What speeds up collagen loss?
Why It’s Never Too Early to Start Protecting the Collagen In Your Skin
You can’t see collagen, but it’s the essence of healthy skin—and research shows yours is at risk.
Beth Janes O’Keefe is a seasoned writing and editing professional specializing in health, fitness, beauty, and lifestyle topics. She has served as an editor at SELF, Shape, and O, The Oprah Magazine, and her articles have appeared in SELF, Shape, Health, Parents, Chicago magazine, Good Housekeeping, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Epicurious.com, MensFitness.com, Yoga Journal, and others. She has also produced a variety of content across a range of platforms for clients, such as Walgreens, Procter & Gamble, Fila USA, American Express, and more. She currently resides in Detroit, Michigan.
Updated on August 26, 2022
Let’s start with what collagen is and why you definitely want it. Collagen is what makes your complexion firm, plump, and youthful. Sure, there’s other important stuff in the mix, but this protein makes up 75 to 80 percent of your dermis. «Collagen fibers are like a bunch of sturdy, fat Roman columns placed close together, holding up the top layer of skin,» says Dennis Gross, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. «When you’re young and healthy, the pillars are strong, straight, and plentiful, so skin looks smooth. And when you pinch your cheek, skin feels spongy and full.» When skin is healthy, it repairs and makes new collagen. If everything is working as it should, then cellular collagen-making machines called fibroblasts churn out new collagen and your body produces enzymes that, like a microscopic wrecking crew, break down old or damaged collagen and carry it away, says Ronald Moy, M.D., a derm in Beverly Hills, California. The result: a collagen give-and-take that keeps skin looking smooth and young.
But things like ultraviolet rays, smoking, pollution, stress, and other factors wreak havoc by producing free radicals in your skin. «Free radicals are like little arrows that poke holes in and break down collagen fibers, causing skin to thin,» Gross explains. Even more bad news: Excessive sun exposure reduces fibroblasts’ collagen factories, causing a flimsier, weaker collagen layer, and overstimulates the wrecking crew that then clears out healthy collagen. (It’s not just the sun you should be scared of; pollution might be your skin’s biggest enemy.)
No matter how much sunscreen you wear, eventually these collagen-making cells lose steam. «When you’re young, they make a lot of collagen, but they get worn down starting around age 35,» Gross says. The enzymes that break down collagen, however, become overactive because of excess sun exposure and damage from years earlier. Then come wrinkles and sagging. Make an expression, and you usually create creases. When collagen is strong, your skin bounces right back. But if collagen is weak, repeated movements cause permanent creases. Skin doesn’t have enough collagen to fill in the groove, so you see a line even when you’re not squinting or furrowing, and it no longer has the same density to resist gravity, Gross says. (It doesn’t help if you’re in one of America’s most wrinkle-prone cities.)
1. Start caring about your collagen now.
When you’re relatively young and fibroblasts are at their peak-before you see the effects of sun or other damage-is the best time to protect collagen against future damage and begin shoring up skin’s collagen layer. «Once skin starts to thin and sag, it’s much harder to correct,» Moy says. But it’s never too late to adopt healthy-skin habits. One way to do it, which you’re probably already doing: exercise and eat well. «Anything that increases oxygenation and blood supply to collagen will make skin healthier,» he says. Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, meanwhile, help protect collagen from the inside.
2. Use antioxidants and sunscreen as your collagen’s bodyguards.
It takes only two short exposures to UVA rays (two hours of strong sun over two days) to turn up the body’s production of the collagen-degrading enzyme MMP1. Levels increase with additional exposures, according to University of Michigan researchers. On the other hand, fair-skinned people who ramped up their sunscreen use, applying it at least three to four times a week, showed no detectable signs of aging after four and a half years and had smoother skin (which in part indicates healthier collagen) compared with those who maintained usual, less-frequent sunscreen application, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine of more than 900 Australians.
Using a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher is a must. Try DCL Super Sheer Sunscreen SPF 50 ($50; dclskincare.com) or one of these other super protective sunscreens. You’ll also need antioxidants to neutralize damaging free radicals and extinguish inflammation. A few antioxidants pull double duty and stimulate collagen while protecting it. «Vitamin C is one key that fits into specific receptors on fibroblast cells, helping to turn them on,» Gross says. The best serums combine vitamin C with vitamin E and ferulic acid, two antioxidants that boost vitamin C’s power eight-fold, according to research. Copper peptides likewise can benefit skin as an antioxidant and collagen stimulator, says Ranella Hirsch, M.D., a derm in Boston. Try Dermadoctor Kakadu C 20% Vitamin C Serum With Ferulic Acid & Vitamin E ($95; dermadoctor.com) or Christie Brinkley Recapture Day + IR Defense ($69; kohls.com.)
3. Build collagen as you would a workout routine.
HIIT, yoga, Pilates: They all work in different ways to help you reach one goal-to get fit. The same goes for collagen building. «You want to expose fibroblasts to multiple ingredients, each of which targets different receptors but all of which tell cells to produce more collagen,» Gross says. In addition to looking for key ingredients that help stimulate collagen growth, you ~can~ actually make it part of your workout routine by adding a supplement like NeoCell’s Super Collagen Powder to your go-to post-workout smoothie.
Along with sunscreen and vitamin C, this is what else helps get your collagen in shape:
Proven and Potent: Vitamin A Derivatives
Prescription retinoic acid (like Retin-A) and OTC retinol may be old news at this point, but that’s a good thing: It means they’ve withstood the test of time because they work, says Hirsch. (New trends, like venom beauty products, don’t have as much cred.) Both retinoic acid and retinol «turn on» genes and cells involved in collagen production. They also help organize new and existing collagen, Hirsch says. A recent study found that a four-week treatment with .1 percent retinol increased levels of procollagen types 1 and 3 (the body’s precursor to collagen) and reduced wrinkles after 12 weeks. Retinol and Retin-A can be irritating, so limit yourself to a pea-size drop for your entire face, starting only every other night, she says. Try La Roche-Posay Redermic R Anti-Aging Concentrate Intensive With 0.1% retinol ($57; laroche-posay. us) or Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum ($88; drdennisgross.com).
Gentle Collagen Stimulators: Peptides and Growth Factors
Both have science to back up their collagen-building, antiwrinkle claims. Peptides, like the ones found in Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream ($26; drugstores) and DDF Wrinkle Resist Plus Pore Minimizer Serum ($85; ulta.com), for example, act as messengers, telling cells to ramp up collagen production. Growth factors stimulate fibroblasts and stem cells to encourage new cells and collagen. (Try SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex, $179; skinmedica.com.) The advantage over vitamin A: Both are less irritating, but results may take longer or be more subtle, which is why many experts recommend doubling up-retinoids at night or every other night, peptides and growth factors in the morning or on the night you skipped vitamin A.
4. Try the newest collagen skin-care products.
If collagen is the holy grail of healthy skin, ingredients that trigger its production are what unlock its power-and the search is on for the next best thing. These three newcomers show promise.
DNA repair enzymes, which were initially developed to thwart skin cancer, also have the benefit of reducing collagen loss. When you fix skin’s damaged DNA, it becomes thicker and tighter, Moy says. Try his RM DNA Regeneration Serum ($145; dnaegfrenewal.com), which also contains growth factors.
Signaling proteins from snails seem odd, yes, but lab research shows that the proteins, which are a type of growth factor, tell dormant stem cells to reproduce and grow into collagen-making fibroblasts. Find them in Biopelle Tensage Stem Cell Cream ($180; biopelle.com).
Collagen-building supplements, meanwhile, sound too good to be true, but new research on a specific, more easily absorbed collagen peptide is noteworthy. Women who took 2.5 grams of a collagen peptide called Verisol for eight weeks showed an increase in procollagen type 1 (a precursor to skin’s own collagen) of 65 percent compared with a placebo, according to a study in the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. Eye-wrinkle depth also decreased by 20 percent compared with the control. But as with any supplements, buyer beware: Not every type of ingestible collagen has clinical trials backing up its promises, and even in those that do, results can be subtle. Want to give it a try? Verisol’s collagen peptides are in ResVitále Collagen Renew ($25; gnc.com).
5. Go with a professional procedure.
Pro procedures take collagen building to the next level. Topical treatments are effective and easy, but it can take months to see results. The alternative: in-office treatments. (Speaking of which, there are procedures that can fix the trouble zones-cellulite, stubborn abdominal fat, etc.-that your workout can’t.) They’re pricier, of course-one can cost $1,000 or more, and you may need three to five-but they work (almost) at the speed of, well, light. Gross utilizes V-beam and Gentlemax lasers simultaneously during his 3-D collagen treatment to target multiple fibroblast receptors, with no recovery time.
Fractionated lasers, such as Fraxel, are another go-to, thanks to good results balanced with minimal downtime. They cause microscopic, controlled «injuries» in the collagen layer, which the body repairs by making, you guessed it, new collagen. Professional microneedling works in a similar, albeit lower-tech way; tiny puncture wounds on the surface of the skin jump-start the healing and collagen-building process, and also help collagen-building ingredients penetrate deeper, Moy says.
Another option in the dermatologists’ toolkit: injectable hyaluronic acid fillers, such as Juvéderm and Restylane. Research shows that along with plumping wrinkles from below, they have an effect on skin’s own collagen-making cells. «Skin cells are smart. When you inject fillers, they think, ‘OK, this is how skin is structured now, let’s produce more collagen to keep up,'» Hirsch says. «It’s subtle, but over time, patients often find they need to come in less frequently-every five months instead of every three, for example.» The right pro treatment depends on your skin and other factors; talk to your derm about what’s best.
What happens to collagen in our skin as we age?
Collagen is one of the most important substances in your body. It’s a glue that helps the body maintain its shape and structure by binding tissues and cells.
With age, natural collagen production begins to slow, and cell structures weaken. Skin becomes thinner and sags, leading to wrinkle formation.
Your body begins to lose collagen when you turn 30. The effects become noticeable after several years. Even though this is a natural process, it’s possible to speed it up with UV exposure, pollution, bad skin habits, and poor diet choices. In our 40s, as we head into perimenopause and menopause, the skin quickly loses collagen. Studies show that women’s skin loses about 30% of its collagen during the first five years of menopause. After that, the decline is more gradual. Women then lose about 2% of their collagen ever year for the next 20 years.
The loss of collagen affects the way you look and feel. The first signs may be subtle. However, the earlier you start, the more you can do to replenish the collagen in your body to see positive results.
Loss of Natural Fullness
Cheeks become flatter while the under-eye area develops hollows. Unless you’ve lost a lot of weight recently, these are probably signs of collagen loss.
Since collagen powers skin elasticity, as it starts decreasing so does the firmness of your skin. You may notice the sagging effect on your jawline, cheeks, buttocks, and stomach.
Wrinkles and Fine Lines
Since the loss of collagen leads to the dehydration and thinning of the skin, wrinkles and fine lines begin to appear.
Hair begins to thin and stops looking as healthy as it did before. You may also notice hair loss. As the amount of collagen starts decreasing, hair could begin to split and break.
It’s worth noting that all the above symptoms may also signal other health conditions. That’s why it’s important to consult with your doctor, avoid self-diagnosis, and be careful about self-prescribing any supplements or medication.
Replenishing Collagen in Your Body
As the body starts losing collagen, and adverse effects begin to become bothersome, people look for ways to replenish this highly important protein. Several methods exist today.
Supplements are one of the most popular ways to increase collagen levels. Some studies show that they may improve the elasticity and appearance of your skin. It’s also worth noting that you can only enjoy the benefits while you are taking supplements. As soon as you stop supplying your body with collagen, effects may disappear.
Adjusting Your Diet
To produce collagen, your body needs nutrients from protein-rich food as well as vitamin C, zinc, and copper. You can help your body by adjusting your diet to provide it the necessary building blocks. Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, and beans are all rich in protein. One of the most helpful products is bone broth.
Have regular treatments that help boost collagen
We’ve a selection of facials that help boost collagen production. Improving the skin’s tone, texture, and elasticity by counteracting the effects collagen loss, leaving your skin feeling refreshed and looking brighter. Incorporating regular facials can improve the way your skin looks and feels and helps boost collagen production.
SF HIFU SKIN TIGHTENING
High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), is a must have treatment that heats the tissues below the deeper layers of the skin, causing it to contract and tighten. This therefore enables the health and vitality of the skin to improve and become uplifted in just one session!
Over time, collagen fibres begin to lose elasticity, which in turn causes the skin to lose it’s firmness and start to sag. The SF HIFU Med is unmatched by other non-invasive cosmetic devices, with it’s ability to treat the tissues usually addressed during surgical facelifts. Using ultra-sound waves, the superficial muscular aponeurotic system is targeted. The tissues are heated to a range between 60-70 ̊C, thus the natural wound healing process is stimulated to create new collagen and elastin. The technology specifically targets the SMAS, and thus, collagen production is stimulated and the process of tissue regeneration begins. This causes tightening and lifting of the skin and tissues, resulting in a lifted appearance and a tightened feeling in the Face & Body areas. MORE INFO
Lynton Illumi Facial
Illumi Facial is the ‘next generation’ of the highly successful ‘Photofacial’ treatments, using a new and unique combination of special Lynton skincare together with powerful, medical-grade Lynton IPL technology. A full treatment plan will then be tailored to treat your specific concerns, all aiming to improve the appearance, feel and health of your skin. MORE INFO
NEW Janssen Marine Collagen Facial
Immerse yourself into the world of the sea – with the New marine Collagen Facial. Collagen is a scaffold protein in the skin and provides strength and elasticity. Marine collagen has the same triple helix structure as human skin and has high water retention capacity. It covers the skin like a film that binds moisture, filling out fine lines and wrinkles. This new treatment helps tightens as it dries and creates a noticeable and visible lifting effect.
We all have skin types with different issues and our skin is forever changing, so it is important to tailor our services to you. With all our treatments we recommend that you book a consultation and come in to discuss your problem areas so we can find a treatment to suit your needs. COMING SOON