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Boosting Collagen in Your Skin

Boosting Collagen in Your Skin

Posted by Brendan Leonard with Dr. Hannah Sivak on Sep 14th 2021

What features do we associate with a youthful look? We could probably look at a baby to find those features at their purest, or from another angle, their most exaggerated. 

So, what do we have? Rounded features are clearly important. Smoothness of skin is critical. There is a kind of plumpness, firm and even but simultaneously soft and squishy, that is enviable. 

While no one probably wants to look like a literal baby, we can see how these traits read as youth to us. They change as we age, through childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and then into middle age. We can probably think back to times in our lives when we felt like we had “the look” and we wish we could freeze it in time.

Well that’s not possible and we all have come to a more or less acceptance of that, but it certainly doesn’t prohibit us from making our best effort at recapturing that youthful vigor in our skin.

At this point in skincare history, we can accurately attribute these characteristics at least partially to collagen production. As thoroughly modern consumers with an increasingly advanced understanding of nature and science we’re more keenly aware of concepts like collagen production than our predecessors. But what do we really know? We know to look for it on the packaging, sure. We know that it’s “good for us.”

But what do we know about how collagen production works? Why do we need collagen and how can we get more effectively and safely?

Let’s explore together.

Facts About Collagen

Let’s start at the top.

  • Collagen is a protein, and as such it is the most abundant one found in your body. It creates connections and therefore the structure of the tissues that make up each one of us.
  • While your skin is made up of many proteins and chemicals, 70% of it is made up of collagen.
  • Starting at about age 30, your body’s collagen begins to decline. As our founder, Dr. Hannah Sivak says: 

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.” 

And remember, collagen is not a panacea or a “silver bullet”. Collagen is great and necessary, but it’s not a magic spell that is going to solve all of your skincare problems.

When you look at that round-faced baby or that full-faced picture of your teenage self, you may be looking at the unsung benefits of subcutaneous fat (which we also lose as we age), not necessarily collagen. 

This goes the same for your under-eye shadows. Maybe collagen can help, but maybe not! The human body is a complex machine and there is very rarely a single answer for any one given thing. No matter what, it’s important to recognize why to use collagen as well as when not to.

What Do Collagen Numbers Mean?

If you are out there digging deep, learning about collagen products, you may see collagen referenced with a roman numeral attached. For example: Collagen XVII. To be honest, it seems like this type of differentiation in advertising is more common in the orally administered collagen supplements and less so in skincare, but we’ll get to that subject in just a second below.

These numbers relate to specific types of collagen that may play particular roles in your body’s internal mechanics. Let’s see what Dr. Sivak has to say about it:

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...Don’t obsess on collagen ‘numbers’. Some collagens are restricted to particular tissues and have specific biological functions.

The Collagen Booster For You

Skin Actives has a lot of ways for you to take care of the collagen you have already and to boost production of more. Check out some of our offerings below:

Epidermal Growth Factor - If you read our blog on EGF, you probably feel pretty confident about this active already, but if not, you can find more on that topic here. Our EGF contains extracted portions of cell mitochondria that are small enough to penetrate your skin and awaken activity that has gone dormant due to age. EGF is easy to add to any ready-made product or find a formulation designed with EGF here.

Niacinamide - While it helps with collagen production, niacinamide is not produced by the human body. For this reason it is necessary to take in this vitamin elsewhere. Topical application is one such way and will help even skin tone in the meantime.

Collagen Serum - This classic product was developed by Dr. Hannah by popular demand in 2007! You can read about it’s formulation here. Since then, this serum has been not only one of our all time best sellers, but a fan-favorite as well. Rich in Sea Kelp Coral in addition to niacinamide, vitamin C, epidermal growth factor and centella asiatica. In other words, it’s the perfect cocktail of collagen synthesis boosting actives, packaged together for you in classic glass for easy use. If you are looking for already made with a little extra, our Advanced Ageless Collagen Serum contains apocynin which has been shown to contribute to collagen synthesis.

How Not to Boost Collagen

Like anything else in the world, there are always downsides that affect the unwary. Some of these are the natural side effects of other products, others are bad actors trying to take advantage. It’s up to you as your own skin health expert to do your best with the information you have learned to take the best care of yourself possible.

Beware the following!

Oral collagen supplements - Your body deprioritizes your skin when assigning nutrition from food. This means that the supplements you take orally are very unlikely to yield measurable results.

Hydroquinone - This ingredient actively breaks down collagen and elastin, leading to less benefits of both.

Benzoyl Peroxide - Our old enemy benzoyl peroxide couldn’t stay out of the blog for long! This active massively oxidizes your skin for short term results at the expense of long term repercussions. Don’t believe the hype!

Procedures - Despite being very popular right now, Dr. Sivak is unconvinced of their efficacy:

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. For example: microneedling, laser, peels, LEDs and other lights, heat procedures.”

Thanks for joining us today after our Labor Day break, Skin Actives Family. We hope that you enjoyed what you read and learned a lot! Feel free to direct any questions you have to and check back here on Friday when we announce an autumn surprise just for you!