Collagen: anti-aging matrix?
Let me start with the question what is collagen and why do you want it? Collagen is the substance that makes your skin firm and youthful. Of course, there are also other important complex skin ingredients, but his protein consists of 80% of your dermis. Quoting the New York`s dermatologist Dennis Gross1, MD: "Collagen fibres can be compared to many assimilated Roman columns, which hold together the upper skin layer.
Collagen fibres can be compared to many assimilated Roman columns, which hold together the upper skin layer.
When you`re young and healthy, the columns are durable, straight and they are in a big quantity. So the skin looks perfect – supple and strong". When the skin is healthy, it effectively and quickly restores the necessary quantity of collagen fibres. If the mechanisms of the skin is functioning properly, then the so-called “collagen production plants” – cells fibroblasts synthesize new collagen, and enzymes produced by your body, as a microscopic lifeguard team, break down the old or damaged collagen and remove it out from the body. Result: the balance between collagen synthesis and degradation, which provides beautiful and healthy look of the skin.
But factors such as UV radiation, smoking, environment pollution, stress, etc. cause damage to your skin, stimulating the free radical production in the skin. "The free radicals are like small arrows that pierce and damage the collagen fibres, making the skin thinner," Dr Gross explains.
The free radicals are like small arrows that pierce and damage the collagen fibres
The bad news about excessive tanning: the activity of ‘’collagen production plants (fibroblasts) reduces and the intensity of degradation of the collagen fibres increases, which results in the collagen metabolism disorders. And no matter how strong are UV protective agents you use, as a result the collagen producing cells lose their potential. ‘’As long as you`re young, the skin cells produce a sufficient amount of collagen, but at the age of 35 the cells weaken," Dr Gross emphasizes. At the same time, collagen-destroying enzymes become too active due to excessive tanning as well as due to damage of previous years. Thus, wrinkles appear and the skin gets flabby.
Changing the facial expression due to emotions, the skin usually makes lines, which smooth, when the face is returning to the neutral position. If the collagen in the skin is healthy, the skin easily smooths mimic wrinkles. But when the collagen fibres are damaged, repeated facial movements cause permanent wrinkles; the skin is no longer able to resist gravity.
1. 1. Start taking care of your collagen now.
When you`re relatively young and fibroblasts are most active –before you notice the effects of the sun or other changes in the skin – it would be the most appropriate time to protect your collagen fibres against future damage and to initiate the reinforcement of the skin collagen layer. "At the time when the skin has already remained thinner, it is more difficult to correct the situation," Dr Gross continues.
At the time when the skin has already remained thinner, it is more difficult to correct the situation
But it is never too late to start realization of healthy lifestyle measures and change your ways, taking care of the healthy appearance of the skin. One of the ways (which may be already is part of your life) how it can be realized is a healthy diet and physical activities. ‘’All that can saturate the body with oxygen and promote blood flow to collagen make the skin healthier," the doctor notes. Fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants help to protect collagen from the inside.
2. Use antioxidants and UV-protective agents as your collagen "bodyguards".
Relatively short two tanning times (two hours within two days) are enough for activation of MMP1 enzyme produced by our body that brakes down collagen. The level of enzyme rises by next sun episodes (survey data of the University of Michigan). On the other hand, people with light skin, which had used sun protective agents on a regular basis (up to 4 applications per week), did not show any signs of the skin aging after 4 years as well and their skin looked smoother in comparison with those who usually had not used theses agents on a regular basis. A smoother skin is an indicator of normal collagen level (Annals of Internal Medicine).
During the sun season, the minimum SPF 30 use should be compulsory; the concentration of filters may also be higher. As well as the use of antioxidants for the neutralization of damage of cells caused by the free radicals and the reduction of inflammation. Some of antioxidants perform dual role. ‘’Vitamin C is a key for the cell fibroblast receptors that can stimulate them" Dr Gross says. The best products combine vitamin C, vitamin E and ferrule acid. The latter two make the effect of vitamin C 8 times stronger (research data).
You can not see of feel the harmful substances and chemical compounds contained in the air. As we nor understand these substances can be strongly detrimental to our skin. In recent years, the science has been exploring hidden effects of the solid particles, gases and other air components on the skin, and it has become clear that theses factors contribute to the skin aging.
You can not see of feel the harmful substances and chemical compounds contained in the air. As we nor understand these substances can be strongly detrimental to our skin.
In one of the convincing researches in Germany (Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine) 2000 women were observed after 30 years spent in highly polluted environment. “We have found a strong link between the pigment spots on the skin of face and a high degree of air pollution," Director of the Institute Jean Krutmann, M.D., notes. Women who had been exposed to the particularly polluted air the appearance of aging spots was higher by 20% as well as deeper and more pronounced wrinkles compared to less polluted environment. Since the publication of this research in 2010, experts have increasingly studied the effect of environment and air on the skin health and aging. Explorers` findings are as follows (Yevgeniy Krol, Skin Ceuticals Research Director): “We know that oxidative stress caused by the polluted air directly damages the structure of the skin. This is because the microscopic size of the solid particles is a factor that allows absorbing the solid particles into the skin and causing damage to its structure. Even more seriously – the body reacts with an inflammatory response reaction. Inflammation by itself helps to neutralize and expel solid particles, but unfortunately this process damages the collagen and elastin in the dermis. Thus, the skin is exposed to double stress and degradation of important components."
3. Increase the amount of collagen and its quality.
High-intensity interval training, yoga, pilates and other sports activities work in different ways bur helps to achieve one goal – to maintain muscle and skin tone. Continuing the said by Dr Gross: ‘’Fibroblasts are stimulated, and the different receptors ‘’send" signals to the cells to produce collagen."
Proven and potential: derivatives of vitamin A
The effect of retinol and retinoic acid (vitamin A) is, probably, outdated information, but at the same time the vitamin has passed the test of time and is still valid. Vitamin A ‘’switches on" the genes and cells involved in the synthesis of collagen as well as helps to structure the existing and newly developed body`s collagen. In one of the recent studies, the positive effect of retinol on the collagen synthesis in the body has been found: retinol increased the level of 1- and 3-type procollagen (collagen precursor) and reduced wrinkles after 12 weeks of use. Retinol and retinoic acid can be irritating, so you should be careful while using it and should not overload it.
Excellent collagen stimulators: collagen peptides and growth factors
Both biologically active collagen peptides and growth factors have been scientifically proven towards the collagen synthesis and anti-aging. Peptides act as ‘’messengers" for cells, informing them of the need to reinforce the collagen production in the skin. Growth factors stimulate the fibroblasts and stem cells to promote the emergence of new cells and collagen production in the skin. Compared with vitamin A, both peptides and growth factors are safer and do not cause irritation reactions, but the desired result can be expected a little longer. Some experts suggest to combine the use of collagen peptides, growth factors and vitamin A – collagen peptides can be used orally, vitamin A and growth factors externally every second day. Sounds too good to be true, but oral use of collagen peptides has proven itself as one of the most effective methods to preserve a youthful skin, because effects the whole body skin and directly in the dermis, where the collagen synthesis exactly occurs in the body.
Sounds too good to be true, but oral use of collagen peptides has proven itself as one of the most effective methods to preserve a youthful skin, because effects the whole body skin and directly in the dermis, where the collagen synthesis exactly occurs in the body.
You should be careful, when choosing collagen peptide preparations, because not always a given collagen product has been scientifically proven and the effect may not correspond to the marketing promises.
4. Take care of collagen renewal through professional cosmetic procedures..
To ‘’restart" the formation of collagen in the skin, the skin traumatization is applied to. The body has to respond to skin damage with the collagen synthesis in order to avoid the effects of traumatization. One of the methods still is laser procedures, during which the skin is traumatized as a result collagen starts to form increasingly. The procedure`s unpleasant side is a small swelling and redness of the skin, which, in turn, are necessary for the collagen synthesis response reaction. The fractionated laser causes microscopic, punctate lesions of tissues in the collagen layer, which results in the formation of new collagen.
Another popular opportunity and cosmetologists` favourite method is injections of hyaluronic acid and fillers. Research shows that a given method not only temporarily smooths wrinkles, but also stimulates the skin cells responsible for the synthesis of collagen. ‘Skin cells are ‘’smart". When you are injecting filler, they ‘’realize": OK, now the skin is structured in such way, thus we should produce more collagen to keep the new structure!" Dr Hirsch jokes. But, as we know, by the time the body degrades hyaluronic acid and filers, and it becomes necessary to repeat the procedure.
by the time the body degrades hyaluronic acid and filers, and it becomes necessary to repeat the procedure
It is advised to pay attention to the fact that any cosmetic procedure will work only within the particular are of the body, unlike collagen peptides, which are taken orally. Collagen peptides get into the dermis from the inside, thus completely spreading throughout the body skin, which is a significant advantage.
Opportunities to take care of our skin collagen are a lot, but it is recommended to consult an experienced dermatologist-cosmetologist, because the choice of method depends on the individual state of skin and body.