So we all know that collagen is important. Every single anti-aging serum or moisturizer on the market claims to replenish or boost collagen production. However, to really know whether or not that is even a remote possibility from your skincare product, you have to know a bit of science about your body and how it makes that magical thing called Collagen.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is protein in the body that hold your tissue in place. It is where the firmness of your skin comes from. It is the main building block for cells, tissues and organs. If you were to drain all the water from your skin, collagen would be about 70% of what would remain. Collagen, keratin and elastin give the skin its texture, elasticity and structure. We will take about Keratin & Elastin in later blogs.
The body creatives the collagen that it needs very rapidly at first to keep up with the rate in which humans grow, but the production speed decreases as apart of growing older. If fact, women make less collagen than men and the collagen we do make, we lose at about a rate of 1% per year. Therefore ladies, naturally we are pre-exposed to lose almost half of the collagen from our skin by the age of 50.
What are the cause of collagen loss or damage?
Indeed naturally we will produce less collagen, however here are a few Unnatural causes that contribute.
Sun Damage is the leading environmental cause for depleting collagen. Why you ask? The sun gives us some great things, however not in this case. Too much sun exposure causes collagen to break down faster than with just normal aging. Over exposure to the sun damages collagen fibers and the body has to replace the damaged collagen vs repair it. Reproduction happens less frequently in an aging body.
Skin Dehydration is the second leading contributor to collagen loss. When collagen becomes dried out, it loses all springy resilience, this can lead to wrinkles, puffiness and
Poor Diet is the third leading cause of lower collagen production and loss. Do you ever wonder why it seem previous generations kept their looks a bit longer than the current. I believe our very fast paced instant gratification lifestyles has hindered our ability to get proper nutrition on a daily basis. My grandmother’s twin in 100 years old and doesn’t look a day over 80...and she still refuses to eat anything heated in the microwave. I don’t know...but my Very scientific brain thinks there is a connection...anyway...I digress.
Unhealthy environmental habits such as smoking, pollutants and recreational drugs have a large effect on depleting or damaging collagen.
How can you maintain the collagen you have?
Properly caring for the outer layer of your skin will help preserve the collagen you currently have.
Ensure your skin’s oily base is maintained. Meaning, moisturize your skin and drink plenty of water. The best way to curb natural dry skin is from the inside out. Of course, you have to use a moisturizer to seal in the inner moisture as environmental changes can contribute to chapped skin. Chapped skin is more susceptible to damaged collagen.
Protect your skin! The leading cause of collagen damage (aside from the natural aging process) is Sun Damage. Too much sun exposure can break down the collagen in your skin and over time causing it to loose its firmness. Personally, I searched for a Sunscreen that didn’t feel sticky or clammy or smell like sunscreen.. I like the Epionce Daily Shield Sun Screen because I can apply it makeup, it is water resistant and is not oily. I also like it because it pumps pre-measured amounts so I don’t use too much and it lasts longer, but that is just the Accountant in me..
Do collagen supplements, vitamins or Creams work?
There are a ton and products that claim in you take this pill or drink this bottle of whatever and it will help your body repair or produce more collagen to replace what has been lost and thus, making the skin more firm and youthful in appearance. The truth is there isn’t much scientific evidence to support the claim. Collagen is a protein and when digested, it is broken down by the acids in the stomach and our bodies takes from that protein what it needs to make new cells. We cannot dictate how or what the bodies chooses to do with the food we provide it., at least not yet.
Do collagen creams work? Creams that contain collagen cannot replace damaged college in the skin. Skin cannot absorb collagen molecules through the epidermis (outer layer of skin), they are too large. However, products that have collagen in them, make good moisturizers. The collagen binds to the skin well and helps hold in moisture.
So if supplements & collagen creams aren’t the answers, what is?
Foods ,Skin Care Ingredients and Treatments that Boost Collagen Production.
What foods help your body produce collagen?
Think the brighter the better. Brightly colored fresh foods kale, tomatoes, red apples, blackberries, grapefruit, watermelon oranges, strawberries, contain antioxidant called lycopene and are rich in vitamin C, which helps prevent low collagen production and is key for skin firming maintenance. Veggies like broccoli and cauliflower provide natural defenses that fight free radical that attach collage, these little Ninjas are called glucosinolates, Don’t forget to eat your salmon. Omega-3 fatty acid acid is an anti-inflammatory which help protect and heal the skin. Avoid things will lots of r caffeine, it can be can be dehydrating. Oh and studies show sugar is not the best either, check out this article on how sugar causes depleting collagen.
What products are great for protecting and speed up collagen production?
If you are like me, you do your best to eat healthy, but there are days or really weeks when the practice of good habits goes out the window and you eat the best of what is being served out of a drive through. So to help offset my bad weeks, I use a skin care regime the contains ingredients developed to help preserve the collagen in my skin.
First, I use a gentle face wash that does not strip the skin of its natural oils, remember dehydration is a big no-no. Then I use a moisturizer that has a (or a few) tretinoins in it. Tretinoin can stimulate the fibroblasts (special cells that produce collagen) in the dermis (under the visible layer of skin) and help produce new collagen. Examples of tretinoin are Retin -A, Peptides, and plant extracts such as Cellrella and Echinacea Angustifolia -- don’t ask me how to pronounce the last two.
What procedures are can repair collagen or stimulate growth?
There are other more invasive treatments for damaged collagen such as Hyaluronic acid injections or Frauel Lasers. The first, hyaluronic acid injections, is a natural water-binding component of the skin. It helps to stimulate collagen production by surrounding fibroblasts with of water. These injections have been found to preserve collagen and boost new collagen production. Collagen is a major part of healing your skin, say you are cut, the scab that initially forms is collagen. This is why treatments like Fraxel Lasers, and Thermage and Ultherapy (which are forms of radiofrequency modalities). These treatments first damage the skin in a very controlled manner so that collagen renewal process can be stimulated. All of these methods work very well to tighten the skin and improve its appearance. Lasers treatments are designed to stimulate regrowth on the surface area of skin and the radiofrequency skin treatments work to tighten deeper dermal areas. They are wonderful when used in moderation, I believe just like all other parts of the body as we age, the skin can become fatigued and invasive treatments like these in excess can do more harm than good.
Main Sources: Mark Lees the Skin Care Answer Book, M. Varina Michalun Skin Care & Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary.
Other Sources; I am obsessed with Skincare, some knowledge is from the Women's Health Magazines in my bathroom, other random blogs articles (referenced sites are linked) and just my brain.
I am an esthetician, wife & mom that has a love affair with Skincare & Cosmetics.