Of late, collagen has been featuring heavily as a buzzword in the beauty anti-ageing industry. Collagen supplement. Collagen boosting cosmetic procedures. Collagen infused products. And we know it can all get a little confusing and you might be inclined to dismiss it as just another passing fad.
But here’s all you need to know about why collagen is a critical component in your skincare routine.
What is Collagen?
It is a long, fibrous structural protein that gives skin strength and elasticity and is also essential for building muscle, cell repair, and contributes to skeletal, joint, tendon, organ, and dental health. The most abundant protein in the human body, collagen basically acts as a glue that keeps cells and tissues together to support the various cellular structures in the body. Whenever the body encounters damage it triggers fresh collagen production within cells to help repair or heal the affected area.
Beauty Benefits of Collagen
- SKIN ELASTICITY & STRENGTH – Collagen proteins are found in the middle layer of skin called dermis, where they link together to promote the growth of new cells, to replace dead skin cells and encourage healthy cell turnover. This is super essential for plump, healthy looking skin. Higher collagen levels lead to a rejuvenated appearance and the absence of fine lines and wrinkles.
HAIR HEALTH – Higher collagen levels are also linked to stronger hair, delayed greying, and increased hair growth.
We’re running out of collagen!
Sadly, collagen is not in endless supply. There are many factors that affect its production.
- AGE - Your body makes fresh collagen and replaces old collagen repeatedly. Over time, the body’s ability to make the same quantity and quality of collagen decreases. The decline starts in your 20s and by 40 there is almost no new collagen being produced.
- ENVIRONMENTAL STRESSORS – Exposure to pollution and UV Rays damage collagen molecules which triggers more frequent production and therefore faster decline.
- LIFESTYLE – Smoking causes oxidative damage to skin which limits collagen production. Lack of exercise also reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to skin cells, slowing cell turnover.
- POOR DIET – A diet high in sugar creates AGEs (Advanced Glycolic End Products) which are known to destroy collagen molecules. A diet low in Vitamin C also leads to collagen degradation.
HORMONES – Peak fertility is linked to peak collagen production so there is a dramatic reduction during the onset of menopause.
How to ‘level up’ Collagen
- COLLAGEN BOOSTING DIET – Foods rich in nutrients like Vitamin C, Vitamin A, copper, and foods that are a source of amino acids enormously aid in collagen production.
- COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS – There are plenty of capsules, powders, and liquid shots available and while these can help improve collagen production when consumed over a period, like any food they are broken down in the gut so there is no saying to what extent it is useful. There are many supplements which use collagen derived from animal and marine sources so if you are vegetarian or vegan look carefully at the ingredient list. Always choose a high-quality product from a trusted brand.
- COLLAGEN INFUSED PRODUCTS – Anti-ageing skin serums, creams and lotions don’t significantly boost collagen production because collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin where collagen is needed to maintain skin’s structural integrity.
- SUNSCREEN – Protection from harmful UV rays helps prevent skin damage which ensures healthy collagen levels.
- COSMETIC PROCEDURES & SERVICES – There are a host of cosmetic procedures that make use of fillers, lasers, light therapy, or microneedles to either boost production of collagen or introduce it into the body. One such procedure is Collagen Induction Therapy. Dr Uktra Namshum, Cosmetic Dermatologist and Director, Hana Aesthetics, says, “Collagen Induction Therapy uses microneedling to create microscopic puncture wounds on the skin causing a ‘false injury’. This forces the body to start healing itself with the production of more collagen and elastin.” Going down the cosmetic procedure path should always be in consultation with a doctor and conducted in a reputable clinic so that you are aware of potential risks and post-procedure management.
- COLLAGEN BOOSTING PRODUCTS – Products that are rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C or peptides are more effective in penetrating the deeper layers of the skin and kick-starting production of collagen. Watch out for products with harmful chemical ingredients as these may cause further damage to skin.
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