When we look in the mirror we see just one layer of skin, but there are actually three layers that make up that beautiful layer that keeps us safe from the outside world. With age, our skin starts to visibly change.
We may start to notice a loss of moisture, elasticity, and a ‘slackness’ especially around our mouth and our chest. This is due to a decrease in collagen production. The No. 1 cause of skin aging, and wrinkles, is the loss of collagen.1
Paying attention to collagen skincare, and using hormones to boost natural collagen is critical to maintaining your youthful appearance, and prevent saggy skin, jowls, eye bags, and droopy eyelids.
What is Collagen and Where Is It?
Collagen is like the scaffolding in a building but in your skin. It is a structural protein and is the main component of your skin. Skin is an actual organ, like your heart or brain except that it is far bigger than the other organs in your body. Much of what happens in your skin, like acne, dryness, and even sweat, is impacted by reactions and activities deep within the skin layers.
The skin has three primary layers, and each layer has a specific job 1) The Epidermis 2) The Dermis 3) The Subcutaneous Layer.
The Epidermis is the outer layer of skin, and the body’s first line of defense against the outside world including bacteria, viruses, and even the weather.
The Dermis is the layer that most impacts the ability to keep your skin youthful-looking. Collagen and elastin make up most of the dermis. Collagen is responsible for giving your face that youthful bounce, and as it declines, fine lines appear.
The dermis layer is responsible for:
Delivering nutrients to your skin and removing by-products or toxins.
Sweat glands push sweat through your pores to cool and clear your body of toxins.
Your hair follicles and oil glands, which produce the oil that softens and smoothes skin or can cause breakouts and greasiness, are located here.
The Subcutaneous Layer
This is the deepest layer of skin and it attaches your bones to your muscle. It is such a deep layer that the active ingredients in skin care products will never reach it. It works to insulate the body, acts to pad and protect your muscles, bones, and organs from injury, and contains blood vessels, nerves, hair follicle roots, and glands that create oil.
Personalized anti-aging treatments. For you.
Tips on How to Boost & Protect Collagen Production
There seems to be an endless resource of anti-aging creams that claim to be the ‘answer.’ While anti-aging face cream can help reduce fine lines, there are more effective anti-wrinkle treatments available that can help with the underlying cause of wrinkles – decreased collagen.
Outlined below are products and treatments available, tips on how to boost collagen production, and how to prevent and reduce the development of wrinkles and slow the signs of aging.
Balance your hormones.
The hormones that decrease with menopause can be replaced with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). But how effective is HRT at reversing these changes? Very. As we age, there are a number of things that happen that make our skin look older and all are related to hormone levels:
Collagen and elastin levels decrease,
The thickness of the epidermis and dermis is reduced, and
When you combine #1 and #2, these changes can lead to dryness and itching, wrinkles and fragility, and finally an increased risk of skin trauma.
The evidence surrounding how hormone replacement therapy (HRT) plays a role in anti-aging treatments is solid, and it is never too late once these wrinkles start appearing. We know that HRT can improve the appearance of wrinkles on low collagen, sun-exposed areas of the body.
One study found that topical cream HRT and oral HRT were able to reduce skin slackness.3,4 Another study using estrogen cream for women between 52 – 70 for 7 months significantly helped reduce fine wrinkles.7,8 A study that had women use HRT for at least 5 years also produced improvements in skin elasticity with less pronounced wrinkling.3-7
Who our parents play a role in how our body works in general, including how much collagen we make and how quickly it breaks down. If your parents and grandparents had great skin for years, the odds are high that your skin will age similarly.
Add Retinoids to Your Routine.
Retinoid/retinol are vitamin A derivatives that work at the molecular level to increase collagen production. Consistent research has shown an improvement in facial wrinkles after applying retinol for 12 weeks.5,6
Protect Collagen With Topical Vitamin C.
Adding vitamin C serum in the morning is a good option since vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects the collagen in your skin against UV damage, triggers collagen formation, and stabilizes the collagen proteins in the skin.
De-Stress Your Life.
Stress causes inflammation and weakens the body’s ability to repair itself, which can lead to speeding up skin aging.
Keep Moving & Exercise.
Exercise not only helps maintain the tone of muscles that hold our skin up, but it also can slow the aging process by lowering stress.
Cut Back on Alcohol.
Alcohol decreases the skin’s ability to produce collagen and disrupts its natural antioxidant defense system (making it more vulnerable to damage). People who drink eight or more drinks per week are more likely to have lines and wrinkles.6,7
Embrace the Importance of Sleep, Sleep, Sleep.
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule of 7-9 hours of sleep can help with collagen renewal, reduce stress and decrease the signs of aging.
Sunscreen, Sunscreen, Sunscreen.
You are never too young to start wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen is vital for skin cancer prevention — but it also keeps skin young and springy. UV exposure can lead to the breakdown of collagen, which can lead to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher,
Apply first thing in the morning.
Remember to reapply throughout the day, the morning is not enough. Sunscreen lasts for two hours.
Add sunscreen to your face, under your chin, neck, chest, and back of your hands. The skin in these areas is thinner and can show the signs of aging more readily.
Consider wearing a hat with at least a 3-inch brim that can block the UV rays to your face even more.
Sunglasses protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes which can keep crow’s feet from forming. Even cheap sunglasses will help.
Consider Taking Collagen Supplements. Preliminary research shows that collagen supplements can help increase skin elasticity, hydration, and the density of collagen within the skin.
Maybe Add Some Protein to Your Plate. Eating a balanced diet is always important, but consider including an adequate amount of lean protein that can provide the amino acids needed for collagen synthesis.
Limit How Much Sugar You Eat. When you eat a diet high in sugar you increase the production of something called “advanced glycation end” products (AGE). AGEs break down collagen.
Add Produce. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase the level of antioxidants (Vitamin C especially) and can help to ward off free radical damage that degrades collagen.
Consider a Dermatology Appointment?
Chemical Peels and other anti-aging procedures, including a chemical peel, can boost skin cell turnover, which in turn stimulates collagen production, helps with the tone, texture, and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Always ask your dermatologist if you are a good candidate for a resurfacing laser, radiofrequency treatment, micro-needling, and more.
Personalized anti-aging treatments. For you.
What Damages Collagen Production?
Many of the skin changes you observe with age are due to decreased hormones. Below are some of the other factors that can deplete your collagen levels, and we offer some ideas for how to support collagen production naturally.
UV Sun Damage
Scientists have shown the link between UV damage and the significant decrease in and loss of collagen.1 UV rays damage collagen by damaging DNA in the cells that make collagen and also produce free radicals that can damage collagen directly.
As we age, collagen production starts to dip in most people’s bodies. Starting in your late teens or early 20s your collagen decreases about 1% per year (!). While everyone’s skin ages differently, basically by the time you are 50 that means that your collagen production can be 30% lower than when you graduated high school.2
Regardless of the speed, the process is inevitable. When we are young, our bodies produce more collagen than we break down, but as we age the balance of collagen creation and tissue breakdown reverses and we see those signs of aging.
Without a doubt, smoking (and that includes vaping) causes premature aging. The main reason is that smoking damages collagen. Smoking causes damage by decreasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the cells which results in causing cell damage and death. And that can lead to premature wrinkles.
Diets That Trigger Inflammation
We talk a lot about ‘inflammation,’ but there are misunderstandings about what it is. Inflammation is a process that our body uses to try to protect itself. It can protect us from damage, foreign invaders and help us heal injuries. But, when inflammation is an overreaction, it is ‘bad inflammation.’
This can set off a long list of problems including arthritis and heart disease. Bad inflammation can also act as an enemy of tissue, like collagen.3,8
Inflammation can be set off by the foods you eat. A diet high in sugar, simple carbohydrates, and processed meats, can activate the immune system and promote inflammation which may interfere with collagen production, weakening the skin foundation, and promoting premature skin aging.2
We know of two ways that excess stress can lower collagen production: i) It sparks inflammation that lowers our ability to produce collagen, and ii) Stress also causes an increase in the ‘stress hormone cortisol, which decreases the production of collagen.
There are effective ways to slow the natural decline of collagen production in your skin, like avoiding UV damage and doing your best to support your natural collagen production. Eating right and taking a supplement can go a long way toward giving you healthy-looking, firm skin in the future.
As you age, your levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone drop. This drop accelerates aging-related changes in the skin.1 The role hormone replacement therapy (HRT) plays in anti-aging treatments is a hot topic. While anti-aging face cream can help reduce fine lines, HRT is a more effective anti-wrinkle treatment.
There is no doubt that adding back estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone exert beneficial effects on the skin. Reach out to Winona today for your free consultation with our physicians.
“This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.”