Hailed as the “fountain of youth,” collagen is making headlines as one of the most important elements of smooth and supple skin, and for a good reason.
Collagen — which is found in your dermis (the middle layer of the skin) — keeps cells strong and resilient. This means less sagging and more firmness.
As time goes by, the production of collagen naturally decreases. Collagen production declines with age and lifestyle factors, such as a poor diet, high-stress levels, and excessive UV exposure.
Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help preserve collagen and increase its production. But if following a healthy lifestyle isn’t enough, there are plenty of treatment options to stimulate collagen production.
Here at Nourishing Biologicals, we’ll discuss why collagen breaks down, ways to help prevent it, and how to stimulate collagen production in the skin.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the human body. Besides skin and scar tissue, it is found in the tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. The collagen structure is reminiscent of a rope with three chains that form a triple helix – this is what gives collagen its strength.
As collagen plays one of the biggest roles in determining your skin’s appearance, it provides the support needed to keep the skin smooth, firm, and resilient. In fact, collagen can also help reduce skin sagging, uneven skin texture, and dryness.
How Do Our Collagen Levels Decrease?
There are dozens of ways to deplete collagen levels over the years. Recognizing these factors can help you make changes in your life and preserve your existing collagen supplies.
Here are four factors with the greatest impact on collagen:
As you age, your collagen production is not high enough to keep up with how much is lost. Depending on genetics, collagen production can begin to decline when between 25 to 35 years of age.
Starting in the early 20s, your body’s natural collagen production begins to decline at about one percent per year. Over time, this can result in thinning skin, fine lines and wrinkles, and painful joints.
While we can’t exactly slow down the process of aging, we can ramp up our body’s production of collagen, which can replace a large portion of what is lost.
We’ve heard that smoking isn’t good for your appearance, but do we really know why?
Smoking decreases how much oxygen gets delivered to skin tissue – making skin cells more likely to become damaged. In return, damaged skin cells are less likely to produce collagen in ample amounts, leading to saggy, wrinkling skin.
Research shows that those who smoke have significantly more wrinkles, fine lines, and loss of elasticity than their siblings. In addition, smoking reduces their skin’s ability to heal, impairing the effectiveness of collagen-boosting treatments.
Redness and Swelling
Visible signs of redness and swelling can have an impact on skin aging – a process called “inflammaging.” Constantly turning on the body’s immune response can break down the skin’s structural components, like collagen and elastin, while interfering with the healing of damaged skin cells.
Inflammatory diets are one of the main culprits of inflammaging. For example, eating too much sugar, simple carbohydrates, processed meats, and alcohol can induce swelling, leading to collagen breakdown.
Instead, eat a balanced diet that includes an adequate amount of protein. As collagen is the main structural protein in the skin, foods rich in protein contain amino acids that are essential for collagen production.
Excessive Sun Exposure
Exposing the skin to the sun for prolonged periods of time can lead to hyperpigmentation. When we spend too much time in the sun, our skin becomes dry and hyperpigmentation becomes more pronounced.
Sun exposure can also decrease collagen production. Studies show that UV light can destroy collagen in the skin. This takes place through various mechanisms, including oxidative stress, most of which happens at the DNA level.
What Are the Best Ways To Stimulate Collagen Production?
Unfortunately, we can’t always control the factors that lead to collagen loss. However, there are ways we can help stimulate collagen production.
Add Collagen Peptides to Your Skincare Routine
As one of the latest buzzwords in the beauty industry, peptides are the building blocks of collagen and elastin fibers that are found in the skin. While saggy skin is a natural part of aging, the good news is that you can help improve loose skin with peptides.
If you’re on the lookout for a skincare line with collagen peptides, our Miracular Collection is formulated with ingredients to enhance the skin’s ability to self-renew and penetrates the dermis to target collagen and elastin, new skin cells, and visibly reduce the signs of aging.
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that penetrates deep into the skin and creates changes at the DNA level. Retinol can promote skin cell turnover, preserve collagen bonds, and stimulate collagen production.
Retinol is considered the golden standard in ramping up skin collagen production and is recommended for patients in their early 20s to help slow down the signs of aging.
Studies show that retinol for as little as three months can significantly reduce the appearance of wrinkles — a sure sign of increased collagen production for those who already show signs of aging.
Try a Retinol Alternative
Some people might experience significant irritation from using retinol. As an alternative, bakuchiol is a plant-based vitamin A derivative. Bakuchiol creates changes in cellular DNA that boost collagen production. However, bakuchiol does not make the skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays. It may even protect the skin from sun damage.
Apply Topical Antioxidants
Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium, contain ingredients that neutralize free radicals. — which are harmful molecules that cause DNA damage in the skin. Antioxidants can prevent collagen breakdown from factors like UV exposure and environmental pollution with proper use. In fact, some antioxidants, like vitamin C, can even increase collagen formation in the skin.
Take Collagen Supplements
What you eat makes a difference in your body’s collagen production. Studies show that supplementing your body with hydrolyzed collagen can help boost collagen production and lead to smoother, firmer, and more resilient skin.
Eat More Vitamin C
To protect your body from collagen-depleting free radicals, eating a diet rich in antioxidants is essential. Plants — such as dark leafy greens and citrus fruits — can provide you with plenty of antioxidants to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays, pollution, and other toxins you may come in contact with.
The importance of a healthy diet can’t be understated when it comes to skin health and appearance.
Sugar plays a vital role in your overall health and your skin’s firmness and elasticity. When you digest sugar, it binds to collagen protein through a process known as glycation. This leads to an increased breakdown of collagen.
To slow down this process, it’s best to cut out sources of refined sugar. In addition to sweets, this includes white bread, white pasta, and low-fat dairy products.
Get Your Beauty Rest
While you rest, your skin is resting too – recharging and recuperating from a day’s worth of activity. During deep sleep, your blood flow increases, allows the organ to rebuild its collagen, and repairs damage from harsh UV exposure. This helps your body produce collagen to keep skin healthy, youthful, and glowing.
Red Light Therapy
This therapy is a specific form of LED light technology, which uses red light to reach the deeper levels of the skin. This stimulates collagen production and helps diminish fine lines and wrinkles.
Although these procedures are non-invasive, they can effectively boost collagen production. In fact, studies show that one red light therapy session is enough to produce noticeable results in collagen growth.
Collagen is one of the defining factors in achieving firm, plump skin. Genetics, aging, and various lifestyle factors play a role in collagen loss. Fortunately, there are many ways to stimulate collagen production, ranging from healthy lifestyle behaviors to a quality skincare routine.
Discover skincare products from Nourishing Biologicals that have been clinically proven to support skin health and appearance — for your most radiant self.
A Controlled Trial to Determine the Efficacy of Red and Near-Infrared Light Treatment in Patient Satisfaction, Reduction of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Skin Roughness, and Intradermal Collagen Density Increase | PMC