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Collagen for the skin - Healthy or Hype?


If you’ve ever searched for an anti-ageing skincare product, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Collagen. Many products claim to “replenish Collagen” or “boost Collagen production” in the skin. It will make your skin look dewy and fresh, your bones and nails strong, and your joints pain-free. 

Confused about what it exactly does? Here’s what we know about the most abundant protein present in our body.

What is Collagen?

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Collagen is the main structural protein of the extracellular space in various connective tissues, including the dermis, the middle layer of skin that lies below the epidermis. The connective tissue of the dermis provides strength and elasticity to the skin through an extracellular matrix composed of Collagen and Elastin Fibers, which are embedded in Hyaluronan and Proteoglycans. In simple language, Collagen is the main structural protein that forms the connective tissue throughout our body, from skin to bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments.

In fact, Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, making up a whopping 80 percent of our skin, and works with another protein called elastin that  keeps our skin elastic. Structurally, it’s made up of long fibers of Protein that provide strength to the skin and hold it together. Collagen helps the skin cells repair and renew and keeps the skin supple. But as we age, our bodies naturally start reducing collagen production. The number cause of skin ageing is the loss of Collagen. 

So How does it Decline?

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There are a few reasons—some are in your control and others aren't.

1. UV Damage

Excessive sun exposure accelerates the skin ageing process. This is because ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes damage to DNA and molecules, which produces more pigment called Melanin being produced while the skin protects itself from the damages caused by radiation. UV radiation can cause Collagen to break down at a higher rate than normal ageing. It does this by penetrating the middle layer of skin (dermis), causing the abnormal buildup of elastin. When these elastins accumulate, enzymes are produced which inadvertently break down collagen levels. Continued exposure only speeds the process, leading to further wrinkling and sagging.

2. Natural Ageing process

Collagen production starts to dip in most people's bodies from the time they're in their late teens or early 20’s and decreases about 1% a year. However, the exact age that this process starts is different for everyone. Read more about it here

3. Smoking Habits

The negative effects of tobacco have been well known, but what many people may not know is that smoking can damage the skin’s collagen, or result in slower Collagen production. While it is true that the repetitive puckering of the lips to draw in tobacco smoke can cause wrinkles around the mouth, the chemicals that tobacco smoke contains can cause irreparable collagen loss as well. When the skin comes into contact with cigarette smoke, it constricts the blood vessels and drastically reduces blood flow. As a result, collagen turns dry, brittle, and eventually dies. When large amounts of this protein are lost, wrinkles, dryness, and discolored skin occurs.

4. Consuming too much Sugar

While it is well known that eating too much sugar can have a negative effect on body weight and cause medical problems such as type 2 diabetes, which must be treated with insulin, eating too much sugar can also damage Collagen. When sugar consumption increases, a process called glycation creates a by-product known as advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. While Glycation is a natural occurrence in the body, eating too much sugar increases the amount of AGEs molecules, which attach themselves to healthy Collagen, turning them brittle and dry. The more AGEs that are created by glycation, the more Collagen they damage. As a result, the skin contains Collagen that is more prone to damage and breakdown, and this can contribute to premature ageing. Changing to a low-sugar diet and replacing sugary drinks with water will assist in protecting healthy Collagen.

Head over to our blog to know more about how your diet affects your skin.

5. Stress

Skin, which is the largest organ of the body, is an organ that perceives stress. Repeated short term stress induces free radical production and decreases your antioxidant reserve. Chronic stress leads to chronic immune dysfunction and increased production of free radicals and DNA damage which are known to lead to skin ageing. Stress reduction helps slow the rate at which your skin ages and Collagen declines. 

Read more about how stress affects skin here

6. Genetics

What lies in our genes is an important factor that determines how well our body can produce Collagen. Like ageing, genetics are something that’s outside of our control, so focus on diet and lifestyle changes that can promote healthy skin and Collagen levels, such as a wholefood and Vitamin C rich diet, limiting sugar and sun exposure, and avoiding smoking.

How does Collagen create youthful-looking skin?

Collagen is one of the most abundant building blocks of good skin. When you’re young, your body naturally produces a lot of Collagen. Some of the beneficial effects of Collagen include the following:

1) Promotes elasticity and good skin tone

2) Improves skin tightness

3) Maintains plump, full, glowy skin

4) Boosts moisture

5) Helps skin cells to repair and renew themselves

How to boost Collagen Naturally?

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1. Collagen Supplements

Collagen supplements have been shown to promote Collagen production.These supplements are made of Collagen Peptides, which are short chains of Amino acids that make up collagen but are small enough to be absorbed easily by your body.

2. Collagen induced Serums/Creams

Given the importance of Collagen for the skin, numerous Collagen-rich products have entered the market in the form of topical skincare like creams and serums purported to fight the aging process. So, if you’re in need of a new Collagen-infused boost to your skincare routine, look no further. We suggest using the Neemli Naturals Hydrolyzed Collagen and Peptide Scar Minimising Concentrate. This serum  has several anti-ageing skin benefits, like  increasing cell turnover,  stimulating Collagen and Elastin production, diminishing the appearance of fine lines and reversing the effects of sun damage including wrinkles, pigmentation and dark spots.

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3. Eat Antioxidant Rich Foods

Emphasize foods that are especially rich in:

1) Vitamin C including Bell Peppers, Oranges, Kiwi, Berries, Papaya, Brussel sprouts, Mango etc.

2) Vitamin E and Essential Fatty Acids including Seeds and Nuts, Avocado, Spinach, Swiss chard, Butternut squash, 

3) Green tea polyphenol antioxidants,

4) Fresh fruits and veggies in a range of colors (which equate to a range of nutrients and antioxidants) - Yes, eating the rainbow is important,

5) Spices such as turmeric,

6) Beta-Carotene is found in orange and deeply pigmented fruits and veggies including winter squash, carrots, dark leafy greens, apricot and mango.

4. Don’t Forget your SPF

It takes only two short exposures to UVA rays (two hours of strong sun over two days) to turn up the body's production of the collagen-degrading enzyme MMP1.The sun is the ultimate ager, it accelerates the breakdown of collagen fibers leading to the formation of wrinkles, we recommend wearing sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to protect the skin from photodamage.

Try Dr Sheth’s Oat and Zinc Mineral Sunscreen. This sunscreen offers broad spectrum protection against UV rays, pollution and blue light damage. It also comes armed with Oat Lipids that help bolster the skin barrier and ectoin, a bacterial ferment that calms the skin’s microbiome from inflammation.

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5. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera extract helps in naturally increasing the production of Collagen in the body, which further helps in reducing the visible signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles. Collagen helps in decreasing the wrinkles and helps in skin tightening.It also improves the elasticity of skin and is also a powerhouse of several components, which improve the skin condition as well as the health condition. Aloe vera contains 18 Amino Acids, B1, B3, B6 and C Vitamins that help to fight off free radicals that cause wrinkles. The Thyme Organic 99% Organic Aloe Vera Gel contains 99% of pure organic Aloe Vera along with Chamomile that moisturizes and soothes skin. It contains Vitamin E and Acai berry extract that has antioxidant, skin brightening properties and also helps boost collagen levels in the skin.

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Read more about the wonders of Aloe Vera here.

6. Ginseng 

This superfood can help amp up the circulation of your skin’s smallest blood vessels, in turn ramping up the synthesis of Collagen. Also, it’s antioxidant properties protect the skin from free radicals and other environmental aggressors that could trigger the formation of fine lines, wrinkles and even skin cancer. Ginseng is also available in the form of teas, tinctures and supplements.

7. Facial Massage 

Massaging the skin can help stimulate Collagen production and strengthen muscle memory. If the muscles in your face are toned they'll be better at retaining skin tightness, and more blood will be circulated around the skin helping to achieve a glowing skin complexion as well as boost skin nutrients found in the blood to the face. You can do a facial massage at home by applying gentle pressure in circular motions on your cheeks, chin and forehead. There are so many different kinds of face massage tools available in the market ranging from Face Rollers to Gua Sha and what not. The one we suggest is the Sublime Life Jade Roller. Massage your way to  fresh, glowy skin with this jade roller. It helps boost the blood circulation beneath the skin granting a visible glow on the face. The stone is naturally cold but using it after storing in the refrigerator will aid in increasing blood circulation, drain congested lymph nodes, stimulate Collagen production and keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay.

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8. Say Hello to Hydration

Staying hydrated and keeping your skin hydrated helps to provide a skin barrier for water loss, Collagen is able to bind to water and can naturally condition the skin to help maintain moisture levels which leaves you with brighter looking, more even skin.

9. Hyaluronic Acid

You must have heard a lot of skincare junkies talk about the magic of Hyaluronic acid in skincare products. Hyaluronic acid is an integral compound for Collagen in the skin. One way to incorporate Hyaluronic acid into your life is by choosing serums and creams with this ingredient. That said, foods that are abundant in amino acids (such as beans, root vegetables, and soya) can also get you a dose of Hyaluronic acid. 

The Deconstruct Hydrating Serum 2% Hyaluronic Acid with 1% Niacinamide is a super hydrating formula with 3-molecular weights of  Hyaluronic acid to hydrate  all the layers of the skin, supported by Niacinamide to soothe & keep skin oil-free. It’s a one-of-a-kind formula to take care of your skin’s hydration/ moisturisation from deep within.

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Read more about Hyaluronic Acid here 

10. Add the Gold Standard Topical, Retinols to your routine

Retinols reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing cell turnover and the production of Collagen. They also stimulate the production of new blood vessels in the skin, which improves skin color. Additional benefits include fading age spots and softening rough patches of skin. However, it takes three to six months of regular use before improvements in wrinkles are apparent and the best results take six to 12 months.

The Over Dermis Skin Alphabet Vitamin A Serum is here to be a part of your beauty arsenal, effectively renewing your skin’s tone and texture. With Collagen stimulating retinol this serum brings together powerfully effective ingredients that help combat all visible signs of ageing including fine lines and wrinkles giving you smooth, younger looking skin without any irritation.

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Click here to get your ultimate guide to Retinols.

11. Vitamin C 

Even though adding Collagen to a topical skincare product may be less effective, that doesn’t mean there aren’t topical products that can improve Collagen production. For example, topical Vitamin C in the form of L-Ascorbic acid with concentrations between 5 and 15% was proven to have a skin anti-ageing effect by inducing the production of Collagen. The brightening antioxidant Vitamin C works as a cofactor for the enzymes involved in Collagen production.  The best serums combine Vitamin C with Vitamin E and Ferulic acid, two antioxidants that boost Vitamin C's power eight-fold. 

The Conscious Chemist Vivid C Pro Collagen Serum helps in firming the skin and maintaining a healthy Collagen production, further boosting skin's natural elasticity. It also harnesses the antioxidant complex of Glutathione, Pomegranate, Carrot seed & turmeric extracts for superior protection against oxidative stress.

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Another amazing product that we suggest is Dr Sheth’s Amla VC20 Vitamin C Serum. One of the most concentrated natural sources of vitamin C in the world, the Amla berry is a powerful antioxidant and collagen booster. Ferulic Acid and Amla Extract help reduce fine lines, spots, and wrinkles. Vitamin E and Sodium Hyaluronate soothes and hydrates skin.

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Read more about this wonder ingredient here.

12. Peptides

Peptides have been widely thought to help preserve and boost Collagen and, in turn, lessen the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Peptides are essentially fragmented portions of proteins. So when they're used in skincare, the objective is for those fragments of collagen to stimulate Collagen growth. Complete, non-fragmented proteins are not able to be directly absorbed through the top layer of skin, so these smaller pieces are able to get deep into the cellular level. Peptides can be included in serums, moisturizers, and masks etc. They are also included in some topical serums used after micro-needling or superficial laser procedures to increase the penetration of the Peptide and help the skin recover from the procedure.

The one we suggest is the The Aminu Copper Peptide Serum. As a highly-focused effort to maintain healthy-looking skin, this pro-repair, pro-collagen serum offers a novel approach to target all signs of skin aging - even before it actually ages. This serum works to prolong the life of skin cells by  treating signs of skin aging, visible textural damage, enlarged pores, uneven tone & stubborn adult acne.

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Read more about Peptides in skincare here.

So Should you try Collagen?

Collagen isn’t for the middle aged any longer. 25 is the age when the skin degeneration process starts to set in. And that is the exact time when we should start opting for anti-ageing treatments. People should start with a basic skincare routine. Ageing happens because of sun damage, which can cause changes in one’s skin. It can increase protein and collagen degradation. It’s a good idea to start Collagen-stimulating treatments in your early 20s to mitigate future Collagen loss as your body starts losing more of it during the late 20s. You want to create the strongest skin foundation possible while your skin cells are still functioning optimally. The sooner this process starts the less damage there is that has to be undone and the more these treatments can work toward building and maintaining Collagen.

So, are you ready for younger-looking skin? By preventing loss, you can protect your skin's existing Collagen to prevent signs of aging. Then, give your Collagen levels and boost to keep your skin strong and healthy!

-Drishti Khurana

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