To eat, drink, or apply? Can the use of collagen slow down skin aging?Nov 23, 2023
One of the most popular beauty supplements is collagen. It can be found in creams, capsules, and soluble powder, and clever marketing suggests its beneficial effects on skin, hair, and nails. But can using collagen supplements really slow down or reverse the aging process of the skin? Let’s break it down.
Collagen is a complex protein. In our body, there are 25 types of collagen, but 90% of them are represented by types 1, 2, 3, and 5, which are involved in various tissues, including bones, muscles, tendons, skin, nails, hair, and blood vessels. After the age of 20, collagen production in our body significantly decreases, and a natural and slow process of its breakdown begins. However, closer to menopause, the process of breakdown begins to outweigh the synthesis, and we start to notice unpleasant signs of aging, especially on the facial skin, where the dermis becomes thinner, leading to sagging, wrinkles, and creases.
But can you replenish collagen deficiency in the skin by taking supplements? Being a complex, large molecule, collagen cannot be fully absorbed. When you consume collagen, regardless of its source, it breaks down into amino acids in your gastrointestinal tract. These amino acids are then distributed throughout the body via the bloodstream, prioritizing areas where they are needed the most, which may not necessarily be the skin when there are issues with the cardiovascular system or joints. Moreover, collagen in the dermis is not built from the building blocks supplied through the bloodstream; it is produced by fibroblasts, whose activity decreases with age, and collagen intake cannot increase their activity.
So, is there any sense in using collagen topically in creams and masks? Unfortunately, in terms of filling the skin, there is not much benefit. Being a large molecule, it cannot penetrate the dermis through the epidermis, and the only observable positive effect is skin moisturization.
What can actually increase collagen synthesis in the skin? In fact, collagen production in the skin can only be influenced in two ways:
– Using locally active ingredients such as retinoids (retinol, Retin-A), vitamin C, and growth factors that affect fibroblasts.
– External damage: chemical peels, lasers, microneedling.
Both methods should be used consistently and regularly and only on healthy skin. It’s important to note that the use of both methods should be done under the supervision of a specialist to avoid side effects such as scarring, pigmentation, the formation of new growths, and others. Also, when taking retinoids, be aware of their teratogenic effect, which means they are strictly contraindicated during pregnancy and for 6 months before planning pregnancy.
When the skin is healthy and fibroblasts are active, a diet rich in protein, as well as additional collagen and micronutrient intake, can play a role. It’s important to understand that animal sources of protein are more effective than plant sources.
However, all of this won’t work if our skin is exposed to other damaging factors in addition to age-related aging. The primary culprit is, of course, the sun. If we are constantly exposed to UV radiation, no collagen restoration methods will help us. Sun protection is essential for skin health. This leads to the important conclusion that protection from the sun requires additional vitamin D intake. Also, the damaging effects of smoking, alcohol, and hormonal imbalances can’t be ignored.
Remember that, like any supplement, collagen has its side effects. It is crucial to undergo a thorough examination by a specialist before taking it. Taking collagen supplements and increasing dietary protein should be done with great caution in patients with certain conditions like chronic kidney disease, varicose veins, a tendency for thrombophlebitis, and thrombosis.
Additionally, if we’re talking about dietary supplements specifically, collagen is not an FDA-recommended or regulated product. This means that only the manufacturer knows the contents, quality, and safety of the package. When taking supplements, it’s crucial to choose a reputable and verified manufacturer.In conclusion, taking care of your skin is not a one-time action; it’s a lifestyle. Be healthy.