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How to support ageing skin: A complete guide

As we grow older, changes in our skin naturally occur, causing it to become thinner, dryer and forming more fine lines and wrinkles. This is largely because the older we get, the more our collagen levels start to drop and the collagen that is produced is of lower quality. 

Free radicals, such as the sun’s UV rays, pollution and smoking, can also speed up the rate at which our collagen levels diminish and contribute to ageing skin. The harmful rays of the sun can also damage the elastin in your skin, which becomes more apparent as you age. This process collapses the elastic, causing the skin to sag and stretch, eventually losing some of its ability to “snap back.”

What causes wrinkles? 

The body naturally produces collagen, but as we age the cells that promote collagen production in the skin decrease and slow down. This causes wrinkles and fine lines to develop and leads to dryness and thinning as well. From about the age of 25 onwards, we lose between 1-1.5% of the collagen in our skin each year.  From the age of 30, collagen production is significantly reduced. 

Collagen: What is it? 

Collagen is a protein found in skin and other connective tissues. We might think about collagen almost exclusively in association with our skin, but it does a lot of very significant work in ‘gluing’ several different internal parts of your body together, like muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. It’s also very important when it comes to helping your blood to clot correctly. 

Protein actually makes up around 20% of our total body mass and collagen makes up around 30% of that protein. So, unlike many other ingredients we search high and low for in our beauty routines, collagen is actually already in our skin! Collagen helps to form a system of cells called fibroblasts, which support the growth of new cells. It also restores and replaces dead skin cells. 

What is elastin? 

Elastin is a protein in the main connective tissue found in the dermis (the middle layer of the skin). This protein is also found in your artery walls, intestines and lungs. It allows your skin to go back to its original shape after being stretched or pulled, because it’s literally elastic. Elastin is 1000 times more flexible than collagen (1) and is made up of fibroblasts, peptides and amino acids. Its rubber band-like nature is vital in helping us carry out facial expressions.  

How to prevent premature ageing 

Internal and external factors both contribute to ageing skin. Let’s look at treating the inside before working on the outside.

Working from the inside out

The skin is often the first part of our body to show internal trouble (2), and there’s only so much that lotions, creams, masks, and serums can do before we need to take a closer look at what’s fuelling us. Researchers have found that eating fruits and veggies to get enough fibre, vitamins and minerals in our diet, is the safest and healthiest way to combat dull complexions and fine lines. This is because fruits and vegetables and their contents fight free radical damage and may prevent premature ageing (3)

Taking collagen supplements works to support your skin health and maximise the results of your skincare regime. As well as topping up your collagen levels, collagen supplements also help to stimulate your body’s natural ability to produce collagen, reactivating the healthy cycle. 

Vitamin C is the most common antioxidant found in the skin. It's also found in many vegetables and citrus fruits. Like vitamin E, vitamin C is considered important in repairing free radicals and preventing them from becoming cancerous or accelerating the ageing process.

What to look out for in collagen supplements

Amount of collagen 

As there are different types of collagen, dosage recommendations vary from product to product. However, collagen is non-toxic and there are no known drug interactions.

Types of collagen

Marine: Marine collagen is a type of collagen protein sourced from fish and other sea life, such as jellyfish, and is renowned for its high collagen content - especially Type 1 collagen. It’s also absorbed well by the body and is considered more eco-friendly and sustainable than other collagen sources.

Bovine: Bovine collagen comes from cows and is thought to help with joint health.

Vegetarian/vegan collagen is not ‘true’ collagen as it comes from non-animal sources (4). However, it is still thought to help stimulate the natural collagen synthesis process.

Working from the outside in

  • Avoid smoking: Smoking can speed up the ageing process, increasing fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the mouth, and making your skin thin and dry. 

  • Be wary of certain medications and drugs: Certain medications can make your skin dry, thin, itchy and weak. 

  • Diet and lifestyle: Dehydration and poor diet can cause your skin to age and become duller in complexion. A well-balanced diet along with exercise and good hydration can improve circulation and support the immune system, giving the skin a more youthful appearance.

  • Minimise environmental factors: Heating and air-conditioning can dry the skin intensely, not to mention the negative impact UV rays can have on the skin. So, be sure to wear at least 30 SPF daily sunscreen and limit tanning. Also, ensure you follow a good skincare regime, starting with cleansing, exfoliating, toning and moisturiser as recommended by your skincare specialist. 

  • Retinoids are considered to be the holy grail anti-ageing ingredient. Retinoids are a vitamin A-derived molecule that work deeper within the skin to help with collagen remodelling, as well as on the skin surface to increase skin cell turnover and improve discolouration and uneven skin tone.

  • Monthly skincare treatments such as microdermabrasion, skin peels and radio frequency facials from a qualified and experienced skincare therapist are also beneficial.

Summary

Collagen gives your skin structure and elastic gives your skin flexibility. Collagen and elastin work together to maintain both elasticity and firmness in our skin. It’s key to ensure you work from the inside out and outside in, nourishing and strengthening the collagen and elastin levels in your body in order to prevent premature ageing.

References

1. Elastin

2. Skin can show first signs of some internal diseases

3. Fermented Papaya Preparation Restores Age-Related Reductions in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Cytolytic Activity in Tube-Fed Patients

4. What is vegan collagen made from

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