Collagen is essential for healthy skin. It provides a supportive structure to the skin giving it elasticity and bounciness. The amount of collagen in your body reduces as you get older and as you are exposed to UV radiation or pollution in your environment. Typically this decline in collagen starts when you are in your 20s and then drops by about 1% every year. As your skin starts to loose the elasticity that collagen gives it, you will start to see fine lines, wrinkles and crepey skin.
The good news is it’s not too late to start boosting your collagen levels! Below are 5 actions you can start taking right now to get the bounce back into your skin.
1 . Use Retinol, Peptides and Vitamin C in your Skincare Routine
Applying collagen to your skin will not have an effect as collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed. You therefore need to ensure you are using skincare actives which boost your skin’s collagen production. The best three ingredients to boost your collagen levels are retinol, peptides and vitamin c.
Retinol has been proven to boost collagen production. The following two articles are worth reading. They look closely at some of the evidence we have that retinol increases the elasticity of your skin.
- Improvement of naturally aged skin with vitamin A (retinol)
- Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety
If you are new to using retinol then I recommend you read The Beginner’s Guide To Retinoids Vs Retinol In Skincare before you start. When I first started using Retinol I used a very mild product since it can cause dryness and flaking. The products that I use which I think are brilliant are by Beauty Pie. My favourite product is the Super Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream.
Beauty Pie is a membership club where you can buy luxury products at factory prices. If you wanted to sign up you will get your first month free if you use my link below or enter “OLIVIA” using the ‘Been referred by a friend?’ link at the checkout.
Peptides when applied topically can also help signal the skin to produce more collagen. They are are short chains of amino acids which act as building blocks in your skin and are responsible for your skin’s texture, strength and resilience. Peptides are able to penetrate the top layer of skin and send signals to yours cells to produce more collagen.
My favourite products containing peptides are by Estee Lauder
Vitamin C is essential in collagen synthesis, and also has antioxidant properties. It therefore helps both in boosting your skin’s collagen production and preventing damage to collagen caused by free radicals. For further reading on Vitamin C in skincare I recommend the following articles:
- Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications
- The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health
- Why Vitamin C Should be in Your Skincare Routine
- Vitamin C Serum – Proof that iWorks!
My favourite Vitamin C serum is the Beauty Pie one which contains 10% vitamin C combined with vitamin E. I also like the Indeed Labs C24 which contains 22% vitamin C, although I found this one slightly too drying if I used it every day. It may work for you if you have oily skin.
2. Protect Your Skin from UV Radiation with a good SPF
UV radiation plays a major role in the degradation of your collagen levels. The single biggest thing you can do to slow down this degradation is to wear sun protection every single day.
I use a sunscreen with SPF 50 every day and my current choice is Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart. It’s a broad spectrum mineral sunscreen so it blocks out both UVA and UVB rays with a combination of zinc and titanium dioxide. I find it very hydrating and it also contains a tint (a bit like a BB cream). It’s currently available on Amazon for £39.97. I wrote about this product in my 5 Top Amazon Beauty Buys and also in my article detailing the 10 Top Habits of Women who age Slowly. This product is not only a SPF but also contains anti-pollution ingredients creating a barrier against pollutants in the air such as car exhaust and cigarette smoke. It also neutralises free radical damage caused by pollution.
I also love the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Daily Defense Moisturiser which has a broad spectrum SPF 35. This moisturiser is slightly lighter than Prevage City Smart and does not have a tint.
Other ways to protect your skin from UV radiation is to include ingredients such as niacinamide, azaleic acid, reservatrol, vitamin E, green tea and vitamin C into your skincare routine. These ingredients all neutralise free radicals caused by UV rays.
3. Ensure your Skin is Well Hydrated by Using Hyaluronic Acid
The more hydrated your skin is, the better the environment it gives for collagen to thrive. In order to keep your skin well hydrated I recommend using hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid holds over a thousand times its weight in water and ensures moisture is retained in your skin. I use hyaluronic acid topically as well as taking supplements. The products I recommend are:
Hyaluronic Acid supplements by Wild Nutrition
Wild Nutrition’s supplements contain extra low weight hyaluronic acid which has been clinically proven to reach the skin surface. By having extra low weight it ensures optimum absorption in the skin layer. You can buy Wild Nutrition Hyaluronic Acid currently on Amazon for £37.10.
I wrote about this product in my article 5 Proven Ways to Reduce Under Eye Wrinkles
Hada Labo Super Hydrator lotion
This product contains three different molecule sizes of hyaluronic acid designed to rehydrate your skin at multiple levels. You can buy Hada Labo Super Hydrator Lotion currently on Amazon for £16.95
I reviewed this product in my article Japan’s Number 1 Skincare Line
Hydraluron Intense Moisture Lotion
This product is similar to the Hada Labo Super Hydrator Lotion in that it also contains three different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid. I found that this product was a very different texture to the Hada Labo serum in that it was thicker and creamier (the Hada Labo serum is very watery). Sometimes I like to use these together if my skin feels particularly dehydrated. I find that the Hada Labo product is more of a serum whereas the Hydraluron Intense Moisture Lotion can be used as a moisturiser. The Hydraluron Intense Moisture Lotion is currently available on Amazon for £21.99.
I reviewed this product in my article Hydraluron Intense Moisture Lotion
4. Eat a Diet that will help your body produce collagen
Vitamin C Rich Foods
Vitamin C helps with the production of collagen and can boost collagen levels in your body. The following foods contain Vitamin C:
- citrus fruits
I also take a vitamin C supplement which contains a form of vitamin c that is encapsulated in lipids to stop the body eliminating it.
This particular form of vitamin c has been proven to increase the elasticity of the skin over time. A study showed that over 16 weeks this supplement can increase your skin’s firmness and elasticity by 61.4%. It also leads to a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on both the face and body. You can read the study that was done here.
Proline Rich Foods
Proline is an amino acid that plays a role in collagen production. The following foods contain proline:
- Eggs and Dairy
- Bone broth
Glycine Rich Foods
Glycine also plays a vital role in collagen production. The following foods contain glycine:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Eggs and Dairy
- Meat and Fish
- Bone broth
The main food I always include in my diet which I recommend to boost your collagen levels is Bone Broth. Bone Broth contains both glycine and proline (two essential amino acids to boost collagen levels). It also contains minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, manganese, zinc and sodium.
Lysine Rich Foods
The third amino acid that plays a role in supporting collagen production is Lysine. The following foods contain lysine:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Cheese, particularly parmesan
- Cod and Sardines
Foods Rich in Copper
Copper plays an important role in maintaining collagen so eating foods rich in copper may help to boost your collagen levels. The following foods contain copper:
- Red Meat
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Dark Chocolate
- Leafy Greens
Foods Rich in Vitamin A
The following foods contain vitamin A:
- Egg Yolks
- Sweet Potatoes
- Cod Liver Oil
- Orange and yellow vegetables and fruits
Foods Rich in Sulphur
Foods rich in sulphur aid the formation of collagen and also help to maintain healthy pigmentation. The following foods contains sulphur:
- Fish and Meat
5. Cut Out Sugar and Smoking
Excessive sugar consumption may lead to glycation. This is a process where the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins in your body. It can cause collagen to become weak and brittle and make your skin more likely to wrinkle.
I would recommend cutting out refined sugar from your diet completely. You should check breakfast cereals and store bought products for added sugar. This article on the NHS website may help you find sources of sugar in your diet of which you may not be aware.
A diet with foods containing a low glycemic index can also help to stop spikes in your blood sugar levels. Examples of foods with low GI include oatmeal and barley.
I try to cut out refined sugar completely and make my food from scratch so I know exactly what is in it. I am aware in today’s world we need to find a balance between remaining healthy and also enjoying life so I will occasionally still have a desert on my birthday or special occasions!
Many of the chemicals in tobacco smoke damage collagen. As a result people who smoke long term will find their skin begins to wrinkle prematurely. If you are a smoker I have listed some resources below which may help you to stop smoking.
Here is a recap of the 5 ways you can boost your collagen levels:
- Use Retinol, Peptides and Vitamin C in your Skincare Routine
- Protect Your Skin from UV Radiation with a Good SPF
- Ensure your Skin is Well Hydrated by Using Hyaluronic Acid
- Eat a Diet that will help your Body Produce Collagen
- Cut Out Sugar and Smoking
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What foods help produce collagen?
Your body produces collagen by combining amino acids that you get from protein rich foods. It is important therefore to get enough protein in your diet from foods such as meat, fish, beans, dairy and eggs. You should also aim to get enough vitamin C, zinc and copper by eating citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, tomato, and leafy greens.
What are the side effects of taking collagen?
They may cause heart burn and acne.
What depletes collagen?
Exposure to UV radiation, pollution and cigarette smoke as well as too much sugar in your diet.
What is the best source of collagen?
Your body makes collagen by combining amino acids. The process requires protein, vitamin c, zinc and copper.
Does taking collagen really work?
There has been some evidence to suggest that taking collagen supplements over several months can improve skin elasticity. Other studies have also shown that collagen supplements can increase bone density and improve joint pain.
What is collagen made of?
Collagen is a protein made from the amino acids, glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine.
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