Try these tips for tighter skin, smoother joints and stronger hair
You may be familiar with collagen through your skincare routine, but this protein gives us far more than a youthful complexion. It’s the major component of our connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, skin and muscles. It’s what makes our tissues grow and move and yes, its presence under our skin can keep it from sagging over time, too.
“Collagen is present in the connective tissue in the middle layers of the skin, where its molecule combines with other collagen molecules to form a mesh-like network,” says Dr Majid Shah, for Artistry Clinic. “Working together with elastin, it is crucial for providing a structure for the skin, whilst also enabling elasticity. It therefore plays an important role in joint and bone health.”
From our 20s our bodies produce less collagen, which can mean weaker joints, thinner hair and more sagging and wrinkles on our faces. And when the menopause hits, our bodies cease production of collagen altogether!
“The common perception is that we age depending on our genes,” says Rachel Huskinson, beauty therapist and director of SKIN Lounge, “however, DNA only contributes to around 10 percent of our overall ageing process. On average, 90 percent of skin ageing is based on our lifestyle, and this is why looking after our collagen is so important.”
The good news is the more collagen you have, the easier it is to maintain. And the more we can keep the collagen we have alive and strong, the better we will age. “Collagen is like scaffolding keeping everything strong and in place,” adds Rachel, “so if you’re looking to stay young and plumped up you’ll need to make stimulating new collagen and protecting your current collagen your focus.” We’ve rounded up five of the best collagen boosting tips you can implement today.
“When your body produces collagen, it combines amino acids which you can get from eating protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish, beans and dairy products,” says Dr Rupert Critchley BM MRCGP – GP and director of VIVA skin clinics. “Eating foods containing nutrients and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, copper and proline can also help the process. Ensuring you maintain a varied, healthy diet can therefore help the collagen production process.”
Aloe Vera is a popular ingredient in skincare products, but why? “It’s great for fighting off free radicals,” says Tom Jenane, nutrition and fitness expert for natureshealthbox. co.uk, “especially thanks to its high levels of zinc. Free radicals are the guilty culprits that damage cells and cause ageing. If you’re fighting off free radicals then the skin cells can continue to produce collagen and stay elastic. Try Lamberts Aloe Vera 10,000mg supplement (£9.89 for 90 tablets, natureshealthbox.co.uk)
Collagen is a protein made up of three amino acids: glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. Their triple helix formation is its trademark and vitamin C is said to be essential for normal collagen production. “The process of collagen synthesis occurs mainly in the cells of fibroblasts,” says Majid, “which are specialised cells with the main function of synthesising collagen and stroma (connective tissue cells).” So up your intake of vitamin C and look for vitamin C-containing face creams too, to help this vital process.
Late bedtimes, stress and disrupted sleep patterns can all contribute to a decline in our collagen levels. “Without rest,” says Rachel, “our collagen cells will not reproduce at the quality and speed that well rested cells would.” So get to bed early, leave screens out of the bedroom and make sure you get a good 7-8 hours. Your face will thank you.
Fucus serratus (that’s seaweed extract to you and me) works as a powerful anti-ageing compound, preventing damage to amino acids in your skin while protecting and reinforcing cell membranes. The seaweed extract also stimulates the production of dermal collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin and research suggests that seaweed collagen helps to lessen wrinkle depth, stimulate skin renewal after free radical and sun damage, and regenerate damaged tissue. The extract is also rich in antioxidants called Polyphenols that provide protection against environmental damage to the skin by neutralising free radicals. Try Ishga’s Regenerating Face Serum, for a big seaweed hit, £63 for 50ml, uk.ishga.com
Serums work deeper into the skin than moisturisers as they are typically thinner and lighter with smaller particles which are able to penetrate through the pores
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