Collagen is one topic that inevitably comes up when we talk about aging and skin. It is one of the things we need to keep our skin plump and youthful. If you look at any beauty aisle, you’ll find plenty of products with “collagen” displayed prominently on the packaging. But do these products and supplements work? What is collagen, and why do we need it? How does collagen in creams work?
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein and the most prominent building block in our body. It is present in all of the organs, and it gives our skin its structure and elasticity.
There are 16 types of collagen, and Collagen Type 1 is the primary collagen found in the body.
Our bodies produce collagen, but as we get older, this process slows down and the collagen we produce is of lower quality. Likewise, lifestyle is important, so things like sun damage, smoking, eating habits all play a part. Women can lose up to 30% of collagen during the first years of menopause and after that about 2% per year.
Does collagen in skincare works?
Yes and no.
The collagen molecule is big (3000 daltons), and as such, it can’t penetrate the dermis. When applied topically, it sits on the skin’s surface, creates a film to prevent Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL), and acts as a moisturiser. In that respect, collagen does work.
However, collagen in skincare products doesn’t stimulate the production of more collagen. Which is what we are all after. Some brands use hydrolyzed collagen in their products. The collagen molecule is split up into smaller sized molecules and can penetrate the skin. But there is no evidence to support the theory these smaller sized collagen molecules can bind with the collagen in our body and stimulate its production.
If you want the moisturising properties of collagen, by all means, you’ll get them from collagen-infused skincare. But, if you are looking to boost collagen production and tackle those pesky signs of aging, you need other ingredients to do that job.
What ingredients stimulate collagen production?
The gold standard is retinol. Scientific research backs up its claims of effectiveness.
Some of the benefits of retinol for the skin include:
• stimulates collagen production
• increases cell turnover
• minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
• fades hyperpigmentation
• treats and prevents breakouts
• It has antioxidant properties and protects the skin against free radical damage
Another group of ingredients to include in your routine would be peptides. There are various peptides – some (like Tripeptide-5 included in our Hydro Magic Collagen Catalyst) increases collagen by stimulating the skin’s natural growth factor TGF-β. It is one of the key components in collagen synthesis. Others work on skin’s elasticity and firmness or improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin C is another key component of collagen synthesis. Other notable benefits include its potent antioxidant properties (essential to protect the skin against sun and free radical damage) and its ability to help fade hyperpigmentation.