why is collagen for skin important?
Collagen is the most abundant and strongest protein in your body. It’s formed by the cross linking and winding together of amino acids to form collagen fibres. It makes up about 75% of the weight of your skin and around a 30% of your total body protein mass. Structurally, collagen is made up of long fibres of protein that provide strength to the skin and hold it together. Collagen helps the skin cells repair and renew and keeps the skin moist.
There are at least 16 primary variations of collagen in your body also known as types. Collagen is found in the connective tissue, tendons, cartilage, skin, ligaments, teeth, bones, the valves of the heart and the cornea.
When collagen levels are high, your skin is smooth, soft and firm as a baby’s bottom. By your mid-twenties, collagen production in your body starts to slow down and diminish. By the time you’re eighty, you’ll have four times less collagen which helps to explain the formation of wrinkles and sagging skin.
can topical products boost levels?
As a compound of essential amino acids, your body doesn’t produce collagen so it must be acquired via your diet. To form healthy protein fibres, your body requires vitamin C and iron to boost collagen synthesis. Without these nutrients, your skin can become fragile and collagen levels can decrease.
Contrary to popular belief, collagen when applied topically, is unable to penetrate the skin because it’s a large protein molecule so it can’t cross into the lower layers of the skin. It may assist with hydration, but if you see hydrolysed collagen listed on the label and touted as a miracle ingredient, it can’t increase the amount of collagen found in your skin. Instead, look for products that contain peptides, vitamins and antioxidants that can boost collagen supplies and restore elastin to the skin.
what damages collagen?
- Lifestyle and environmental stressors – pollution and free radicals can diminish collagen production and reduce skin elasticity.
- High sugar consumption – increases the rate of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that damage nearby proteins, weakening collagen and making it dry and brittle.
- Sun – UV rays damage collagen found in the dermis, causing it to break down, and creates abnormal elastin fibres to rebuild incorrectly beneath the skin, forming wrinkles.
- Tobacco – the combination of chemicals in tobacco smoke damage collagen and elastin. Nicotine also restricts the blood vessels compromising the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the skin.
- Genetic changes – can affect collagen production and quality.
- Autoimmune disorders – some autoimmune disorders can cause antibodies to target collagen, resulting in less plumpness of the skin.
- Ageing process – unavoidable! Collagen levels decrease and deplete naturally throughout our lifespan.
11 ways you can boost collagen
There are many ways to boost collagen through diet and supplementation, which will help add volume to your skin while supporting optimal health.
Consuming a balanced diet that contains protein in the form of fatty fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A (which has an anti-inflammatory effect) and contains antioxidants, both of which scavenge free radicals and prevent loss or degradation of collagen.
For the non-vegans, regular consumption of bone broth is considered to have nutritional and healing benefits, as the collagen leaches out of the bones during the cooking process. This can also help with inflammation and improving your skin.
Limit or cut the caffeine – studies have revealed that caffeine may have an adverse effect on skin ageing and the wound healing process of human skin. A popular practice of adding collagen to your morning cup of coffee may be counterintuitive and minimise the damage caused by caffeine. So if collagen and skin health is at the top of your list of concerns then it may be best to avoid altogether.
Hyaluronic acid – (also found in our Age Defiance Collection) is an important compound for collagen in the skin. It’s found in foods that are rich in amino acids like root vegetables, beans and soy. It can also be found as a supplement.
Vitamin C – is a super skin vitamin as it promotes the formation of collagen and protects the skin. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries, broccoli and green, leafy vegetables. It can also be taken as a supplement.
Aloe vera – we know that aloe vera has soothing and calming properties for the skin when applied topically. Recent studies have revealed that extracted aloe sterols taken as a supplement doubled the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid in the body and skin.
Antioxidants – protect against free radical damage. Certain antioxidants enhance the effectiveness of collagen production and rejuvenate the skin. Include green tea, blueberries, licorice extract, mulberry extract, yerba mate, pomegranate extract, astragalus, cinnamon, essential oils of basil, oregano and thyme.
Ginseng – Ginseng increases the amount of collagen found in the bloodstream. It also contains anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties and may have the potential to stop the ageing of skin cells. It can be found in the form of tea, tinctures and supplements.
Nutrients that may support collagen formation include:
Anthocyanins – found in blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries.
Proline – found in egg whites, cheese, soy, cabbage and meat.
Vitamin A – found in plants as beta-carotene and animal derived foods.
Copper – found in shellfish, red meat, nuts and some drinking water.
Retinol (Vitamin A derivative) – is another antioxidant that can boost collagen levels by increasing the lifespan and blocking certain enzymes that destroy collagen. This makes it a great addition to products that contain vitamin A. Use at night only. Avoid use in conjunction with sunlight and if you are pregnant.
A regular exercise regime – can help reduce visible ageing whilst protecting collagen and keeping your skin collagen levels, bones, muscles and joints healthier for longer.