Updated: Aug 3, 2021
Collagen acts like a scaffold in the skin; it gives the skin structure and support. In fact, it makes up a huge 75% of it. It works in conjunction with elastin to keep the skin youthful - tight, hydrated and supple.
In our youth, collagen is in abundance. But, as we age, collagen and elastin naturally break down, giving way to the signs of ageing. Although collagen per se can’t be measured, it’s believed on average collagen breaks down by 1% per-annum from our twenties and can be further exacerbated by external factors.
When considering strengthening or bolstering collagen production, it is worth bearing in mind that collagen is a major protein that is synthesised, in the dermal layer of the skin, by fibroblasts. Therefore, any intervention needs to address the dermal layers of the skin.
When considering a topical product, it is important to consider the make-up of the skin. As , mentioned collagen production happens in the dermal layers, so if we want to effect any change we need ingredients to reach here.
However, collagen proteins are just too large to pass through the skin barrier, so adding them to creams and moisturisers is futile, they will just sit on the surface. Instead, encapsulated ingredients that support collagen synthesis are needed.
Ingredients that help stimulate this process are are peptides, vitamin c, hyaluronic acid and retinoids.
This is why it’s so valuable to invest in cosmeceuticals; not only do you get the highest quality and potent active ingredient, but you also get proven delivery systems.
There are also some incredibly powerful skin treatments within the advanced arena such as chemical peels, micro-needling and radio frequency to name but a few. These treatments stimulate collagen and elastin production, their success being primarily based on the depth at which they can reach.
Diet & Supplements
A diet rich in protein will be of benefit to collagen in the skin. Things such as fish, eggs, dairy, beans, soy, omega fatty acids and bone broth, but bear in mind vitamin c & zinc are a necessary in the collagen synthesis process.
Supplements are always useful if you are unable to gain sufficient nutrients through your diet. However, that said, supplements are only successful if they have high bio-availability; meaning the extent to which they are absorbed .
As with topical intervention, collagen proteins are too large to be absorbed through the stomach lining and into the bloodstream. They therefore, need to be broken down into hydrolysed collagen. To give you a comparison collagen protein is approximately 30,000 daltons in molecular weight, as opposed to hydolysed collagen which is between 2000-3000 daltons.
Basically, if supplements can't get where they need to be, there is little point taking them, as they'll just wash through and out of your body.
Marine collagen is believed to be superior to Bovine Collagen for the skin, but if the thought of animal-based supplements has you running for the hills, you can find a vegan option which utilise yeast and bacteria!
The most important thing to remember is that ageing is a natural process and is ongoing. We can’t stop time! We can however slow it down and bolster the skin to minimise the visible signs of ageing. The earlier we start preventative methods, the better. The right lifestyle choices will always prove beneficial, so minimising things such as sugar, pollution, smoking, sun exposure, alcohol and caffeine should also be considered.