(Disclaimer – this review is not an ad, sponsored or paid for and does not contain any affiliate links. All products PR/Brand/Retailer sent unless otherwise stated.)
I love how some things come full circle. Two years ago Victoria Health debuted the Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1% from NIOD, Deciem’s (at the time) newest skincare venture in the 2015 May Newsletter and on Tuesday I was featured in this year’s May Newsletter talking about my love for the 5% version. The honour of being featured on The Podium (alongside the Wayne Goss no less) was exciting and humbling, and led to lots of messages in my inbox asking all about CAIS 5%, so I thought it was time to get my thoughts and experiences out there because I could not love this wonder product more and you need to know why. When CAIS 1% first launched (review here) I immediately bought it, fell in love and pretty much started this blog a few months later so I could write a post about it because I was that impressed, and now almost two years later I have been blown away all over again.
To give you some background information, I have been using CAIS 1% on and off (mostly on) for two years and I love it. Back in 2015 it was the most advanced/active product I was using and the results were incredible. I didn’t have a blog then, but you can see what I said about it on Instagram below and I completely stand by that statement. It ended up being one of my most used/loved/repurchased products of the year and one of the products featured in my 2015 Favourites. In my original post (here) I wrote that this serum “really does it all, unlike anything I have ever used before” and I meant it. This was long before I started using retinols or higher strength acids and my skin just responded so well. I used it pretty religiously during that year, but from mid-2016 I started using it less regularly as I had things like NAAP and Verso’s retinol serum and I felt like maybe I didn’t need it anymore. Then The Ordinary launched and I began using a mix of those products and felt like CAIS 1% wouldn’t be necessary anymore but I was so wrong.
When Retinol 1% launched in January I immediately incorporated it into my skincare routine and pretty much within the first 2-3 uses started seeing great results along with the usual retin related side effects like dryness, peeling and sensitivity. Nothing drastically improved these symptoms (even adding a HA serum) until I started using CAIS 1% again. I was happily using that until India Knight wrote about CAIS 5% as one of her “all-time top five” products (article here) and I had a lightbulb moment. Aren’t these side effects exactly the type of “trauma” Brandon was referring to when he talked about who the 5% was best suited for? Wouldn’t the 5% solve these issues quicker and faster? Yes, yes and yes. I started using the 5% that night and the rest, as they say, is history.
CAIS 5% is as close to skincare magic as I’ve ever seen and experienced. It truly does it all and as I said in my last post (here), I now credit this for everything. It has worked to (quicker than anything else) lighten and prevent hyperpigmentation, improve tone, texture and clarity, was a key component in preventing a dairy induced skin meltdown and most importantly for me right now, has completely changed how my skin reacts to retinol. Now I have no dryness, a shorter peeling time and the skin that comes through after that happens? Completely different. It’s like it’s already healed. Before CAIS 5%, the peeling would reveal baby soft, insanely smooth skin that in some areas was slightly red, pretty sensitive and sort of “raw” in the sense that it would feel vulnerable and like a wound. Now it’s like the new skin comes through fully formed, but not only that, the retinol results have been even better. I have seen hyperpigmentation start to visibly lighten in days and my skin looks even and clear. I think one of the best things about CAIS is that it helps whatever active serum you’re using to work even better and show results much faster.
(unfiltered/unedited shot of what colour CAIS 5% should be.)
I can understand what Brandon meant when he said the 5% was best for short term extreme recovery and not for long term use, but I think I might have to disagree. I have been using it for two months now and it’s possible even he underestimates the power of what it can do. Besides it’s impressive anti-aging benefits it is a brilliant product for preventing and healing inflammation, which could be huge for those who suffer with acne. Anyone who has had more than the occasional blemish here or there knows that they come in stages and even when your skin looks clear on the surface, sometimes in direct sunlight you can see “invisible” acne lurking under the skin waiting to come through. This had happened to me (mostly when I eat dairy) and is basically a sign of crappy things to come for my skin, but thanks to this I don’t have to worry about that anymore. My skin is almost completely clear – both on the surface and below and during my most recent dairy incident (blog post here) the full face of “invisible acne” I had disappeared within a week and this product was the major reason why.
Both Gill and India use the 5% over the 1% regularly and I can see why. Even though my current 8 week results are not as extreme as when I first started using it (within the first month), they still seem better than what the 1% gives me and that’s possibly because of my retinol use. As I said, CAIS has just enhanced the results of the Retinol 1% to no end and after using retinol on it’s own, with the 1%, the 5% and even the 5% on it’s own – it is clear to me that my skin is better off when I use the 5%. I don’t really get “proper” breakouts anymore and yes, that is due to a combination of products, but CAIS 5% is absolutely the main reason. Not only that, my hyperpigmentation is fading faster than ever, my skin is more even and has a beautiful soft, plump, smooth texture. Again, a mix of other products (blog post coming soon on them all) are to thank for that, but this the main component.
I understand that many of you are new to NIOD, having only discovered Deciem after the launch of The Ordinary, so if you haven’t read my original review of CAIS 1% (here), I will briefly explain why Copper Tripeptide GHK-Cu is one of my all-time favourite ingredients. First, it is important to note that there is no actual copper in this serum and the name comes from the GHK peptide’s “chemical affinity” for the naturally occurring copper ions in our bodies, so there is no need to worry about a “fenton reaction”. What this serum does is keep the skin in a prolonged, heightened state of repair to tackle everything from hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, elasticity, inflammation, wound healing and more. It takes a 360 approach to anti-aging and focuses on overall skin health and function. It contains a mix of peptides, hyaluronic acid, zinc and skin conditioning agents that will treat, heal, protect and stimulate the skin. Victoria Health have an excellent description on their page which I have included here, because no one writes about NIOD better than Gill.
As you can see from the pictures above, the serum comes in two bottles that you mix together like the instructions illustrate. The colour should be a rich, inky navy blue and the texture should be like water. In a routine this would come immediately after cleansing and before everything else. You can see an example of how I use it in a routine above and for that lineup I cleansed, patted my skin dry, applied CAIS, waited 5 minutes to make sure it was fully absorbed, spritzed with the mist, then applied the HA serum and finished with the sunscreen. This stuff is extremely fluid and because it is so expensive I try to be frugal with how much I apply. I use just one drop for my forehead and then the below amount on each cheek and chin/upper lip/nose area. I bring my face down to my finger (if that makes sense) then quickly spread it on the intended area and doing this has helped prevent wastage and any product ending up in the sink. After two months of almost twice daily use (sometimes more when my skin was compromised, but I did miss some days) I am now coming to the end of the 15ml bottle and I think in the future I will be able to make the bottle last at least 3 months, as in the beginning I did use more than I needed just because I was so excited about the results, so going forward I will (hopefully) show more restraint and not overuse it.
I know this is an expensive product (£130 for 15ml but you can get a permanent discount through the VH Addict membership), but there are a number of ways you can use it. If you have an injured/compromised face you can use it consistently until the skin has healed then go back to the 1% or whatever you usually use. You could also just use it as a spot treatment on areas of pigmentation or to quickly heal picked blemishes. You could also use it seasonally to boost the skin every 3 or 4 months. It’s definitely important to use it consistently for at least a month if you have more advanced aging “issues”, but you can also just use it for just a week to heal and prevent inflammation and blemishes. As I said in my previous post (here), I strongly believe this is a must have for those who are skin pickers because it shortens the life span of the blemish, heals the wound incredibly fast and drastically reduces the risk of PIH. I think Brandon and Gill would agree that this is the type of product where it’s ok to use it on and off because the best results come from the first few uses.
Right now we are so lucky that the skincare industry is thriving and there are so many amazing options out there for every skin issue imaginable. I have used many different products and key ingredients, but nothing has worked as well as this. It’s possible that if you already use a retinol, Vit C, acids, or antioxidants etc that you might not need this or see the same results, but if you do have a slew of products in your stash yet still find yourself struggling with your skin then give this a go. It has completely changed how my skin functions, reacts and recovers and I will not be without it.