Production of the collagen that keeps the skin plump and firm begins to dwindle in our late twenties and early thirties, but a thoughtful daily routine can help with retaining and boosting it—without resorting to the needle.
When does collagen loss occur?
Dr Paolo Facchinei Fleming, from The Beauty Concept, explains that “between the ages of 25 and 30, we begin to lose one percent of collagen annually. This process accelerates after the age of 40.” The aesthetic doctor says that implementing the right routine can help to both preserve existing collagen, and stimulate the production of new collagen. Aesthetic intervention–such as injectables or radio frequency treatments–makes a difference, but even if you do indulge, it’s still necessary to establish and stick to good skincare habits. “Good habits really make a difference, so before any medical treatment we always try to re-educate patients in order to obtain optimal results.”
What is collagen, and how does it affect the appearance of the skin?
“Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is produced by cells called fibroblasts,” says Dr Mar Mira, from Clínica Mira + Cueto. “Its main function is to create and maintain the structures of the tissues that form the body, generating resistant, strong and flexible fibers known as collagen fibers. These fibers bind connective tissues such as tendons, muscles, or skin and are affected as we age, since dermal cell metabolism becomes increasingly slower, influencing the speed of collagen synthesis.” Dr Facchinei Fleming adds: “The decrease in collagen, together with the loss of elastin (an essential protein in the skin responsible for providing elasticity) and skin dehydration, are three of the key factors that influence skin ageing.”
6 simple habits to implement now
“Age is not the only determining factor in the rate of production and/or loss of collagen,” says Dr Mira. Good habits can help.
1. Reduce sun exposure and use SPF daily
“Ultraviolet radiation affects the production of collagen in the skin, due to the oxidation produced by UV rays [speeding up] the rapid destruction of collagen and the decrease in its production. It is important to use adequate sun protection,” says Dr Mira.
2. Seek out green tea and ginger infusions
Facchinei Fleming recommends antioxidant and anti-inflammatory infusions such as green tea and ginger. Phytochemicals are powerful plant compounds that can help to prevent oxidative damage to the cells.
3. Add foods rich in collagen to your diet
The collagen protein, Dr Mira points out, can be found in:
- Bone broth
- Fish such as tuna or salmon
- Dairy products
- Foods rich in vitamin C (tomatoes, strawberries, oranges, peppers) are also said to help with collagen production
4. Reduce consumption of fats and sugars
As well as processed foods. “They affect collagen and elastin production because of their low-quality proteins,” explains Dr Mira.
5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
“Our cells need water to regenerate and eliminate toxins,” she notes.
6. Avoid tobacco and alcohol
An obvious one, but it is worth remembering just how negatively they impact the skin, causing collagen fibers to deteriorate, and affecting the fluid retention and the oxygenation and nutrition of the cells.
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