Collagen is a real “buzzword” in health and beauty circles these days. A lot of the interest centers around the anti-aging effects that collagen is reported to have on the skin.
So, are these claims too good to be true? Can taking collagen actually help skin appear younger and smoother? To find out, you have to go more than “skin deep” into the science of how collagen works in the body and for healthy skin. Let’s dive in…
Collagen: The Protein That Keeps Your Skin Smooth and Flexible
Collagen is a protein and is one of the most abundant substances in the body. It makes up about a third of all the protein in your body. It shows up in dozens of places: bones, muscles, tendons, internal organs, and the largest organ in your body – your skin.
The many types of collagen in the body are what keeps us together, literally. Collagen holds connective tissue strongly in place and creates cartilage between joint bones. Its gel-like texture even forms hair strands and helps create healthy eyes .
At the same time that it ensures strong connections between bones and other body parts, collagen is also responsible for maintaining flexibility. This translates into free-moving, healthy joints and, of course, skin elasticity.
While it would be misleading (and actually pretty ridiculous) to suggest that boosting collagen production can make you go from looking 60 to 20 overnight, current science does definitely support the notion that maintaining adequate collagen production and synthesis can help you prevent (and sometimes reverse) wrinkling, sagging skin in the long run.
Unfortunately, science has also proven that natural collagen production decreases with age . Lack of collagen is the main cause of wrinkles as men and women get older, caused in part by changes in human growth hormone (HG) levels .
A 2017 French study  is one of many to analyze the aging process by looking specifically at collagen synthesis, production, and “cross-linking.” (Note: synthesis refers to how something is created, or the process by which it is made.)
Aging is often first noticed in the wrinkles of the skin, and this has everything to do with collagen production or lack thereof. Many experts state that after around age 30, collagen levels drop an average of 1-2% per year. This means that by age 50 unless we are taking specific action towards replenishing collagen and living a healthy lifestyle in general, our collagen stores may be depleted by as much as 40% in only 20 years.
Turning Up the Volume on Your Body’s Collagen Production
The good news is that you can absolutely do something about it! Specifically, you can reverse the “normal” tide of decreased collagen levels in your body as you age in two ways.
First of all, you can up your own body’s ability to produce and use collagen endogenously (i.e. your body’s natural production). Secondly, you can take collagen supplements. And, of course, you can also do both of these things at the same time for maximum effect.
First, let’s talk about the collagen that your body produces naturally. While we might not be able to stop the decline completely, you can to turn up the volume on collagen production as well as how effectively it is utilized in the body.
Five Ways to Boost Your Body’s Collagen Output
The following five collagen production tips will not only improve your skin but also help your body as a whole.
#1 – Get a bit of sun on your skin.
As with a lot of health-related information, advice about sun exposure can be confusing. Basically, when it comes to the sun and skin health, a little exposure is a great thing. A lot is not.
Besides taking supplements, the sun’s ultraviolet B rays are pretty much the only way your body can produce vitamin D. Everyone is different when it comes to safe amounts of sun, however. According to the nonprofit Vitamin D Council, “(y)ou don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to begin to burn. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live in the world, and the color of your skin .”
Over 20 years ago, scientists were discovering how too much UV light from the sun can affect collagen in the skin. Your skin becomes “sun-damaged” when it starts to burn. This is when trouble can arise since collagen is often replaced with elastin in this situation.
Although elastin is important in the second layer of skin (called the dermis), when too much elastic accumulates, this can weaken the skin. Elastin is not as strong and hardy as collagen; elastosis, the overproduction of elastin, is often prevalent in many skin conditions.
A 1993 study by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found that “the total collagen content of sun-damaged skin was 20% less than nonsolar-exposed skin .”
#2 – Add vitamin C-rich foods to your diet.
Collagen is formed through the binding of certain amino acids like proline, glycine, and arginine. Vitamin C is needed for this process, which is called collagen synthesis . Vitamin C is so important for collagen synthesis in the skin that it resides in abundance in both the epidermis and the dermis of the skin. This is for synthesizing Collagen Type I and III, the most abundant kinds of collagen in the body.
Knowing all this, you can see why consuming more vitamin C-rich foods like citrus, peppers, kale, and parsley strengthens and fortifies the skin by boosting collagen. Not surprisingly, there is also evidence that vitamin C can help protect the skin from UV damage .
#3 – Learn to lower your stress levels.
If you want enough collagen to maintain healthy skin, you need to make efforts to reduce your stress. The link between major stress and skin conditions (i.e. hives, rashes, acne, etc.) has always been known, although the mechanisms for why this is so have remained somewhat of a mystery until now.
Researchers studying the “brain-skin connection,” however, have found a connection between adrenaline (or epinephrine) and collagen production.
Adrenaline is produced in abundance when under stress and is often depleted in people with long-term chronic stress. Chronic stress throws the delicate hormonal balance off in the body and this affects everything, including collagen production.
#4 – Make sure you get enough sleep.
As it turns out, there is truth to the concept of “beauty sleep,” and it has everything to do with collagen production! The importance of adequate sleep is part of conventional medical wisdom for health because of its role in immune system function. Part of the health of your immune system is collagen synthesis. In fact, studies indicate that sleep deprivation can hinder the normal function of skin as the largest protective and detoxification organ in the body .
As it turns out, collagen supplementation may also help some individuals sleep. In animal models, the amino acid glycine (found in abundance in collagen) can increase serotonin release in the brain .
Serotonin is a feel-good hormone that has healing effects. Clinical trials on humans have indicated that glycine can greatly improve sleep quality with no side effects .
#5 – Quit smoking.
We all know that smoking causes cancer and is just bad news in general. But did you know that there is a direct link between smoking and decreased collagen effectiveness?
According to research published in the British Journal of Dermatology, cigarette smoking interferes with vitally-important type I and III collagen synthesis . This leads to early wrinkling and sagging, along with a whole host of other non-skin related issues. If you won’t quit smoking for your health, maybe you’re willing to do it so you’ll get fewer wrinkles.
What About a Collagen Supplement for Your Skin?
A second way to boost collagen production is through supplementation – and there’s scientific research to back this up. Here are just a few studies that demonstrate the many ways collagen supplementation may contribute to beautiful skin:
- A 2014 trial conducted by the University of Kiel in Germany  found that women who took a collagen peptide supplement showed improved skin elasticity in as little as four weeks (compared to a control group). Collagen peptides are collagens which have been broken down into clusters of amino acids for better absorption and efficiency.
- Another study conducted in 2015 and published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that women who took a similar collagen peptide supplement for a period of six months had significant improvement in cellulite conditions .
- Topical collagen may also assist scars to heal quicker and be less noticeable. After an injury, a wound may take months to heal. Oftentimes, a scar may never go away completely. In some cases, a “keloid scar,” made up of fibrous tissue, may replace a “normal” scar. Relatively new biotechnologies for wound healing are gaining traction, however. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is comprised of growth factors, fibroblasts, proteins, and especially collagens .
- Many hospitals now have collagen sponges and dressings as well, especially for burn victims and chronic wounds. A 2011 Indian study  found that collagen dressing, in lieu of regular dressing, helped prevent the need for skin grafting and was more comfortable for patients.
- Finally, collagen supplementation can also help to hydrate the skin. It has the ability to maintain and even increase moisture in the skin and prevent water loss. When water evaporation reduces, the skin can stay hydrated longer and stays smoother and more refreshed looking .
If you are considering collagen supplements to improve your skin, above all else consider quality. In addition to a healthy lifestyle and diet, super high-quality collagen supplementation can be a sound choice for improving your skin health at any age!
With its synergistic blend of five different types of collagens (Types I, II, III, V and X) from four different real food sources, AnnieMak Clean Skincare Clean Multi Collagens is a smart addition to your daily skincare routine. Absolutely free from GMOs, artificial flavors, preservatives, colors, harmful pesticides and other chemicals, Clean Multi Collagens is a proven way to help keep your skin soft and supple!