There is a reason skin care experts consider collagen as the fountain of youth. Besides making your skin look plumper and firmer, collagen offers incredible benefits. Let’s learn why you should think of stimulating collagen production in skin and how, with the help of Dr. Harish Kautam, chief dermatologist at SkinKraft.
What Is Collagen And What Does It Do To Your Face & Skin?
Collagen is a structural protein  that is found in connective tissues like bone, skin, hair, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. It is made of long thin fibrils that hold the skin cells together and give skin its strength. 
Fibroblasts (skin cells in the dermis) produce collagen. To make it simpler, you can visualize collagen fibres as anchoring material for the skin cells.
A sought-after ingredient in the skin care industry due to its efficacy in keeping the skin plump and young, collagen makes up for 80% of your skin and works alongside another fibrous protein called elastin. Elastin gives your skin its elasticity.
How To Stimulate Collagen Production In Skin?
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C has a long list of benefits, one of them being collagen production . You can apply vitamin C topically, take supplements or include vitamin C foods in your diet. Citrus fruits, broccoli, greens, strawberries and papaya are all rich sources of vitamin C.
Antioxidants bolster collagen’s function in the skin . They help our skin against oxidative stress caused by free radicals by donating an electron to the free radicals (atoms or molecules with an unpaired electron). Consider antioxidant serums or foods rich in antioxidants like green tea, blueberry, mulberry, licorice extract, cinnamon and basil.
3. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid, besides being a hydrating agent, helps in promoting collagen . It keeps the collagen moist and elastic. It can be found in food sources like beetroots, soy and beans. You could also opt for commercially available hyaluronic acid supplements.
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that is known to boost collagen levels in the skin . It is anti-aging, anti-oxidant and prevents the breakdown of collagen. Incorporate a retinol serum in your skin care post cleansing.
Ginseng is a plant with fleshy roots. It is available in the form of tea, tinctures and supplements. Ginseng has collagen boosting properties  besides anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.
Aloe vera gel has gained immense popularity for its skin soothing properties. Oral aloe vera can spike collagen levels  and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Aloe vera is also effective against UV damage and free radicals.
7. Collagen Creams
Topical collagen skin care products contain hydrolysed collagen or peptides. Peptides are believed to make way to the dermal layer  where they can stimulate collagen production. However, this theory does not hold scientific proof.
8. Facial Massage
There is a reason why skin care experts suggest facials in your late 20s and early 30s. A facial comes with a massage that not only helps in blood circulation but also boosts collagen production .
You can do a facial massage at home by applying gentle pressure in circular motions on your cheeks, chin and forehead.
Water forms 60% of collagen’s complex triple helical structure. Drinking more water keeps your collagen in shape and keeps wrinkles at bay.
Microneedling is a dermatologic procedure that involves using tiny needles to make holes in the skin. This induces collagen production in the skin , thereby reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
11. Collagen Supplements
There is little research which explains the role of collagen supplements in hydration, strength and elasticity . However, since these are not approved by the FDA, you cannot completely rely on them.
Some collagen supplements are made from sea food sources. It is best to avoid if you are allergic to seafood. Heartburn and bloating can be a side effect in some people too.
Factors Causing Collagen Breakdown
Collagen is lost as we age. Think of collagen as a glue that sticks the skin cells together. When the glue is lost, cells begin to sag. Fine lines and wrinkles that appear as a result are the first signs of aging skin.
Some factors that lead to diminished levels of collagen are:
- Smoking, alcohol
Foods Rich In Collagen
Chicken skin, chicken broth, pork skin, beef, soy, nuts and fish are good sources of collagen. Now you know why a protein rich diet is important for youthful skin.
The collagen in food is broken down into amino acids and peptides during the digestive process. There is no research that equates the benefits of collagen foods to those of supplements.
Can Collagen Be Absorbed Through The Skin?
Dr. Harish explains that a combination of oral antioxidants and topical serums/creams help in slowing the process of collagen degradation. You can't push away collagen as just another beauty fad because abundant collagen in your skin can turn back time. Consult your dermatologist and pump up some collagen in your skin to look and feel younger.
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