Before you embark on a program to increase collagen in your skin, you may wish to learn more about collagen
And before you ask, no, plants don’t have (or need) collagen.
Why do you want more collagen in your skin?
collagen is important! Collagen fibers give the skin resistance to strain and traction and make about 70% of the skin’s mass. Total collagen decreases about 1% per year; it may look like a slow decline but a decline of such a major component of the skin will affect skin volume and its physical properties. Also, aging changes the structure of collagen. What was an organized pattern in young skin, can become a mess of disorganized bundles of thick fibrils in older skin. It is not only quantity that matters, it is also quality. Glycosylation, proteolysis, oxidation, and other processes will modify collagens and make them unable to do their jobs.
- Some of that firmness and “bulk” that our face loses as we age is actually lost subcutaneous fat, not collagen
- Some of those undereye shadows are actually not to do with collagen
- Not all skin problems are caused by collagen!
What are all those Roman numerals?
Collagens play structural roles and contribute to the mechanical properties, organization, and shape of tissues. They interact with cells via receptors and regulate the proliferation, migration, and differentiation of those cells. In vertebrates like us, humans, the collagen superfamily includes28 members numbered with Roman numerals (I–XXVIII). The common structural feature of collagens is the triple helix that can range from most of the structure (96% for collagen I) to less than 10% (collagen XII).
Don’t obsess on collagen “numbers”. Some collagens are restricted to particular tissues and have specific biological functions. For example, in the skin, collagen 17 increases the survival of the mother cells derived from stem cells. Collagen VII is a component of anchoring fibrils and participates in dermal-epidermal adhesion.
Can you increase collagen synthesis in the skin?
Yes. But remember. Some topically applied ingredients can benefit your skin, and increase collagen synthesis, but others may harm it. Bad ingredients will worsen skin texture, increase wrinkles and cause hyperpigmentation, and some of these baddies find their way into “skincare” products.
Read about how SAS collagen serum came to be
Vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis, but its role as a cofactor means that we need just traces of it. If you decide to go for a very high concentration it will be for different reasons.
Glycans that contain rhamnose stimulate cell proliferation, decrease elastase-type activity, stimulate collagen biosynthesis, and protect hyaluronan against degradation promoted by reactive oxygen species (ROS*).
Sea kelp bioferment (fucoidan) will increase the density of collagen bundles, decrease protease activity, increase the scavenging of free radicals, and increase cell proliferation.
Apocynin will promote the synthesis of collagen 17, and will support the establishment of new cells.
What will not work
- copper is an example of an ingredient that is bad for you when you use too much, the high-copper serums user can expect more wrinkles, more hyperpigmentation, less collagen, less hyaluronic acid, less viable cells, and slower healing. Unfortunately, almost any amount of copper is “too much” because it adds to the copper present in our environment.
- hydroquinone breaks-down of collagen and elastin
- benzoyl peroxide
Fancy procedures and at-home devices promise more collagen but are just experimental: there is no evidence that they will benefit your skin in the long term, and they may involve risks that I would be unwilling to take. Examples:
- LEDs and other lights
Remember: quality matters
What do I mean by “quality” in a protein?
- Preserve intact structure and function
- Prevent mutations
- In the case of elastin, another protein crucial in skin structure, try to get your skin to keep the “right” sequence
- Wear sunscreen!
- Prevent damage by ROS*
Want to make life easy?
Ramaut, L., Hoeksema, H., Pirayesh, A., Stillaert, F., & Monstrey, S. (2018). Microneedling: Where do we stand now? A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, 71(1), 1–14. doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2017.06.006
Ricard-Blum S.(2011) The collagen family. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2011;3:a004978. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a004978
DISCLAIMER: These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.