Collagen is suddenly back on the agenda of the beauty industry. More and more collagen-stimulating products are being added. From potions, pills to skin care. How does collagen stimulation work and what is the best method for this? Cosmetic dermatologist Francis Wu also dives in.
Collagen is a body’s own protein that is part of the connective tissue, for example in the bones, blood vessels and in your skin. Collagen is found in the skin, but also in hair, nails, cartilage, blood vessels and bones.
There are different collagen forms, up to 30 different types. 90% of the collagen in the human body is type 1. This type 1 is also present in the middle layer of skin, known as the dermis. It gives structure and firmness to your skin.
Collagen is produced by fibroblasts and broken down by enzymes: the matrix metalloproteinases (MMP). With a good balance between collagen production and breakdown, the extracellular matrix ensures beautiful, firm skin.
From the age of 30, collagen naturally decreases by 1% per year. When more collagen is broken down, it is produced, for example due to too much sun, smoking, poor diet, excessive alcohol (more than 8 glasses a week), the firmness decreases and wrinkles and lines arise.
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How can you stimulate collagen production in the skin?
There are various options to slow down collagen breakdown and stimulate collagen production: through skin care, with supplements, nutrition, and with the help of direct injections of collagen into the second layer of the skin.
Trending: the collagen cream
Topically, smearing with collagen creams, is trending right now. The problem is that the molecular size of the collagen used (expressed in Dalton, molecular mass expressed in g/mol) is too large to penetrate the skin. Whether it works remains to be seen. Studies has shown that it does not. However, the added collagen can contribute to hydration of the skin.
Active ingredients in skin care products with which you can stimulate your skin’s own collagen are vitamins A and C and with peptides.
Why vitamin C is so important
You get vitamin C through food, and extra through supplements. You can also put it on the skin, through your skin care. It is an important and essential cofactor to form collagen. Vitamin C from food together with the amino acids lysine and proline from your diet, collagen is formed in the body.
We are also seeing more and more supplements with collagen. Collagen from pills or drinks is broken down in the stomach and intestines and converted into small amino acid building blocks. Through the bloodstream it ends up in the skin, among other things, and from there it is converted into collagen. The amino acid building blocks not only go to your skin, but also to the nails, hair, bones.
Collagen supplements seem to do something about the feeling of hydration and improve skin texture.
What is the difference between spreading collagen and drinking/taking it?
Collagen creams therefore do not work well because the molecules are too large to penetrate the skin. There are collagen-containing creams with a lower molecular weight, the question is whether the collagen behaves skin-identically. And if collagen cream is absorbed into the dermis after application, is it then converted into skin’s own collagen? After all, that’s what you want.
Taking collagen seems to be going better. As mentioned, the collagen is broken down into small building blocks in the gastrointestinal tract. These are used by the fibroblasts to build your body’s own collagen. The collagen does end up everywhere in the body. There needs to be more research into the best kind of collagen, in what composition and dosage for use in pills and potions.
And collagen from your daily diet?
As mentioned, the amino acids proline and lysine play an important role in the production of collagen. Proline is biosynthesized in the body from another amino acid; glutamic acid.
Proline is found in foods such as soy, seaweed, cheese, milk and eggs. Lysine is an essential amino acid and must be obtained from food. Important sources of lysine are: milk, legumes, meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish) dairy products, legumes and wheat germ.
Lysine in particular is important for elastin and collagen production and the so-called cross-linking of collagen, which produces strong connective tissue. Meat is the main source of lysine. Vegans and vegetarians can become deficient in this. Lysine from grains is not enough.
Grandmother’s broth recipe (bone broth) with bones, cartilage, combined with collagen stimulating vegetables with a lot of vitamin C, such as red peppers, carrots, beets, leeks, spinach is the most natural way to keep your collagen in shape.
Which collagen source is best?
There are many scientific discussions about different collagen sources. For example, are collagen from beef bones, catfish (fish), scales from the Bandeng? It is not yet known which collagen works best.
And collagen injections, how does that work?
An injection of collagen from is injected directly into the dermis. It breaks down after 3-6 months. When mad cow disease broke out, collagen injections are almost no longer done. Hyaluronic Acid Injections are the most popular.
Other collagen-stimulating cosmetic treatments
There are more ways to boost collagen. Think of treatment of skin with red LED light, with microneedling, a laser treatment. Plasma rich platelet therapy (PRP) is also used for this and chemical peels – from medium to deep. All of these methods irritate the skin. The skin is damaged and the body responds with wound healing: the production of collagen (and elastin) – to close and heal the ‘wound’.
Do this too!
Help to reduce the breakdown of collagen. Protect your skin against UV radiation. UV-A radiation in particular. They penetrate deeper into the skin than UV-B rays and break down collagen. Don’t smoke and eat healthy.
Now that you’re here:
Niacinamide is an ingredient that the cosmetic industry can no longer do without and has been scientifically proven to be effective.
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