Collagen: The Foundation of Beautiful Skin
For years, skin care experts have recognized the importance of collagen for maintaining healthy, youthful looking skin. A stroll past any cosmetic counter will show you countless products that promise the secret to radiant, beautiful skin. Many of these products, especially the ones targeted at addressing many of the visible signs of aging, purport to either contain collagen or to help build it. You might already be familiar with many collagen-supporting skincare ingredients, or you might be approaching the idea of collagen-building skin care with a bit more skepticism. When it comes to taking care of your skin, a healthy dose of skepticism is a good thing. If you have been wondering what collagen is, why it is so important and if it can really work to keep your skin young looking, then hopefully we can help answer some questions for you in this blog.
Collagen is a specific type of protein that is responsible for the underlying structure of your skin. Combined with keratin, it works to build and support the structural matrix of your skin that is responsible for strength, elasticity and smoothness. Collagen is found not only in your skin, but also in your muscles, tendons and other connective tissues. In the most basic of terms, collagen is the glue that holds your body together.
Many signs of aging, both the ones you can see and the ones that you can feel, are a direct result of the natural decline of collagen production that happens as we age. You can recognize a decrease in collagen by the appearance of thin, loose skin, wrinkles, fine lines and that unpleasant achy feeling in your joints every morning. The good news is that not only can you fight the effects of collagen loss, but you can also take steps to restore collagen production.
We already mentioned that collagen begins to decline as we age, but at what rate does this happen? For the average woman, collagen production begins to decline around the age of thirty. Between the ages of thirty and fifty, the amount of collagen that your body produces naturally is reduced by approximately 50%. This gradual, but significant decline is responsible for the subtle, slowly appearing signs of aging that sneak up on us.
While topical products and supplements are good tools against collagen loss, the best practice is to prevent the loss of collagen in the first place. Granted, some collagen loss is unavoidable, however certain lifestyle and dietary habits will sabotage your collagen production, while there are others that will help to support and build it. Here are some simple, yet effective lifestyle adjustments to help you preserve natural collagen production.
If you smoke, you could be adding years to your skin by damaging collagen production. One study showed that women who smoked showed five times the damage to their skin caused by the loss of collagen and elastin.
- Avoid Sun Damage:
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the warmth of the sun’s rays. Just make sure that you slather on some sunscreen first. You already know that excessive sun exposure damages and prematurely ages your skin. One of the reasons this happens is because ultraviolet rays damage the underlying structures that support collagen production. Go out and get your vitamin D, but remember the SPF, even on those overcast days.
- Don’t Skimp on Vitamin C:
If you think that you only need vitamin C during cold and flu season, think again. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production. Vitamin C is needed for amino acids to link and form the collagen protein. One study showed that in women over the age of forty, that those with the highest amount of vitamin C intake were less likely to develop visible signs of aging that their vitamin C deficient counterparts. You can get vitamin C in supplement form or through natural goodness, such as citrus fruits. Some of the best anti aging creams and serums available, including OZNaturals Vitamin C Serum and Vitamin C + AHA Serum, are also rich in topical vitamin C.
- Cut Back on Refined Sugars:
There once was a time when we thought that sugar was just bad for teeth and waistlines. Now, we are learning that sugar is thought to be the root cause of a host of chronic health conditions. One way that excess sugar consumption can affect you physically is by prematurely aging your skin. Eating too much sugar causes a process called glycation, where excess sugar molecules attach themselves to proteins, such as collagen, to produce advanced glycation end products. The acronym for this end product is AGEs, which is very fitting since they damage collagen and accelerate the aging process. The next time your sweet tooth is trying to take control opt for a fruit based, natural sugar treat and help keep your skin young looking.
When it comes to preventing collagen loss, some of the most effective and important skincare ingredients are antioxidants. Antioxidants work by stopping the damage that electrons known as free radicals can wreak on healthy collagen. There are many sources for antioxidants in skin care products. At OZNaturals we search out the most natural antioxidant sources, and incorporate them into state-of-the-art formulations to deliver the most effective skin care possible. In addition to Vitamin C, you will find Astaxanthin, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Green Tea and rosehips among the many natural antioxidants we use in our product line.
Another very promising class of skincare ingredients for collagen loss are peptides. Peptides are short sequences of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. They are found naturally throughout the human body, where they serve a variety of functions. One of their functions is to tell cells how to react and what to do. When it comes to skin, peptides can signal cells in the dermis (called fibroblasts) to produce collagen. You’ll find the patented peptide Matrixyl ‘synthe 6 in OZNaturals Super Youth Eye Gel, Matrix 6 Mega Bright Eye Gel and Ultra Ageless Eye Crème.
Finally, there is one more way that you can preserve the collagen production that is necessary for healthy, radiant skin; an antiaging grocery list. While it is true that there is no magical food that will immediately replace lost collagen, there are a number of foods that you can include in your already healthy diet that will encourage and support collagen production. The next time you head out the door to do your weekly shopping, make sure to add a few of these beauty essentials to your shopping cart.
- Fatty fish that is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Fish such as salmon and tuna contain a healthy dose of Omega 3s which help to support healthy cell structure and function, both of which are essential if you are looking to increase your natural collagen production.
- Dark leafy greens. Those jade jewels that line the shelves of the produce section are exactly what you need to support healthy skin. Dark greens such as spinach and kale are rich in vitamin C, which helps to neutralize the enzymes that are responsible for the breakdown of collagen.
- The berry family. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and just about every other juicy, sweet berry that you can think of is great for supporting your collagen structures. Berries are high in antioxidants, which fight off the free radicals that can attack collagen. All berries are great, but blueberries are among the top common fruits with the highest antioxidant levels.
- Soy products contain genistein, which blocks collagen destroying enzymes and helps to support healthy collagen production. Some people might be sensitive to the phytoestrogens in soy products, so use them in moderation and discuss their use with your medical care provider if you have any questions.
- Citrus Fruits. Just like dark, leafy greens, the family of fruit belonging to the citrus family is high in vitamin C. Along with tart, sweet juiciness, you get antioxidants and antiaging benefits.
- Egg whites. It has been said that egg whites are the ultimate, perfect protein. This is because they offer a complete protein structure while being low in fat. Egg whites are high in lysine, proline and collagen; a trio that supports and builds a healthy collagen matrix.
- Red vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, beets and red peppers contain lycopene which has been discovered to naturally protect your skin from ultraviolet rays. Eating a plate roasted tomato and red pepper pasta won’t prevent sunburn, but it can help lessen the degree of damage to your skin, the speed that it recovers and prevent the natural destruction of collagen that sun damage causes.
- This is probably one thing that you probably weren’t expecting to see on this list. Copper is a mineral that is essential for the building of collagen and elastin structures. You can find adequate trace amounts of copper in a variety of different foods, including nuts, seeds, whole grain pasta, shellfish and lentils.
-- Angela Irish, Certified Aesthetician & Co-Founder OZNaturals