The C-word is huge! Everyone who is even vaguely interested in skincare is talking about it. I’m referring to collagen, of course. There’s a plethora of products on chemists’ shelves, in health food stores and supermarkets, all claiming to boost collagen production...Hell, it’s even made its way into our face creams and shampoos! But what exactly is collagen, why is it so important for our skin, and how can we really boost collagen production in our bodies?
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein found in the human body. But it’s not just any old protein - it’s the most abundant protein in the body (making up around 30%), and there are lots of types of it too, which can be found in the skin, bones, connective tissues, joints - pretty much everywhere. It’s often referred to as the glue or the scaffolding that holds everything together structurally. It’s important for many different reasons, but in this post, I’ll stick to why collagen is so essential for our skin.
So, what exactly makes collagen so great? Well, this protein is responsible for healthy-looking skin that is soft and able to snap back to shape. It keeps us looking smooth, supple and youthful. Imagine a nice juicy plum. It’s full, it’s firm and it has no lines - very much like a youthful looking face that has tons of collagen.
What happens to collagen as we age?
While collagen sounds incredible (and it really is - trust me), it’s not all gorgeous sunsets and picturesque views. As we age, our once abundant source of collagen starts to diminish. Which means our beautifully young-looking, soft skin starts to sag, thin and lose tone, and those dreaded wrinkles start to appear. Ugh!
In fact, when we reach our 20s, our collagen production starts to dwindle by 1% each year - and by the time we get to 50, we’ve lost 30% of our body’s collagen. So, if you’re starting to see sagging in your skin, this is the reason. It simply means that the collagen is breaking down and isn’t as structurally sound as it used to be. That plum I mentioned earlier - yeah, that’s more like a prune at this point.
If you’re reading this with your mouth agape in shock (as I did pretty much the whole time I was writing this), don’t worry. A). You’re not alone, and B). There are things you can do to boost collagen production to get rejuvenated-looking skin.
Can I apply collagen topically?
One of the biggest questions relating to collagen is whether it can be applied topically to rejuvenate skin, through a cream or serum. After all, there are loads of lotions and potions which promote collagen as the main star of the show, all promising to give us amazingly young-looking skin. But that’s not technically true. The collagen molecule is actually too big to be absorbed into the skin. So, while we might be applying it as directed on the packaging, it won’t give the desired effect that so many companies claim.
So, how can I boost collagen?
While collagen can’t be absorbed through the skin using a cream or serum, there are various ways we can boost it.
Smoking, too much UV exposure and high sugar consumption all lead to faster collagen reduction, which can leave us looking more wrinkled much earlier. So cutting them out is obviously a great step towards keeping your skin looking great.
There are also foods that help increase production of the protein, as well as supplements and some pretty incredible treatments...
What types of food contain collagen?
A great place to start on your mission to increased collagen production is by selecting the right foods. A diet rich in vitamins C and E is a great place to start. So, think meat, eggs, fish, seeds, nuts and grains, avocado, cabbage, broccoli and peppers.
Eating the right foods is beneficial to any healthy diet and is always recommended. But, of course, it takes time to see the effects - so don’t expect them to happen overnight.
What aesthetic treatments help boost collagen?
So, what if you want to achieve a collagen boost much more quickly - and in the places we most want to see results? Years ago, we simply had to accept that our skin was ageing, and so too were we, but nowadays, there are so many non-surgical treatments out there that are accessible and involve little to no downtime. Here are just a few examples of the non-surgical treatments that cause controlled trauma to the skin which helps boost collagen to give us rejuvenated skin...
Ablative laser skin therapy
Non-ablative laser skin therapy
So, it’s not all bad when it comes to getting older. Yes, sure, the bit about collagen production decreasing is a bit rubbish, but at least there are plenty of options to help us regain the youthful look we’re all after. If you want to be a plum, be a plum.