At a rudimentary level, we all know that collagen plays a role in keeping our skin looking plump and youthful. You’ve probably heard of collagen-boosting foods and nourishing herbs to take, but what about collagen-boosting skincare? We speak to experts to find out why collagen is important and what kind of products we should look for to boost the collagen levels in our skin.
What is collagen and the role of it in our skin?
According to Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of SW1 Clinic, “Collagen is a protein that provides structure to most of your body. Including your bones, skin, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen is what keeps our skin from sagging, giving us that plump, youthful look.” Collagens make up the most abundant proteins in our body. As Dr Gladys Teo, Head of R&D of ést.lab, shares, “There are a total of 28 types of collagen. These important structural assemblies fulfil different functions of the skin. And they work together to contribute to our skin’s overall architecture, integrity, shape, and mechanical properties (such as tensile strength in the skin).”
What happens to collagen production when our skin starts to age?
Collagen production slows down with age. Dr Low shares, “From the age of 30 onwards you can expect the amount of collagen in your body to decrease over time. Even by as little as just one or two per cent per year. This reduction is the body’s response to the ageing process. It is a natural part of what happens as we age.”
Although the degradation of existing collagen inevitably happens, this process can be slowed down by ‘replacing’ damaged collagen with newly synthesised collagen through religious use of skincare. Dr Teo explains, “Collagen degradation is reduced in a healthy sun-protected aged skin compared to a photodamaged aged skin. The age-related decrease in collagen-synthetic activity could be, at least in part, ‘reversible’.”
What are some collagen-boosting ingredients? How do they work?
Vitamin C and E are strong antioxidants and act as strong shields to protect our skin from UV-photodamage. Dr Teo shares, “With topical application of Vitamin C and E, collagen-producing fibroblasts have increased chances of surviving UV-stresses. Vitamin A, such as retinol, increases the expression of Epidermal Growth Factors. It plays a critical role in stimulating the production of collagen by fibroblasts and supports cell renewal.”
Peptides function as activators to stimulate the synthesis of major constituents of the skin such as collagen. In the dermis, peptides are able to enter the skin cell and interact with specific proteins to signal the upregulation of collagen synthesis.
Dr Teo further explains, “Keeping your skin constantly well-hydrated plays an important role in boosting collagen. At the molecular level, water mediates collagen turnover and assembly. Water in your skin also aids water-soluble vitamins to be used by the body for collagen production. Skincare containing moisturising ingredients can help reduce trans-epidermal water loss. That way, it can keep the skin hydrated to support collagen production.”