One of my favorite parts of my job as a skin therapist, is to educate people on current skin trends and why they may or may not matter to their specific needs. By “trends,” I’m mostly referring to buzz words and new products on the market.
Not everybody needs the same skin care advice, because the reality is–we don’t all have the same skin type, or same skin needs! Easy enough, right?
But what happens when you keep seeing the words “Retinol” and “Microdermabrasion” pop up in the media and among friends/family/co-workers? You start questioning whether you should care about these things. Clients ask me all the time about skin trends; it often starts with something like “should I care about Retinol? Is that a thing?” or a general statement of “I feel like I should be doing else something to take care of my skin, but what?”
It’s hard to know what’s right, when there is so much information to sort through out there. So, as we dive into the newest article in my Skin Vitals series, I’d like to talk about a buzz word we hear very often in relation to skin care. The word that I’m thinking of, is:
Most of us know that this word is often associated with dry/aging/mature skin, and that it's discussed allthe time in magazines and other media when discussing skin health. But what does it mean? I’m going to break collagen down into two very simple aspects:
- What it is + why we want it
- Where to find it!
What is collagen?
Collagen is the main structural protein in your body. It is what your skin and connective tissues are primarily composed of. The word itself has Greek and French origins: the Greek word kolla which means “glue”, and the French word gene. Collagen is your genetic glue! It’s what binds you together, and we are born with an abundance of it.
Why should we care about collagen?
One word : REGENERATION. It has the ability to rebuild and repair itself, and up until the age of 25 that process is rapid and smooth. After 25? Collagen production starts to slow down and isn’t as quick to rebuild in your body. Now you see why aging skin concerns and collagen go hand in hand. Collagen is much discussed and highly sought after, because it is what keeps us youthful, inside and out.
When we lose collagen, our skin doesn’t look as plump or firm. Cheeks can look a little sunken, jawlines can start to sag, a deep crease may slowly appear on your forehead from years of raising your eyebrows. Lines may appear at the corner of your eyes, from squinting or rubbing them when you’re tired. When healthy collagen production is happening, it gives your skin back its bounce & elasticity.
Can collagen be restored?
Definitely, and people do so in diverse ways, for diverse reasons. The most common conventional way to work with collagen challenges is using botox or collagen injections. Whether or not you agree with injectables, the fact of the matter is that to be educated on skin trends, we must examine both sides to make our own judgement call.
Botox or collagen injections for the face (not the same product at all, but both administered the same way) are used to physically fill in fine lines or to freeze the facial muscles to encourage the skin to stay in one place – getting people closer to their skin appearance goals.
On the more medical treatment oriented side, collagen injections are frequently used by doctors to heal ligament and cartilage damage for people who have suffered severe physical trauma (car accidents, surgery, etc).
These treatments aren't without challenges, however. Some of these treatments have produced severe allergic reactions, and even impaired speech or motor function. They are definitely not for everyone, and anyone seeking this type of treatment should do plenty of research to ensure a safe treatment.
Are there other, less potentially challenging, ways to restore collagen?
Collagen supplements and bone broth: Because collagen cannot actually be absorbed through your skin, we must ingest or inject collagen to physically supplement what we already have. Two natural remedies that are highly effective and widely available, are supplements and bone broths. Collagen peptide powders can be purchased online or at a natural food store, and can easily be dissolved into water or a smoothie. They also make collagen coffee creamer that can be used in your morning cup of coffee! How handy.
Bone broth is an amazing food packed full of nutrients to aid your quest for complete health and wellness. It is one of the best natural sources of collagen, and it’s simply a product of simmering bones and water over the course of a day or two to release collagen, proline, glycine, and a few other health boosters.
Not only does bone broth restore collagen health for skin related purposes, but it may assist in repair of leaky gut syndrome, ease joint pain, and have diverse positive impacts on immunity. Many grocery stores offer bone broth on their shelves now if you don’t have the time to stew it yourself.
What about protecting the collagen you have?
What about the actual collagen that you were born with, that’s still in your skin’s deepest layers regardless of how much you actually have left? There are simple, natural ways to stimulate natural collagen production in your skin.
Get a facial!
Facial massage nourishes the natural skin tissue and muscles in your face and neck, and flushes any toxins or unhelpful lymphatic fluid to drain from your face and allow for beneficial ingredients to do their job. Massage can send a signal to the deepest layers of the skin to get your collagen to “wake up” and start producing once again.
Skin becomes more full, plump, and regenerated, thereby allowing for healthy natural collagen production to take place quicker. Going weeks or months without a facial can leave your skin tissues stagnant and potentially inflamed, and inflamed tissues will always act out of emergency and never operate the way that they’re supposed to.
Seek out plant-based Retinol alternatives for your skin
Medically prescribed retinol (commonly known as Vitamin A) acts on the deepest layer of the skin, creating a “wound”, and the tissue acts accordingly and tries to repair itself, thus producing more collagen. It’s like when you scrape your knee, and you watch the wound heal itself over the course of a week or two. That is collagen, working to repair and heal the skin.
There are plant/botanical-based alternatives to the medically prescribed option
Two to know: swiss green apple stem cells, and tara tree. Both are two powerful ingredients that naturally encourage the regeneration process, to help spur collagen production. A few of my favorites: Eminence’s Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer, and Bamboo Firming Fluid, which both contain the aforementioned ingredients that spur natural collagen production.