As we age, our skin, bones and joints need our full attention. Because, over the years, their essential component – collagen – is produced less and less by the body. It is therefore important to continue supporting the body. And even if you are young, you shouldn’t neglect collagen – the sooner you provide your body with enough, the more you will see the benefits.
With what we eat and how (and how much) we train, we influence a large part of our appearance. To make your skin look young, healthy and fresh, we address the question in this article, what really helps against wrinkles and what role collagen plays . We also delve into the reasons behind skin aging.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most common protein in the human body (about 30% of the total amount of proteins). What is collagen used for? As a structural protein, collagen provides the tensile strength of connective tissue and can be found everywhere, in the parts where elasticity and strength are important: in the skin, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones, skeletal muscles, blood vessels and even teeth.
What is collagen made of?
Collagen is made up of long individual protein chains, which in turn are made up of different amino acids . The main components of collagen are the amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline.
But how exactly does our body make collagen? Depending on the type and function, collagen is made up of different cells :
- Fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) and osteoblasts (bone tissue cells) mainly produce type I and III collagen.
- Chondrocytes (cartilage tissue cells) mainly form type II collagen.
With the synthesis of collagen, the various cells are aligned in over 1000 amino acids to form a long chain, the polypeptide chain, also called procollagen. If three of these amino acid chains wrap around each other, the characteristic triple helix is formed and one speaks of a unit of tropocollagen. If several tropocollagen units are close together, thin collagen fibrils are formed. With many units of tropocollagen thicker collagen fibers are created.
You can think of collagen fibers as a kind of dew made up of several individual fibers intertwined into a single, consistent bunch. The fibers of the skin and other tissues then join together to form a collagen structure that gives tension to the skin. The more collagen fibers support the skin, the more toned it is.
What Does Collagen Do to Your Body?
Being a structural protein, collagen allows the body and its many organs to maintain their unique shape and provide resistance in the event of injury. The collagen in the skin is no different. Think of it as a ‘scaffold’, which keeps everything firm, smooth and supple. Collagen works together with elastin to keep the skin strong and elastic.
This also makes it more resilient, it can immediately jump back into shape after a knock. As the collagen ‘scaffolds’ that hold the skin break down over time, the skin’s surface becomes uneven and begins to slacken. This is manifested in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, dryness and sagging.
When Does Collagen Decline?
When we are young, our bodies naturally produce enough collagen that makes our face look visibly smooth and healthy. As we age, the amount of collagen decreases significantly. After age 25, we lose collagen at the rate of one percent per year, with a faster decline after age 40.
Sun exposure and other lifestyle factors, such as a diet high in sugar, can cause collagen to break down even faster. In all honesty, restoring lost collagen won’t happen overnight. However, you can include important ingredients in your skin care routine and diet that help support the collagen in your skin to rebuild.
What to eat to Boost Collagen?
While you can also take supplements for an extra dose of collagen and there are more and more studies that confirm that they do have an impact, there is no conclusive evidence for this yet. However, you can help build collagen naturally by not smoking and drinking, and therefore by eating healthy. Here are some foods that promote collagen:
- Red pepper;
- bone broth;
- Citrus fruit;
- Dark leafy vegetables;
- Chicken and steak;
The Best Collagen Products
There is a whole range of collagen-rich products on the market, divided into two categories: moisturizers that work specifically on collagen (if possible) and supplements that you take orally. It is said to help replenish collagen, improving hydration and elasticity of the skin with fine lines and wrinkles.
Still, it’s hard for creams with pure collagen to really penetrate the skin where they can make a difference. That chain of huge braided molecules, that make up collagen, are simply too big to penetrate your epidermis. And certainly too large to end up in the dermis where a real difference can be made. It’s not harmful, it can certainly hydrate your skin and make it feel pleasant, but collagen creams on their own don’t do much for your skin.
To get around the problem with the large size of the molecule, most lotions, potions and pills with collagen as the main ingredient actually contain hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides. Essentially, hydrolyzed collagen is broken down into smaller chains of amino acids called peptides. These could cross the skin cells’ outer skin barrier and end up in the dermis, where they could provide the building blocks for fibroblasts to make new collagen.
You can find this in KOLLAGEN INTENSIVE by SkinCeption, which accelerates your body’s natural collagen production.
WHAT ARE THE BEST COLLAGEN-BOOSTING INGREDIENTS?
This is a good question, because instead of just collagen creams you can also use ingredients that support collagen. We have already touched on retinol for this. In addition, vitamin C is an antioxidant that is also celebrated for its collagen-supporting properties. This is because the body uses vitamin C during almost every step of the natural collagen building process.
In fact, a major reason we stop producing so much collagen naturally is due to a decline in our ability to make enough vitamin C. Applying active vitamin can give the body that extra dose it needs for working collagen production.
It is the lack of collagen in our bodies that makes our skin lose it’s youthful appearance and elasticity.
But do not despair!
There are many ways to boost your collagen levels and restore that young and healthy skin. You can achive great results by simply paying attention to your diet, or finding a product that is good and works for your skin.
Hope I was able to answer your questions about collagen, and if I managed to help someone – I’m happy!