Of the four major skin-saboteurs that make your complexion look older (loss of ability to shed dead skin, loss of moisture, loss of oil and loss of collagen) “loss of collagen” may be the most significant.
Collagen makes a huge difference in your skin’s tone and texture. A naturally - produced protein, collagen makes up more than 70% of your skin’s structure, acting like both bricks and mortar to keep your skin firm, dense and resilient. In other words: looking young and healthy!
The “inside story” on collagen
When you’re young, collagen renews itself constantly so your skin always looks plump and smooth. But around age 30, your body’s own the “anti - collagen triple threat” kicks in:
1) Your natural collagen production slows as estrogen levels start to drop.
2) The quality of collagen your body produces diminishes.
3) Enzymes your body produces to clear away old, used collagen mistakenly start attacking new, high-quality collagen.
More than an “age old” problem
The breakdown of your skin’s collagen isn’t just due to age, hormones and your particular DNA profile. Environmental pollutants and unhealthy habits (like smoking, poor nutrition, inadequate skin care) play a big part: all can trigger free radicals that hurt skin cells’ ability to create healthy collagen.
The good news: all (your collagen) is not lost!
Just as poor lifestyle choices can speed up collagen loss, good choices can slow it down. You CAN take proactive measures to protect existing collagen and to boost new growth by adapting better habits, like these key five:
1. No ifs, ands, or buts: quit smoking
As if all the health warnings weren’t enough! There’s irrefutable proof that smoking speeds skin ageing by creating enzymes that damage collagen. Long - term smokers’ skin is characterized as “drooping, wrinkled, dry and coarse with uneven coloring and broken blood vessels”. According to Dermnet New Zealand “Smokers can appear gaunt and develop an orange or grey complexion.” Nuf said.
2. Shun the sun
Multiple papers from the US National Library of Medicine/National Institute of Medicine concur that UV exposure, especially consistent and long - term, degrades and remodels collagen. Most dermatologists agree that free radicals triggered by sun exposure are the number one cause of skin ageing... much more so that natural biological processes. It’s simple: more sunscreen + less sun = younger skin.
3. Please pass the plant proteins
The hormone estrogen helps women produce high quality collagen. Foods rich in phytoestrogens (nuts, soy, beans) help supplement this collagen- optimizing hormone, which is especially important for post-menopausal women, who have lowered estrogen levels.
4. Ix-nay on the ugar-shay
According to Dr. Joe Cincotta, PhD, and renowned beauty product innovator, there’s a process within everyone’s body called glycation, where sugar in the bloodstream attaches to proteins, forming harmful new molecules called AGEs (Advanced Glycation End-products). AGEs react with and damage other proteins, including collagen. AGEs also deactivate your body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, leaving your skin unarmed against free radicals that also attack collagen. Best advice: skip the sweets – unless they grown on trees.
5. Load up on antioxidants – inside and out!
Many dermatologists believe antioxidants help reduce the risk of environmental damage on your skin by seeking and disarming free radicals (unstable molecules that damage cell DNA and collagen production.)
Vitamin C is an antioxidant superstar: find it in citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit). Power antioxidant lutein is found in green leafy veggies like spinach, broccoli and kale. Green tea is a super free radical scavenger, sipped hot or cold.
Use a collagen-boosting skin cream with high levels of anti-oxidants plus collagen supporting ingredients
It’s never too late... and its never too early... to fuel your skin’s collagen levels. There’s scant proof that some types of “collagen” in beauty creams actually penetrate skin and have positive impact. However, high levels of topically applied antioxidants, like pine tree - derived Pycnogenol®, have been clinically proven to neutralize free radicals plus bind to and reinforce collagen. Other key ingredients to look for: Padina pavonica brown algae, known to promote healthy collagen renewal and Davilla Rugosa leaf extract, known to protect newly created collagen.