About 30% of the protein in our bodies is collagen, and it’s our main connective tissue.
It’s found in cellular walls, in our heart and blood vessels, forms muscle tissue, ligaments and tendons, holds our digestive system together and is the main component of our hair and nails.
The collagen just beneath our skin’s surface in the dermis makes it elastic and supple while giving it strength. It’s where our skin cells are formed and begin their journey to the surface layer, or epidermis, before getting sloughed off.
As we age, we produce less collagen, and what we do make tends to be of lower quality. We feel the effects of this throughout our bodies, but it’s most visible in our skin as it begins to thin, sag and wrinkle, crease and create crow’s eyes around our temples.
Protecting the collagen you have and encouraging its production is one of the primary goals of skin care because it’s at the foundation of your skin, and when that foundation starts to deteriorate it soon becomes evident on your face, neck and hands.
Your genes determine the rate at which your collagen production slows down and your skin starts to age, but premature aging has been linked to UV rays, pollution, smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise and other factors.
- Conversely, there are many things you can do to slow collagen’s aging process:
- Eat a healthy diet low in sugar and fried foods and avoid habits like smoking that have been shown to damage collagen or slow production.
- Do eat healthy foods that provide vitamins, minerals and amino acids that support collagen production, including citrus fruits, berries, chicken, fish, egg whites, beans and bone broth.
- Stay hydrated, which helps the skin create a seal against water loss and binds with collagen to naturally condition for a brighter, more even complexion.
- Use face creams and serums containing retinol, which stimulates collagen growth. Derived from vitamin A, it’s found in many over-the-counter anti-aging products and in stronger prescription forms including Retin-A and Renova cream.
- Wear sunscreen.