Ahh collagen!! That elusive protein that we wish we had in abundance, so that we remain young, perky skinned and wrinkle free! But is it really that elusive? In this article we are going to look at how to boost collagen in the skin.
By using simple facial massage techniques, specific skincare products, plus looking at our diet and adding a supplement, we can certainly stimulate the production of collagen in the skin!
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The Science Bit – what is collagen?
Collagen is a protein found in the dermis layer of the skin. It is made up of small fibres that sit together under the skins surface to make the skin plump and firm. Think of it as the scaffolding that is holding the skin up – without it, our skin will fall, loose firmness, and the lines and wrinkles appear more apparent and/or deeper.
Lines, wrinkles and looser skin appear as the collagen production in the skin gets less due to age. The firmness in the skin will go. The lack of oestrogen during menopause accelerates the depletion of collagen. Oestrogen supports the production of collagen, so without it, production is obviously less.
Our skin is made up of 2 main layers – the epidermis on the top and the dermis underneath. When our collagen is abundant in the skin, the 2 layers should connect together, however as the collagen gets less, the connection is lost and the epidermis slides over the top of the dermis, with a very lose connection – think of it as a rug on a wooden floor – it never seems to stay in the same place for long. This lose of connection causes the skin to sag and the wrinkles appear.
Elastin is also a protein found in the skin, alongside the collagen fibres. Elastin gives our skin elasticity. It has the outstanding characteristic of being able to snap back into place and keep its original shape. Boosting collagen is no good unless you are boosting elastin as well, as they work together to fill in the gaps and keep the skin in place at the same time. Boost both of these proteins and you have more chance at a more youthful appearance and stronger skin.
Skin cells that produce collagen
Fibroblasts are the particular cell that produce and boost collagen. We want these cells to be healthy, well-nourished and ready to divide, so that they continue to produce collagen. Unfortunately, in adults they rarely divide unless stimulated to do so by a wound healing process or inflammatory response – ie, tissue damage.
When there is a wound on or just below the skins surface, these fibroblasts rush to this point, start dividing to heal the wound and therefore collagen is produced. Without the tissue damage the fibroblasts become lazy and don’t bother to produce much collagen as we get older.
So, where does this leave us? We know what needs to happen. But is it possible to put this into action?
The treatments that boost collagen
To get the fibroblasts to start multiplying again, we need tissue damage – some sort of wound to the skin. This is where treatments such as micro-needling come in to play. They actually pierce the skin, to cause bleeding, thus instigating an inflammatory response, and the rush of fibroblasts.
However, this invasive treatment, is painful, causes the skin to look red and sore for several days, is expensive and may take several treatments for the fibroblasts to work and see visible results. It’s certainly not an option for everyone.
Do it yourself!
A much safer, and easier way to mimic an inflammatory response, is to use vigorous movements on our skin, and to literally slap yourself! It sounds strange, but this will not only increase the blood circulation to our skin, which will help feed all our skin cells, but it may have the effect of calling the fibroblasts to the area as it thinks an injury is occurring, and therefore will boost the production of collagen in the skin.
I do this (most) evenings, when I’m applying either my retinol product or a face oil. And I also use more stimulating and vigorous facial massage techniques in my facials, for my more mature and menopausal clients.
See my Instagram clip on simple ‘slapping’ and vigorous facial massage techniques to use! It is simply vigorous and repeated tapping to the skin and bouncy lifting movements with the fingers.
The products that boost collagen
Retinol is the only proven ingredient that stimulates the type of collagen needed to re-connect the 2 layers of the skin together. So this is a must as we travel through menopause. Retinol encourages cell turnover, so the cells travelling to the surface of the skin are fresher, smoother and brighter – giving more of a glow to the skins surface.
Used over time the retinol also strengthens the cells and slows down the depletion of collagen. However, if you are new to using retinol, take care. Your skin must be introduced slowly to retinol. And you must use an SPF during the day.
Check out this expert guide to retinol here
It’s worth noting that while Retinol is an essential product to use, it’s not an overnight solution. With continued use, you should see results, but its worth thinking of it in the long term. Even though your skin has aged right now, if you start using a retinol now, you are protecting and enhancing your skin for the next 10-20 years and beyond.
The Ordinary Retinol in Squalene
Vitamin C is another key ingredient to look for. This vitamin not only has great brightening properties for the skin but helps in making the collagen in the skin last longer. Vitamin C is known as an antioxidant, which are ingredients that help keep the skin cells more healthy looking and ward off irritants, pollutants and other nasty outside elements, that can invade our skin.
or their Vitamin C + Brighten Booster.
Hydration is also key! If the skin is dehydrated, then the collagen and elastin break down further. Drink loads of water – and I mean loads – you cannot get enough! In addition to this, use a hyaluronic acid product. Our body makes hyaluronic acid and is essential for keeping our skin hydrated, thanks to its ability to bind and retain water molecules.
Using a hyaluronic acid and drinking water go hand in hand – the product will work much better if there is more water in the body; the water then migrates to the skins surface to join the product you have just applied.
Read more on the benefits, uses and how to make HYALURONIC ACID work better for you here.
The Diet – that boosts collagen during menopause
Collagen and elastin are both proteins. Proteins are known as the building blocks of the body, and are needed for growth and repair of the bodies tissues. Our bodies breakdown the same amount of protein that it uses to build and repair tissues. So the fact that we are living, breathing, moving around, thinking etc, uses up the proteins in the body. Our body has the ability to make more, but often our body’s can’t keep up. This may happen during times of illness, pregnancy, aging and yes, menopause.
Collagen starts off as something called procollagen. Our body has the ability to make procollagen but needs the amino acids, glycine and proline to do so, and Vitamin C to enable it.
To maximise this process we can get these from our diet There are specific proteins that can help boost the production of collagen and elastin.
- Glycine -can be found in tofu, black beans, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pistachio and cashew nuts.
- Proline can be found in wheat germ, cabbage, seaweed, asparagus and watercress.
- Vitamin C is found in abundance in citrus fruits, red, yellow and orange peppers and strawberries
Try these recipes to incorporate some of these proteins easily in your diet.
This delicious soup from Serving Up Spice gives you a combination of peppers, and black beans. Try also adding kidney beans to add to the glycine content!
Get the recipe here.
Snack on pumpkin and sunflower seeds, or add these along with chia seeds to you cereal in the morning, for an an easy boost of glycine. Eating a couple of pieces of citrus fruits a day, will help boost the vitamin C.
Supplements to boost collagen
Collagen supplements are becoming increasingly popular, either in liquid or tablet form. This is a great way to boost the collagen production in the skin, and taken over time will have a strengthening effect on the cells of the skin, hair and nails.
I like Absolute Collagen. This is pure marine collagen that comes in handy liquid sachets, that you take daily. The taste is quite unique, but can be mixed with water, juice or even mixed in to yogurts. Absolute Collagen were the Best New supplement winners at the 2019 CEW Beauty Awards, with many ‘Absoluters’ including myself, noticing a reduction in fine lines, firmer skin and stronger nails and hair, so a supplement well worth adding to your routine.
Buy Absolute Collagen here.
So, you can see that there are plenty of ways to boost the collagen production in the skin. We just need to make sure that we implement each element of these to maximise the benefits.
And remember, unless you opt for surgery or invasive treatments, nothing is going to the lift your skin, or reduce your wrinkles overnight. You need to think about all of these methods as an investment in your skin. All skins are different, and some will react quicker than others, but don’t loose heart. Whether its a retinol product, or a change in diet you choose, these ingredients are there to boost collagen, so somewhere along the way it will happen.
And ladies, if you have daughters – give them all this information from a young age! From the age of 25 they should be implementing these methods to prevent premature ageing later on…..Oh if only we could turn back time and start again..! XX