Collagen: The Building Blocks of Better Skin
By Chelsea Campbell
If you are looking to preserve the youth of your skin, look no further than the top dog in prejuvenation: collagen. What exactly is collagen, and how can it help you look younger, longer? We talked to Chicago dermatologist Dr. Carolyn Jacob for the scoop.
Collagen is a protein that is found abundantly in the skin and provides the skin and connective tissues with structural support. It is responsible, along with the elastin protein, for providing the skin with plumpness and elasticity. Collagen production naturally diminishes as we age, and without the support of collagen, the skin does not bounce back into shape as quickly as it used to. This leads to wrinkles and sagging, some of the main contributors to looking older.
Collagen & Prejuvenation
Dr. Carolyn Jacob makes a compelling point when it comes to preserving this precious protein: "Just like you take care of your teeth from a very young age," she says," you need to take care of your skin." Most people understand that they should be wearing sunscreen when they're out and about. However, there's a lot of things that you can start to do for the health of your skin at a very young age. For instance, most patients don't know that you start losing 1% of collagen per year after age 20. So you really should start doing something to generate new collagen and slow the breakdown of collagen, at least by age 20."
Dr. Jacob's top 5 recommendations:
1. "Wear sunscreen every day, rain or shine. UVA rays come through window glass and clouds. You can still get sun damage, even in the cold wintertime, so you need to have sunscreen on with an SPF of 30 or higher every single day."
2. "There are many medications that you can use that slow down the breakdown of collagen and elastic tissue. The main medicine that's been used since the 1980s is tretinoin, which helps to inhibit what is called metalloproteinase that breakdown collagen and elastic tissue."
3. "Antioxidants are essential in the production of collagen. Certain patients need more antioxidants than others depending on their lifestyle or their age [or their specific skin conditions]."
4. "Some doctors recommend for patients to use glycolic acids, which are rejuvenating, but sometimes they need to avoid them if they have sensitive skin." Make sure you speak to an experienced practitioner who can assess your skin concerns before you start using acids!
Final Words of Wisdom
Do not neglect your hands, eye area, and neck/decolletage! These areas show signs of aging first, but they are often forgotten. Do not let them betray your age!
Give products at least 3-4 months to start working before you expect to see any results. Many people toss products when they do not see immediate changes, so stick it out and wait patiently to see the fruits of your labor.
Avoid over the counter creams - you may just be wasting your money. The active ingredients do not contain the amount of strength necessary for impressive results, so you are better off seeing a board-certified dermatologist or aesthetician who can really examine your skin concerns and prescribe something tailored to your needs.
Do supplements work?
As for those collagen supplements that are all the rage? Unfortunately, the jury is still out on collagen's effectiveness when ingested (besides what is found in one's diet), but taking supplements certainly won't hurt. Dr. Jacob's advice is tried and true!