When it comes to maintaining a youthful glow and vibrant complexion, collagen is usually the first thing to get a mention. Sadly, this vital ingredient declines as we get older – the key to defying the ageing process is to retain and boost it over the years. With that in mind, here are eight ways in which you can increase your collagen.
1) Know what collagen is and why it’s so important
Before you can improve your collagen levels, it’s important to understand what it is, what it does and why it is so essential.
Collagen is a naturally-produced protein which is a key component of skin, accounting for about three-quarters of its make-up. Its job is to effectively hold the body together (it is also found in joints and bones), hence the name, which is derived from the Greek word for glue, ‘kolla’ (κόλλα). In the skin, it is needed for the replacement and restoration of skin cells and to encourage new cells to grow. It is integral for the structure, strength, plumpness and elasticity of our skin.
As we age, collagen production slows down. The time taken for cell replacement is longer and the structural integrity of the skin weakens. Unable to plump the skin as effectively, this is where wrinkles, creases and sagging starts to occur. It’s most obvious in women after the menopause, but the decline can begin far younger, exhibiting as fine lines.
2) Look in the mirror
It’s easier to take action when you can recognise the signs of lower collagen production – but what are they? Who better to advise than Destination Skin Training Manager, Faustina Aidoo:
“There isn’t a hand held monitor that lets us know when our collagen levels are dropping. The real signs are when skin cell turnover slows down, allowing fine lines and wrinkles to start appearing; the tone of the skin becomes uneven, you lose that glow and then gravity kicks in and makes those fine lines and wrinkles deeper, veins become more prominent and skin becomes thinner.”
Take a look in the mirror. Can you recognise any of the signs? Don’t despair, though, there are steps you can take to boost collagen production.
“We lose 10 per cent of our collagen every year and it probably started in our 20s,” Faustina adds. “As the years pass, our skin continues to change, but there are ways we can protect and preserve it.”
3) Stop eating sugar
Yes, we’ve heard it a hundred times before: sugar is the enemy. However, when it comes to preserving the collagen your body produces, then sugar really does have a detrimental impact.
Too much glucose in the body can affect your cells, speeding up the degradation of collagen. Excess sugar in the blood attaches itself to collagen protein fibres – a process called glycation – making them inflexible, stiff and hastening the ageing process. Cut down on the processed sugar products, such as pastries, cakes and biscuits, and watch your consumption of ‘hidden sugars’ (i.e. in ketchup), too.
Reducing or even removing processed sugar from your diet can have an incredible effect on the skin and help to preserve your collagen.
4) Eat blueberries
Swap that processed sugar for natural sugars found in collagen-friendly fruits. Those which contain antioxidants, Vitamin C and a bioflavonoid called anthocyanidin can protect your body from harmful free radicals, those nasty beasts which attack cells and destroy healthy tissue. Load your plate with deep red and purple fruits like blueberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries and prunes – all of which are incredible sources of these nutrients.
Dark green vegetables, nuts, seeds, soy products, beans, citrus fruits, tomatoes, fish, eggs and olives are among the many foods which ought to be on your collagen-retaining menu.
And in case you’re still reeling from point three, take heart; eating dark, antioxidant-packed chocolate encourages blood flow to the skin and, in moderation, can be beneficial.
5) Protect yourself from the sun
This will come as no surprise, but exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can impact collagen production and lead to premature ageing. It’s important to wear sunscreen at all times, so ensure you use a good quality moisturiser which has sun protective properties. A hat and sunglasses should be staple wardrobe accessories in the sunnier months – any excuse for a bit of shopping, eh?
6) Try a collagen-boosting treatment
If you’re looking for a proven collagen boost which offers noticeable results, then why not consider a specialist skin treatment?
Faustina says: “There are different procedures you can try to boost collagen, both invasive and non-invasive. You can start slowly by doing age management skin peels, which can include glycolic acid and plant stem cells designed to plump out fine line and wrinkles, reflate tired skin and reduce signs of premature ageing.
“Another route you can take is micro-needling, which has been clinically proven to stimulate collagen production, encouraging skin to regenerate and repair itself safely and naturally.
“As gravity is a factor, another great way to gently improve signs of ageing and create a natural looking result is to have injectable dermal fillers, which will restore volume, define lips or lift sagging skin.”
7) Stop smoking
If you’re serious about retaining and maintaining a youthful appearance, then it could be time to go cold turkey. Smoking is just about the worst thing you can do to your skin. It produces harmful enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases that damage collagen and result in the premature lines and sagging which so many life-long smokers are characterised by. We know it’s not easy to kick the habit, but it could be the best thing you do, not only for your face, but for your entire wellbeing.
8) Have a healthy skin care routine
Eating the right foods, stubbing out cigarettes and enjoying a facial will certainly help you rediscover glowing skin. However, it’s important that you incorporate all these good intentions into your own home skin care routine, as Faustina says:
“To have good healthy skin, your home care should consist of a good cleanser that can remove impurities that have built up during the day, a Vitamin C antioxidant serum to prevent free radicals from forming, a sunscreen with a minimum of 30 Sun Protection Factor to protect from UVA/UVB rays, and a correcting Serum/Moisturiser to repair and correct your skin whilst your skin rests at night.”
Bear all of these steps in mind and you could see remarkable, possibly life-changing improvements to your skin.