As we age and start thinking about the changes we are going through it is common to start taking health more seriously, like better diets and exercise routines, but what about our appearance that we show tho the world? Is it vain to want to look younger in the face, and does collagen face cream have any real benefits? With so many treatments out there let’s take a look at the cause and effect of collagen reduction, and ask if collagen face cream benefits us or is just another waste of time.
What Is Collagen
Consisting of amino acids bonded in a triple helix Collagen is the main structural protein in the skin and in various connective tissues such as cartilage, bones, tendons, ligaments, and of course the skin. The building blocks of the body.
Making up 25% to 35% of the body’s protein content this triple helix wonder can be deployed as rigid bone, compliant tendons, or any other connective tissue depending on the degree of mineralization. The collagen variant we are interested in acts like scaffolding and provides volume to the skin keeping it smooth and wrinkle-free.
How Does It Work
To answer this it’s important to understand the main types of collagen.
Type 1 makes up 90% of the body’s collagen content and it is the variant of collage responsible for the elastic, smooth, full skin. It’s also responsible for bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue, and teeth.
Type 2 is responsible for the elastic cartilage that cushions joints.
Type 3 is responsible for muscle growth, organs, and arteries.
Type 4 helps with filtration and is found in layers of the skin.
It is the protein that can turn its hand to anything but in the case of keeping the skin in good condition, it forms large eosinophilic fibers known as collagen fibers that are present in scar tissue when tissue heals by repair. The triple-stranded rope-like procollagen molecules are processed by enzymes outside the cell. Once the molecules are processed and arranged into long thin fibrils cross-link to one another, these cross-links result in the formation of a very strong mature type I.
Results Of Reduced Collagen
The reduction and loss of collagen is reasonably easy to see as it first manifests as fine lines on the face in the form of crows feet. As the reduction continues these lines will become more pronounced leading to wrinkles, dark lines, and sagging skin. For example, from the age of 21, the average woman’s skin decreases in thickness by 7% every ten years. Even a 3% loss of collagen can be very visible, making the skin appear thinner with less structural support
So we see the loss of collagen can cause the skin to lose elasticity with a reduction of the thickness of the epidermis and subsequently increase in the formation of wrinkles and sagging, which also makes the skin vulnerable and prone to damage.
Why collagen Is Reduced
Unfortunately, and surprisingly, collagen begins to be produced less and less from the early twenties, so making the effort to preserve or stimulate your skin to produce more collagen sooner rather than later is the way forward.
It’s not only natural aging that results in a reduction in collagen production but also environmental factors that affect the levels such as sun exposure and pollution that can break down collagen, and also tobacco, and an excessive intake of sugar!
In fact, by the time someone is 40 years old the loss of collagen is typically 1% per year.
How To Boost Or Regain Collagen
After reading many articles on collagen treatments I have put together a list of common treatment courtesy of everydayhealth.com.
1. Add Retinoids, the Gold-Standard Topical, to Your Routine
Retinoid/retinol are vitamin A derivatives that upregulate genes involved in collagen production.
“Research shows an improvement in facial wrinkles after applying retinol for 12 weeks,” says Chwalek, referring to a study published in March 2016 in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.
2. Try Bakuchiol if Retinoids Are Too Harsh
Bakuchiol is a natural alternative to a retinol/retinoid, and is thought to similarly stimulate skin cell turnover to rev collagen production with less of a risk of irritation, according to a study published in June 2018 in the British Journal of Dermatology. “This may be particularly good for people with sensitive skin,” Dr. Garshick says.
3. Protect Collagen With Topical Vitamin C
Slather on a vitamin C serum in the morning. The vitamin is an antioxidant that protects the collagen in your skin against UV damage, says Chwalek. More than that, she says, it triggers collagen formation and stabilizes the collagen proteins in the skin.
4. Pack in Peptides
Peptides are a short chain of amino acids that serve as the building blocks of proteins, according to Paula’s Choice. Products with peptides, Garshick says, “have been shown to help promote collagen and elastin in the skin, improving firmness.” (Indeed, past research establishes this collagen-boosting effect!)
5. Slather on Sunscreen Every Morning
Sunscreen is vital for skin cancer prevention — but also for keeping skin young and springy. “UV exposure can lead to the breakdown of collagen, which can lead to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, so you’re never too young to start wearing sunscreen regularly,” says Garshick. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
6. Then Reapply Sunscreen Throughout the Day
Sunscreen lasts for two hours, says Garshick. “While making sunscreen a part of your daily routine is essential, it’s also important to reapply throughout the day, especially on days with extended sun exposure,” she says. Check the label on your product; reapplication recommendations vary, though the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends doing so every two hours.
7. And Don’t Forget Below Your Chin
In your collagen-preserving sunscreen routine, don’t forget your neck, chest, and the back of your hands, says Garshick: “These areas can see the effects of cumulative sun damage, as the skin in these areas is thinner and therefore more likely to show the effects of aging,” she says.
8. Consider Taking Collagen Supplements
There are various collagen supplements available, including powders that you can mix into coffee and smoothies. While more studies are needed, says Garshick, she points to a January 2019 study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology that notes that preliminary research shows that these supplements help increase skin elasticity, hydration, and the density of collagen within the skin.
9. Add Lean Protein to Your Plate
Eat a balanced diet that includes an adequate amount of protein. “High-protein foods contain amino acids that are critical for collagen synthesis,” says Garshick. Lean protein sources include fish, seafood, skinless chicken breast, and lean cuts of beef and pork.
10. Limit Your Added Sugar Intake
A diet rich in sugar promotes the formation of advanced glycation end products (aptly called AGEs) that break down collagen, says Chwalek. Limit sugar consumption by reading the back of food labels and looking at either the “added sugar” line in the nutrition label or reading the ingredient list.
11. Load Up on Produce
There are many benefits to filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, including preventing heart disease, stroke, and cancer, as Harvard University calls out. Add skin health to that list: “Eating a diet rich in antioxidants [via fruits and vegetables], can help to ward off free radical damage that degrades collagen,” says Chwalek.
12. Wear a Hat to Block the Sun’s Rays
A wide-brimmed hat will shield your face, scalp, and neck from damaging rays from the sun, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Choose a hat that has at least a 3-inch brim made with a tightly woven material.
13. Sport Shades to Protect Around Your Eyes
To discourage crow’s feet from forming, wear sunglasses. Wraparound shades stop UV rays from sneaking in around the sides. The good news is that even cheap sunglasses will protect against both UVA and UVB rays, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
14. Don’t Smoke — And Stop if You Do
Smoking cigarettes ages your skin in a variety of ways. “Smoking decreases blood flow and oxygen to the skin. It also creates toxic free radicals that damage collagen and elastin fibers, and sop up antioxidants in the skin,” says Chwalek. Ultimately, this speeds up wrinkle formation, and past research shows the habit ages your skin faster.
15. Consider a Chemical Peel
There are many options for in-office anti-aging procedures, including a chemical peel. These use hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid) to boost skin cell turnover, which in turn stimulates collagen production, says Garshick. Patients “see immediate benefits from chemical peels, as they can help with tone, texture, and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she says.
16. Ask Your Dermatologist About Other In-Office Treatments
Ask your dermatologist if you are a good candidate for a resurfacing laser, radiofrequency treatment, micro-needling, IPL (intense pulsed light), Juvederm/Restylane, or Radiesse. “These treatments work by stimulating collagen production and can help treat the visible signs of aging. Patients notice their skin looks more even and smoother over time,” says Chwalek.
17. Focus on De-Stressing Strategies
Stress causes inflammation and weakens the body’s ability to repair itself, speeding up skin aging, prior research shows. Maintain a list of de-stressing strategies to have at the ready for when life gets overwhelming.
18. Keep Moving
Physical activity keeps your body, mind, and skin young. “Exercise is another important factor in slowing the aging process,” says Chwalek. What’s more, staying active is a bona fide way to bust stress, the Mayo Clinic notes.
19. Cut Back on Booze
Alcohol impairs the skin’s ability to produce collagen, as well as its natural antioxidant defense system (making it more vulnerable to damage), according to findings published in an August 2019 survey in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. People who drink eight or more drinks per week are more likely to have lines and wrinkles.
20. Get Your Beauty Rest
While more research in humans is needed, maintaining a regular sleep schedule may help with collagen renewal, research on mice in Nature Cell Biology in January 2020 suggests. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults log 7 to 9 hours of (literal) beauty sleep per night.
The Take Away
Phew, that was quite a list, I am exhausted just thinking about. The purpose of giving you such an extensive list is to give you the most comprehensive list possible so you can make an informed decision about what treatment might suit you. But I am not finished yet.
To make it a little easier for you I have written a review for a collagen product that I have some knowledge of and I invite you to read my kollagen intensiv review here.
If this was helpful or interesting please share with others who may benefit from this post. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to drop me a line.
Thanks for visiting. See you next time.
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