Skin Ageing and Collagen

By: Charlotte Miller

What is skin ageing?

Skin is the largest organ of the human body and the most visible one! Unfortunately, being the most visible, it is subject to some of the first signs of ageing. Skin is constantly exposed to environmental factors that are harsh on the skin. These environmental factors include sun exposure (UV light), wind, dirt, free radicals and abrasive products. The two types of skin ageing are intrinsic, or chronological, ageing and extrinsic, or premature, ageing. Intrinsic ageing occurs naturally with ageing and is loosely dependent on genetics and common environmental exposures (Athawale, 2011). Extrinsic ageing, however, is more dependent on lifestyle choices such as diet, smoking, stress, and sun protection. Extrinsic skin ageing, also known as premature ageing, has risk factors that are modifiable, such as the frequency of sunscreen use and a nutritional diet. Ultimately, extrinsic and intrinsic skin ageing can lead to wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin, and skin fragility (Athawale, 2011).

Collagen

“The skin’s strength and firmness depend on collagen” (Ahmed et al., 2020).

Now that you know what skin ageing is, let’s examine a key component of it, collagen. The skincare market is oversaturated with anti-ageing moisturizers, cleansers, and serums. Recently, collagen has been at the forefront of beauty products and supplements, being advertised as the key to healthy and youthful skin. But how true is this? Well, there are several types of collagen found on the outer and inner layers of the skin that contribute to the tightness and moisture of the skin. “Collagen 1 is the most abundant protein in the skin, and type Ⅰ and type Ⅲ collagen fibrils provide strength and reliance to skin” (Humbert et al., 2018). When skin is damaged by environmental factors these three types of collagen are reduced and destroyed. The loss of collagen (and elastin) reduces moisture in the skin and results in wrinkles, thin and saggy skin, and cell damage (Athawale et al., 2011). These losses are a major contributor to skin damage and premature ageing. 

What to look for in products

“Skincare products that stimulate collagen synthesis will not only revive but also completely renew skin complexion and fend off signs of ageing” (Humbert et al. 2018).

When searching for a new skincare routine or a new daily moisturizer to protect against ageing skin, products that promote collagen production are more valuable than products with only collagen. The addition of Vitamin C, which promotes collagen synthesis (growth), is something to look out for as well (Humbert et al. 2018). Another important ingredient to look out for is retinoids. Retinols, or Vitamin A, stimulates the production of collagen which contributes to anti-ageing appearances (Ahmed et al., 2020). I would be remiss if I did not include SPF. Use a daily moisturizer that has SPF in it, chronic overexposure to the sun is the number one culprit for premature ageing! 

Reference List:

Ahmed, I., Mikail, M., Zamakshshari, N., & Abdullah, A. (2020). Natural anti-aging skincare: role and potential. Biogerontology (Dordrecht), 21(3), 293–310. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10522-020-09865-z

Athawale, R., Salavkar, S., & Tamanekar, R. (2011). Antioxidants in skin ageing – Future of dermatology. International Journal of Green Pharmacy, 5(3), 161–. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-8258.91221

Humbert P, Louvrier L, Saas P, Viennet C (2018) Vitamin C, aged skin, skin health. Vitamin C. IntechOpen, Rijeka, pp 1–20. DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.81268

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