Age-related skin changes are natural. After age 20, we begin to lose as much as 1% to 2% of skin elasticity. Most people will notice a significant change in their skin’s elasticity by 35 years old.
Less skin elasticity is indicative of less collagen activity in the body, both of which can increase your risk of developing droopy, saggy skin. Collagen comprises 75% of the skin’s weight and is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is made up of long fibers that run parallel to each other. Collagen plays a vital role in repairing skin cells and renewing them and keeping the skin’s structure.
Now that we know the importance of collagen and its role in skin elasticity let’s look at how it gets damaged. Most of it comes down to our lifestyle choices, but others are out of our control. Our goal should be to control what we can, to minimize the impact of the natural aging process.
- Stress and Cortisol
High levels of stress can trigger the release of cortisol – a stress hormone – that can take a toll on the skin’s collagen and elastin. This is backed up by scientific research. One study found that chronic stress can speed up skin aging and lead to the development of wrinkles.
- High Sugar Diet
Consuming excessive amounts of sugar can increase the rate of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that can damage collagen by making it hard and brittle.
- Exposure to the Sun
Ultraviolet rays from the sun can break down collagen in the dermis and lead to the buildup of abnormal elastic fibers that eventually form wrinkles.
- Alcohol Consumption
Excessive consumption of alcohol can deplete crucial nutrients like Vitamin A, which can speed up the loss of collagen. This leads to the buildup of fine lines and wrinkles around the face, especially the eyes. Worse still is the fact that alcohol can ‘denature’ collagen.
Tobacco smoking affects your health in both the short and long term, including the health of your skin. Cigarette contains toxins that damage elastin and collagen, causing the skin to become hardened and lose its elasticity, leading to more wrinkles and premature aging.
- The Aging Process
The aging process is inevitable, and our collagen levels will delete naturally as we get older.
Things You Can Do to Boost Collagen Production
There are several ways of boosting collagen production with the help of a balanced diet and supplementation. Most of these methods require addressing lifestyle factors to prevent the loss of skin elasticity in the future.
- Staying Hydrated
The outermost layer of the epidermis should contain water, otherwise, it will lose its elasticity. Water plays a vital role in helping the skin maintain moisture, which increases elasticity, so try to keep your skin hydrated. Experts recommend drinking at least 2 liters of water every day.
Try to commit yourself to at least ten glasses of water – coffee and tea can also count toward your daily water intake. This is the most important step you can take to improve your collagen levels.
- Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is an important ingredient for collagen production in the skin. It is known for healing skin scars and healing damage. It is found naturally throughout the body but decreases as we age. However, if the body doesn’t have adequate levels of vitamin C, it will not gain the full benefits of hyaluronic acid. To introduce more hyaluronic acid in your diet, eat beans, soy, and root vegetables. Hyaluronic acid can be used as a supplement.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an important compound needed for the synthesis and maintenance of collagen. It acts as a kind of ‘glue’ that binds the long collagen fibers together. The body does not produce vitamin C, so getting it from your diet is very important. Foods that are rich in vitamin C include papaya, broccoli, strawberries, and leafy vegetables. You can also take vitamin C as a supplement.
Although most antioxidants don’t directly help collagen production, they help the collagen that is present to perform its function. Certain antioxidants are more effective than others for collagen production, such as pycnogenol. They can improve the effectiveness of collagen production and rejuvenate the skin. Introduce more antioxidants in your body by including green tea, cinnamon, essential oils, and thyme in your diet.
- Get More Sleep
Sleep deprivation can lower the body’s immune response, which may play a key role in collagen production. In fact, people who sleep only 5 hours a night can develop twice as many fine lines as someone who gets more than 8 hours of sleep.
- Limit Alcohol Intake and Quit Smoking
Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarette in excess can lead to long-term, often permanent, skin problems. Both can be managed by utilizing less damaging alternatives such as vaping nonalcoholic beverages. Instead of covering the skin damage due to heavy alcohol and smoke intake, you should always seek medical advice and look into treatment options.
- Protecting the Skin from the Harsh Environment
Our skin cells are engaged in a constant cycle of developing and dying. However, various environmental factors can make matters worse. Constant sun exposure, pollution, and harsh weather can damage the skin. The damaged skin has to be replaced, which lowers collagen levels. An easy solution is to follow a skincare regimen with the following types of products:
- Facial cleanser
Washing and moisturizing the skin daily can protect the collagen in the skin. Always apply sunscreen before going out, especially on very sunny days.
Talk to a skin expert or esthetician to start a skincare routine that works just for you. A good esthetician will also take into account various factors such as your workout routine, daily diet, and stressors (environmental and hormonal).
Start your skincare journey today with Skin Loft medical spa and gain access to the best skincare plans in NYC.