If you’re searching for the best ways to prevent premature wrinkles and sagging skin, collagen could be the answer.
Because this protein is naturally found in the tissues which maintain your skin’s structure, many industries have studied its properties – and whether it could make your body’s “canvas” beautiful and healthy for years to come. Are you interested in learning how your skin could benefit from collagen? This guide will help you find out!
- Collagen, in conjunction with other components like elastin and hyaluronic acid, functions as a “mesh” which holds skin together and gives it elasticity. Plus, because it’s the protein which gives skin thickness and structure, it prevents wrinkling.
- Collagen production starts to naturally decline around age 25. It can be further worsened by factors like sun exposure and cigarette smoking.
- Skincare is a holistic process. It should include an overall healthy lifestyle, but can be supported by collagen supplements if approved by your regular doctor.
What You Need to Know About Collagen and Skincare
Skin is the largest organ in the human body. It protects us from the outside world, allowing us to interact with it safely. As such, collagen (a protein with massive importance for your skin) can be involved in these functions:
|Effect on Skin||Format||Dosage||Time to Take Effect|
|Wrinkle prevention||Oral supplements||2.5 to 5 grams||12 weeks|
|Tightening skin / preventing sagging||Oral supplements||2.5 to 5 grams||12 weeks|
|Reducing sun damage||Oral supplements||Not established||10 weeks|
|Hydrating skin||Oral supplements; can also be administered percutaneously||1 gram||12 weeks|
Ways Collagen Benefits Your Skin
Up to 80% of your skin consists of collagen. In other words, it’s massively important for your skin’s health and beauty over time (1).
However, it can’t do it alone! Thanks to the combined effects of hyaluronic acid and elastin, it’s able to keep skin hydrated and elastic. (2, 3).
The potential skincare benefits of collagen products have been widely discussed. Potential benefits discovered include (4):
- Wrinkle prevention: Collagen supplements could shrink existing wrinkles and prevent future wrinkles’ appearance (5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). This may be the result of skin’s increased thickness, hydration, and ability to repair itself.
- Reducing sagging: By forming the “mesh” which keeps skin firm and elastic, collagen is able to keep skin taut. As such, supplements could have an important role in preventing loose or sagging skin.
- Reducing sun damage: The influence of ultraviolet rays can hinder your skin’s collagen production. Experiments and research found that applying collagen to skin cells made them start to produce their own new collagen. This could prevent and even repair sun damage (11, 12).
- Hydrating skin: Collagen, combined with hyaluronic acid, has the ability to retain water molecules in the skin, improving its hydration. Some studies suggest that collagen supplements could enhance that effect (7, 13, 14).
Remember to use collagen supplements responsibly and with your doctor’s approval. In the case of percutaneous collagen treatments (injections), they should only ever be given by qualified professionals.
Factors Which Can Block Collagen Production
Though collagen tries its hardest to maintain your skin’s integrity against the odds, it’s susceptible to internal and external factors which lessen the skin’s ability to produce it or damage it directly. These are the most important of those factors:
- Age: Collagen production gradually begins to decrease around age 25. After age 40, your body may no longer produce enough collagen to stop wrinkles (15).
- Hormones: With the onset of menopause, the female hormones which maintain collagen production (oestrogen and progesterone) dwindle. This accelerates wrinkling (16).
- Ultraviolet rays: Your skin’s aging is very influenced by sun exposure. UV rays have the ability to block collagen production, making you prone to wrinkles prematurely (17, 18).
- Smoking: Cigarettes and tobacco severely affect collagen production, accelerating skin aging. It also reduces skin’s ability to heal cuts and damage (19, 20).
Healthy Habits to Keep Your Skin Radiant
There are many different ways to help your body produce more collagen, preventing premature skin damage. These are the most crucial healthy habits to include in your everyday life:
- Healthy eating: When you consume vitamins and minerals which are fundamental for collagen production, you’re naturally increasing your body’s reserves of this important protein.
- Physical activity: Regular physical activity, on top of its hundreds of other benefits for overall health, can increase blood flow to your skin. This improves skin’s oxygenation and nutrition.
- Sunscreen: Using sunscreen on a daily basis is a step in the right direction to prevent premature aging and skin cancer (melanoma) (21). This practice should begin in childhood, since solar damage accumulates in your skin cells over time.
- Ask your doctor: Skincare can become a complicated task, especially if you find some habits – like smoking or unhealthy eating – hard to avoid. We know that you can’t change everything overnight, but your doctor could help you develop the necessary techniques to regain control over your own health.
Choose the Best Collagen Skincare Products
Collagen skincare products can come in many forms and formats. It’s quite important that you learn to choose between them and know how to recognise a product which doesn’t suit your needs.
To begin understanding collagen supplements, you should first know which format suits you best:
|Pills and capsules||Easy to measure dosage
Able to combine with other ingredients
|May be difficult to swallow
Many have low concentrations of collagen
|Drinkable liquid||Higher collagen doses
Easy to take
May contain sugar
|Powder||Can be mixed with juice and beverages
Easy to take
|May taste unpleasant
More difficult to measure dosage
|Cream||More immediate hydrating effects
Able to combine with other ingredients good for your skin
|Collagen in topical creams doesn’t increase your skin cells’ collagen levels
Benefits come primarily from the other ingredients
May be expensive
Types of Collagen
The collagen in supplements is derived from three main animal sources: marine life, pigs, and cows. These three forms have their own upsides and downsides (22, 23, 24):
- Marine: Considered the best type of collagen for its high absorption and lower chance of allergic reactions (unless you’re allergic to fish or shellfish).
- Bovine (from cows) o porcine (from pigs): Is absorbed less than marine collagen, but may be more affordable or better suited for people with fish/shellfish allergies.
- Pure collagen: Collagen’s most “natural” form. This form is trickier to absorb due to the large size of the molecules. It’s the collagen you’ll find in edible gelatine.
- Hydrolysed collagen: In this form, collagen is divided into smaller molecules your body can absorb more easily.
- Liposomal collagen: This form combines hydrolysed collagen with a barrier known as a “liposome”. Liposomes protect the collagen and increase the body’s absorption of it.
Collagen and Dietary Restrictions
Collagen may be incompatible with certain diets or lifestyles, whether due to allergies, food sensitivities, or cultural and moral objections.
Vegan and Vegetarian Diets
Collagen is incompatible with vegan and vegetarian diets, since it’s manufactured from the bones, cartilage, and skin of fish or land animals.
However, if your diet is rich in nutrients and you take supplements with vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium, you can give your body the tools it needs to produce its own collagen (25).
Allergies and Food Sensitivities
If you’re allergic to any fish or shellfish, look for collagen supplements from porcine or bovine sources.
As far as other allergies and food sensitivities like lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, or nut allergies, your supplements should always indicate if those ingredients are present.
Remember to buy products from trustworthy sources and ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Collagen could be a step in the right direction to improve your skincare strategies. It helps skin stay healthy and youthful in a completely natural way.
Collagen supplements, however, will not be able to assist you if you don’t care for yourself and lead a healthy lifestyle. As such, try to combine a balanced lifestyle with your favourite supplements – and use sunscreen!
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