Apply, inject, ingest or drink collagen

Apply, inject, ingest or drink collagen

As mentioned in earlier blogs, collagen is an essential molecule in the fight against skin ageing. Many products prevent the collagen loss of our skin by lubricating, drinking or swallowing remedies that affect this process. But do they really help and what is the best method to combat skin aging?

What is collagen and why is it so important against skin ageing?

Collagen is a protein produced in the body that is found in the connective tissues in e.g. the bones, the blood vessels and the skin. Collagen is present in the middle layer of the skin, also known as the dermis. It lends structure and firmness to your skin. Collagen is produced by fibroblasts and broken down by enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). When there’s a good balance between the production and breakdown of collagen, the extracellular matrix guarantees a nice and firm skin. When more collagen is broken down than produced, the firmness of the skin suffers and wrinkles appear.

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Skin ageing is a natural process that starts around the age of 25 but doesn’t become visible until around the age of 35 or 40. The speed and the extent of the aging process is determined by hereditary and environmental factors (stress, sun exposure, nutrition, ...). The collagen content in our skin is also influenced by both internal (hereditary) and external (environment, lifestyle) factors. This means it is important to take both external factors and our genetic profiles into account. When MMP genes show mutations, variations or flaws, the corresponding protein may become overactive and start breaking down the collagen at a faster rate. This creates an imbalance that causes the firmness and elasticity of the skin to deteriorate faster than one would expect. In this case you are at a higher risk for accelerated collagen breakdown.

How can we boost the collagen content of our skin?

In order to boost the level of collagen in your skin it is important to both stimulate the production of collagen and slow down its breakdown. This can be done in several ways, some of which are more efficient than others.

APPLYING COLLAGEN

Although collagen gives firmness and elasticity to the skin from the inside, applying collagen on your skin will not help to combat skin ageing.  Why not? Collagen is not fine enough to penetrate the upper skin layer, or epidermis, and is therefore unable to reach its target: the dermis. The presence of collagen in your cream may help to hydrate your skin but unfortunately it will do nothing to counteract skin ageing.

Of course, you can apply other creams with active substances that impact the collagen process. On the one hand you can do this with products that stimulate collagen production such as a cream with the right form, concentration and composition in terms of vitamin C, or with a cream that contains signal transduction peptides. Read more about this in our previous blogs: 'The role of vitamin C in skin care' and 'What are peptides and why are they used in skin care products?' Another option is the addition of active substances that inhibit the breakdown of collagen. Enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that break down collagen can be inhibited by active ingredients.

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INGESTING COLLAGEN

Collagen that is administered orally is broken down in the intestines and breaks up into peptides, which the blood then transports to the skin. This stimulates the fibroblasts to produce more collagen. There are two ways to include collagen in your diet: you can opt for a collagen supplement or you can choose food that naturally boosts collagen production. Examples of food that can give your collagen levels a serious boost include avocado, red vegetables and fruit, fish (Omega-3 fatty acids), carrots, garlic and citrus fruits.

There’s still a lot of debate about the efficacy of oral collagen intake. In recent years there have been a number of studies on the subject. In 2013, for instance, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study researched the effects of the oral intake of collagen. The study revealed that after 4 to 8 weeks there was a significant decrease in the number of wrinkles as opposed to the placebo group.  After 8 weeks there was a marked increase in collagen type I and elastin levels in the skin. The study was performed on 57 test subjects (plus 57 placebo). A larger study population might deliver stronger proof of the effects of oral collagen supplements.

DRINKING COLLAGEN

Collagen drinks are also gaining in popularity, especially in Asia. They work according to the same principles as collagen supplements. You can buy them as collagen shots or as powder to be mixed with water. In addition to collagen, collagen drinks also often contain other active substances such as vitamin C, peptides and antioxidants.

Small-scale studies have been performed on collagen drinks as well. For instance, in 2014 a study tested the collagen drink ‘pure gold’. The study showed that 15% of participants had fewer lines and wrinkles in their face after 60 days and 39% had fewer problems with dry skin. Of course, these improvements could also be owed to other factors such as the subjects’ diet. Moreover, since the study was not blind (both the researcher and the participants knew what was being administered) and the placebo was not controlled, the scientific proof of this study is less convincing.

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INJECTING COLLAGEN

The latest technique to boost collagen levels in the skin is through injections. Injecting collagen directly into the skin circumvents the problem of permeation through the epidermis. An injection yields instant results that last three to six months. After that period the collagen is broken down by the body and the effect disappears. In other words, the effect is temporary and the injections are not cheap. Nowadays injections mainly use hyaluronic acid and as a result collagen injections are becoming less and less frequent.

 

So which product should you use and what should you pay attention to?

  • When applying collagen to the skin surface it’s important to know what your needs are: would you benefit more from the stimulation of the production of collagen or from inhibiting its breakdown? Or both? If you’d like to know more about your genetic profile and needs you can request a DNA test via the website. 

  • As for the oral intake of collagen: studies leave no doubt as to the positive effects of ingesting collagen. Still, collagen supplements in the form of capsules are probably more effective than collagen drinks. The capsule offers better protection against the acid environment of the stomach but further study is needed to confirm the difference between collagen supplements and drinks.

  • A collagen injection is the most efficient way of raising the collagen level of your skin since the injections are delivered directly into the dermis. The drawbacks are the price tag and the short-lived effect.

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Are you the talking type? So are we.

Book a FREE consultation

FREE 1-on-1 consultation via Whatsapp video call with our founder Dr. Barbara Geusens.

Ask any questions you have about Nomige and find out how Nomige is able to help you.

Other questions?
We are here to
help you! Chat with us or email us

Follow our story

Connect with us and follow the hashtag #MyNomige to stay up to date of the latest skin tips and news.

Follow our story

Connect with us and follow the hashtag #MyNomige to stay up to date of the latest skin tips and news.