Collagen is a must for healthy skin. Surely you’ve heard about it. Well, it’s not all hype. The skin needs collagen to look youthful, strong and supple. If you suffer with tired, aging skin, it could be that your skin lacks collagen.
Let’s learn more about what collagen is, why your skin needs it, and how you can boost collagen the easy way for more beautiful, youthful-looking skin.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a type of protein. It provides strength and support between cell layers and the muscles that are responsible for making facial expression. Collagen also provides a foundation so that the skin surface has support, helping to prevent wrinkles and skin sagging.
Types of collagen in skin
There are many different types of collagen. Roughly 80% of the collagen in skin is composed of collagen Type 1 and collagen Type 3. When it comes to rejuvenating skin, this is where you want to focus your efforts.
Collagen Type I
This is by far the most abundant collagen in the human body. This hearty, strong collagen fiber is found in the skin, tendons, artery walls, cornea of the eye, the endomysium which surrounds muscle fibers, bones and teeth.
Collagen Type III
This is the collagen that is produced by young fibroblasts before the tougher type I collagen gets synthesized. Type III collagen supports strong skin, muscles, bones, hair and nail growth. It is also found in the artery walls, uterus and intestines.
How is collagen made?
Fibroblasts are a type of specialized cell that is found in the connective tissue of humans and animals. Fibroblasts are like little collagen-making factories. They also play a critical role in wound healing.
The job of fibroblasts is to make tropocollagen, which is a collagen precursor, and also ground substance, a jelly-like matrix that fills the spaces that exist between the cells and fibers found in connective tissue.
Why skin needs collagen
Collagen is the building block of healthy skin. It’s what gives skin structure and integrity. Without it, the skin has little support. A strong network of collagen fibers makes skin firm and resilient. Loss of collagen leads to a tired, aged appearance due to the skin sagging, wrinkles, creases and fine lines that form when the surface of the skin doesn’t have a strong foundation to give it structure.
Signs of skin that lacks collagen
The skin is predisposed to all sorts of problems when collagen is lacking. Namely, an aged or tired appearance. While other factors may contribute to premature aging of the skin, collagen plays a big role in how skin looks and behaves.
Telltale signs of skin that lacks collagen include:
- Crow’s feet
- Nasolabial folds
- Eyebrow furrows (11s)
- Forehead lines
- Sagging cheeks and jowls
- Loss of skin strength
- And more.
How collagen changes with age
Research has proven that collagen production slows dramatically with age. By age 30, collagen production is nearly half of what it was in your younger years. Unfortunately, this shows on skin rather quickly. The problem gets worse each year as collagen production continues to slow down.
Young skin has plenty of collagen. For this reason, youthful skin is strong, resilient and supple. Wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines are nowhere to be seen. With a strong network of collagen fibers, the skin looks its best.
While nature takes its course and more years pass by, it is inevitable that collagen production will slow down. While this can be dismaying, that is no reason to give up hope. For women that are concerned about aging skin, it pays to take steps to help skin produce as much collagen as possible.
It’s not just the amount of collagen produced that is important, but also the quality of the collagen. The best way to support collagen production is with a healthy lifestyle.
Lifestyle choices that inhibit collagen production
Poor lifestyle choices can affect collagen production in disastrous ways. A sugary diet, smoking and alcohol consumption definitely take a toll on skin. One reason is that they all produce heaps of free radicals, which are the enemy of healthy skin.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals happen when oxygen in the body splits into atoms with single electrons. Electrons prefer to be in pairs. These atoms, known as free radicals, go scavenging to find other electrons to pair with. It’s basically a war of stealing electrons that can wreak havoc on the body. The fight for electrons stresses the body, causing damage to cells, proteins (like collagen) and DNA.
For our purposes, we are concerned with the skin only. While the skin is busy fighting off free radicals, it leaves skin cells with little time or energy to do what they are really supposed to be doing, which is making new collagen, among other things. In order to maximize your skin’s collagen potential, it is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and minimize free radicals.
To protect skin from free radicals, avoid the following:
- Smoking & tobacco products
- Alcohol consumption
- Nicotine use (Smoking, vaping, nicotine patches and gum aka NRT)
- Excess sun exposure
- AIr pollution
- Sugary diet
- Too much caffeine
- Processed foods
- Exposure to harsh, irritating chemicals
- Drug use
- Not drinking enough water
- And other unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Fighting free radicals for healthy skin
In addition to eating well, exercising and limiting caffeine, alcohol and tobacco products, you can also introduce antioxidants to the game. Antioxidants are free-radical defenders that work to promote calm, healthy skin.
Eat an antioxidant-rich diet
There are two ways to incorporate antioxidants into your routine. The first is by adding them to your diet. Blueberries, acai berries and green tea are excellent sources of antioxidants.
Here are some of the foods highest in antioxidants you can try:
- Goji berries
- Sweet potato
- Whole grains
- Red cabbage
- Green tea
- Spinach & dark, leafy greens
- Orange vegetables
While you are eating an antioxidant-rich diet, you can attack free radicals another way. Topical antioxidants help support the fight against free radicals that compete for collagen production in skin cells.
One of the best antioxidants for skin is topical vitamin C. The best vitamin C serums have a stabilizer (such as vitamin E) to reduce oxidation, since vitamin C is known to degrade quickly in the bottle. That way, you can make the bottle last months instead of weeks.
Simply dab a few drops of vitamin C serum on your face, neck, hands and décolletage every day. As a bonus, vitamin C has shown some sun protection activity, which is great for diminishing signs of skin aging. While this is no reason to skip daily sunscreen, it can’t hurt.
It’s not just vitamin C that can boost your antioxidant game. Green tea moisturizers are gaining favor since green tea is packed with antioxidants that may calm and soothe skin that has been irritated by free radicals and environmental stress. Nearly all anti-pollution skincare products contain antioxidants that help shield skin from the elements while boosting free radical-fighting activity.
Tips to boost collagen
If you are tired of looking old and tired, you may want to increase your collagen intake. Hydrolyzed collagen supplements and eating collagen-rich foods are a great way to do this. Another tip to remember is using sunscreen every day. Too much sun degrades collagen, and the damage can last a lifetime. It’s hard to reverse sun-damaged skin, but certain treatments may help. Getting enough sleep and de-stressing is also necessary to help skin cells function optimally so as to maximize collagen production.
Clinical treatments to correct collagen loss in skin
It’s important to preserve and boost collagen production by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But the fact is, doing so only goes so far. We can’t stop skin aging altogether. However, advanced clinical treatments can make up the difference when skin aging becomes moderate to severe.
SkinPen is an in-office dermatological treatment that penetrates the skin with fine microscopic needles. It works by creating micro-channels in the skin, a controlled skin injury that stimulates natural skin repair. As a result, skin produces extra collagen and elastin. First, the skin is cleansed and then a numbing cream is applied to make the treatment more comfortable. The needles are tiny, so there is no need to be afraid.
SkinPen also boosts active ingredients and PRP facials since the microscopic holes made by the pen allow ingredients to penetrate deeper, enhancing the effects.
PRP facial (platelet-rich plasma)
One of our favorite collagen-enhancing treatments at Specialist Skin Solutions is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). You might know it as the vampire facial. Sounds icky, but the results are beautiful. PRP is excellent after SkinPen treatments. The combination causes controlled damage to the skin while introducing your body’s own nutrient-rich plasma (derived from a small sample of your blood) to improve skin firmness and radiance.
Collagen induction modalities stimulate skin to repair and strengthen itself. As dermal therapist Lea Barclay says, “It’s giving a gentle nudge to the skin to say, hey, hang on, we need a little bit more” collagen. The skin’s a lot fresher after treatment and the recovery period is short.
PRP facials stimulate collagen production for firmer skin, improves skin texture and even reduces age spots and sun damage as well.
For post-menopausal women, skin thinning is a problem due to hormones. SkinPen with PRP therapy has been shown to thicken the epidermis, adding strength and resiliency.
Vitamin A peel
Chemical peels quickly lift off all the dead skin cells, creating a chain reaction to stimulate collagen in the skin, Lea explains. As the old, dead skin sloughs away, the fresh, radiant skin beneath it has a chance to shine. If you suffer from dull skin and/or fine wrinkles caused by collagen loss, peels are excellent for that.
Many women are scared of chemical peel downtime. Not all peels have much downtime if any, though. Light, medium and deep peels are available depending on the severity of skin aging and which condition(s) you wish to treat. With light vitamin A peels, mild flaking and a bit of red or pink skin is generally the worst you can expect. Different strengths are available depending on the skin concern.
Specialist Skin Solutions will tailor the peel strength to your exact needs, and our specialists will advise you of any special aftercare instructions if necessary.
Note: Pregnant women should avoid vitamin A due to a potential risk of birth defects.
Your skin needs collagen to thrive
Collagen is vital to skin that is strong, healthy and resilient. For women with premature aging, it’s important to promote collagen production naturally. There are many steps you can take to boost collagen production, and they are surprisingly simple to do at home. Clinical beauty treatments can take anti-aging results a step further.