When it comes to youthful-looking skin, two words come up time and time again. No, not Jennifer and Aniston, we’re talking about collagen and elastin.
The absolute foundation of healthy, ageless skin, collagen and elastin are proteins made up of amino acids and found in abundance within the body. Want to know more? Then you’ve come to the right place.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant, naturally-occurring protein in our bones, skin, muscles and tendons. It’s a kind of fibrous protein and makes up about one-third of all protein in the human body.
Collagen’s modus operandi is to basically ‘cement’ everything together by connecting and supporting tissue. More than 80 percent of the skin is composed of collagen, where it’s found in the extracellular matrix to help form a fibrous network of cells called fibroblasts. This is where cellular activity such as replacement and restoration occurs.
The sad news is – and yes, you know what’s coming next – collagen content decreases with age. In fact, after the age of around 20, we start to lose about 1 percent of it every year. Exposure to the likes of smoking, UV radiation and environmental pollution also causes collagen production to decline. This is why older skin often lacks the strength, firmness and elasticity of younger, less exposed skin.
What Is Elastin?
Another amino-acid fuelled protein found in both the skin and tissues of the body, elastin gives cells their structure. In the skin, it’s mostly found in the dermis where it allows connective tissues to be able to stretch, contract and resume shape. The sun is a devil for damaging elastin fibers and you know what that means? Yes, a one-way ticket to saggy skin city.
How To Boost Your Levels Of Collagen AND Elastin
Together, collagen and elastin keep the skin firm, supple and youthful-looking. But the more we lose, the more fine lines, wrinkles and sagging appear. So, what’s a girl (or guy) to do to help boost collagen and elastin as time cruelly steals them away? Thankfully there are many skincare tricks for increasing your levels…
1 Never skip your SPF
The sun is a killer when it comes to collagen and elastin. Literally. Both UVA and UVB rays weaken collagen and elastin, causing them to break down at a higher rate than normal, so limit your exposure as much as possible. And if you do spend a long time outside, ensure your wear a medical-grade, broad-spectrum sunscreen every day of the year (yes, even when it’s cloudy). We love Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36.
2 Think about a collagen-boosting filler
Did you know, certain fillers are veritable masters at boosting collagen production? Take Sculptra Aesthetic, for example. A truly unique filler, Sculptra doesn’t simply fill wrinkles or increase volume in the skin but it contains a biocompatible synthetic substance called poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) that has the ability to stimulate collagen growth. Ask your aesthetician whether adding Sculptra to your treatment plan could work for you.
3 Incorporate an antioxidant into your treatment plan
Antioxidants are up there with moisturizer and sunscreen in our list of skincare must-haves. During the day, antioxidants not only fight collagen-damaging free radicals, but some can even up the efficacy of your sunscreen to help prevent sun damage and photoaging. Vitamin C is one of the most tried, tested and trusted of all antioxidants in skincare, so add a medical-grade Vit C treatment into your skincare plan and you will be laughing all the way to the ‘I have beautiful skin’ bank. Try the award-winning, derm approved SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic.
4 Say no to sugar
Along with smoking and the sun, sugar is collagen’s worst enemy. When you eat or drink anything that’s either loaded with sugar, or has a high glycemic index (GI) that swiftly converts into sugar, your body breaks it down into carbohydrates and glucose. These raise your insulin levels which consequently causes a burst of inflammation that stiffens and breaks down all that delicious collagen and elastin in a process called glycation. Bad news for skin. The solution? Ditch refined sugar from your coffee, avoid that 11 o’clock chocolate and soda break and swap high GI foods like white bread, white rice and white pasta for their brown, lower GI cousins. Complex carbs like vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains are also good. And yes, alcohol is bad news. Man, when is it ever good news for the skin?
5 Remember, sleep is the best medicine
Poor, or little sleep plays havoc with your skin because when your body is resting, the skin has a chance to replenish itself. At night, the body and skin goes into full-on restoration mode, recharging neurons, regenerating new skin cells and repairing damage from daily environmental aggressors such as free radicals. So, don’t skimp on your zees, and add a collagen-boosting retinol product into the mix while you catch your shut-eye. We’re big fans of ZO Skin Health Retinol Skin Brightener 1%.