plankton Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acetate, Soluble Collagen, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Sodium PCA, Betaine, Sorbitol, Glycine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Arginine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, Allantoin, Panthenol, Xanthan Gum, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Cetyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Acrylate/ Sodium Acryloyldimethyl TaurateCopolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 80, Polysilicone-11, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), Benzyl Salicylate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool.

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  • Nicki Zevola — I personally like this one for evenings, after a retinoid or AHA serum or lightweight moisturizer.

    I don’t see this product as particularly aggravating to skin that is broken out, because the major ingredients in it haven’t been associated with inflammation. But it also isn’t going to be as helpful for breakouts as, say, a benzoyl peroxide or charcoal-rich treatment.

    Let me know how you like the NEOVA sunscreen! I like their products a lot.

    All the best,

    • Oh excellent – especially since I alternate between an AHA/BHA serum and my Futurederm Retinol at night. I love that this would suit both treatments/serums without any issues. I’ll have to think about introducing it later on into my routine. OH and btw – I’m so glad that other brands and products are available in your shop – smaller niche brands like Neova are difficult to get a hold of in Aus and if you do find a stockist, the prices are usually well inflated (it gets quite ridiculous actually!).

      I just saw the the Futurederm eye cream is back in stock which is great! Any news about when the facial moisturisers might be back in? 🙂


      • Nicki Zevola

        Hi @Beverly — No eye cream yet, still working on moisturizer…I am thinking of reformulating it! Hang tight!


    Hi Nicki,

    Would you recommend using this lotion/moisturiser more so in the evening or in the mornings? And when you say it shouldn’t be used on broken skin – would you recommend that it shouldn’t be used on top of any kind of breakouts (because of inflammation etc)?

    I ordered the Neova sunscreen on your recommendation, so I am really excited to try my first Neova product 🙂 If all goes well, this will be next on my list! 😛

  • Nicki Zevola

    Hi @Maria,

    Sorry if that was confusing!

    Matrix metalloproteinases are enzymes that breakdown collagen. As you age, matrix metalloproteinase activity presumably gets greater, resulting in sagging skin, fine lines, wrinkles, and an overall loss in skin resilience, elasticity, and suppleness.

    In normal instances, you want to inhibit, or reduce/stop, the activity of matrix metalloproteinases in the skin.

    When copper is used on broken/injured skin in at least one study, it activates matrix metalloproteinases. This would be an undesirable outcome in normal/intact skin, but in broken/injured skin, it can help to accelerate the healing process, which mandates breaking down old tissues before rebuilding them.

    When copper is used in normal/intact skin, it does not activate matrix metalloproteinases and actually stops them, rebuilding collagen.

    Does this help? I hope so, but if not, let me know and I’ll try to find more studies or write another article to explain it better!

    All the best,

  • Nicki Zevola

    Hi @Margo,

    Thanks for the great question. Where did you find that you cannot use vitamin C and copper peptides at the same time? If this is true, I did not know it, and would love a reference/article/study, if you don’t mind.

    All the best,

  • Maria

    I’m not sure I understand: if copper aids healing then why does skin need to be uninjured in order to use it? Thanks

  • margo

    I see you are enthusiastic about Neova and copper peptides. I am interested in trying this product but I use a vitamin c serum and I understand you can not use vitamin c and copper peptides at the same time. your advice?

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