What is collagen? It sounds fancy, can I eat it? Do I have it? Is it sprinkle-able? All very good and valid questions my friend *winks*. Collagen is a top 10, skincare BUZZ word of the moment, you’ll find this guy on everything from skincare to supplements.
So… what does it mean? What is collagen? And most importantly, is it important to you?
Let’s delve in dear pal…
What Is Collagen?
Did you know, of the 20% protein our bodies are made from, a big 30% portion is collagen? Fast-forward to your skin and it gets even bigger, collagen makes up a whopping 70% of skin protein. There’s a lot of it and it kinda keeps us together… not emotionally, but physically ‘eh.
See, collagen is like glue.
In fact, kindly, the actual word, collagen, comes from the Greek word for glue – Kolla.
Your collagen is like your personal supply of super glue.
Without it, you’d fall apart.
Heard of scurvy?
Well, that dear pal is what happens when your collagen breaks down.
Long story short. Back in the day, sailors would travel to lands far, far away and they’d get treated to weeks and sometimes months of vegetable, fruit free meals. A 5 year olds dream! There really is good reason your mumma tells you to eat up those vegetables *winks*.
Without fresh fruit and veg, sailors went into vitamin deficiency. One of those important vitamins was vitamin C and sailors didn’t have enough… when that happens, collagen can’t be made and skin literally falls-apart. Gums start to bleed, scar tissue opens up and black bloody welts form.
A great look for Halloween and one to avoid for the 364 other days of your year.
Collagen, Whozer – Tell me More…
How crazy is this, the first type of collagen you’ll find in your body – collagen 1, is stronger than steel, gram for gram.
This is your bodies version of Kevlar.
No need to invest, you’ve been born with it baby.
Collagen is dotted around your body. You’ll find it in your skin, your bones and all other kinds of connective tissues.
Collagen gives all these things strength and resilience.
When you’re talking about skin, that means plump, bouncy, full looking skin. Without it, you’d be looking like that red gobble on a turkeys throat – yes really!
— Cheryl Woodman (@HonestyForSkin) 17 November 2016
Why Collagen’s Important to Skin Health
You’ve got this question sorted my pal! Collagen’s not only the super-glue that holds your skin together, it’s also the scaffolding that keeps it bouncy and resilient.
Slept too long with your face a bit squished? Me too! Luckily, healthy collagen will have skin bouncing back as quickly as you can say the world’s longest place name, at 85 characters it’s not an instant coffee, depending on the time you squished for, it’ll get there *winks*.
What about the time you were little and your knees where best friends with a concrete pavement? Anywhere your body has a mini-trauma, collagen will help to glue everything back together. If you get a bout of acne or spots, it’s just as true!
Ever been wacked in the face/arm/side with a football.. even if you weren’t playing…? My friend, collagen is the reason you don’t have a football sized print as a memorial.
Your collagen, plays a really important role in keeping skin healthy.
When you have a lovely, happy scoop of it, skin’s able to heal quickly, and bounce back like it were a trampoline.
What happens to Collagen as Skin becomes Ageless?
When you’re a little person, you have a lot of collagen that’s very healthy… if a bit of your collagen pops off for a break, a new piece is manufactured in no time.
As your skin becomes ageless, collagen production starts to peddle downhill.
From the age of 20, your collagen production naturally slows at a rate of around 1% per year.
That means skin becomes a little bit less able to do all those things we just talked about.
This is the thing to know…
Your collagen production naturally slows with age. Yes. However, your collagen production can also be slowed by lifestyle and diet. Aka if you look after your skin, you can fend off the turkey gobble for many, many more years. Hooray!
How to Protect Your Skin’s Collagen
This advice is like hospital avoidance for skin *winks*… be conscious of these 3 things and your collagen health will stay as young and carefree as can be.
1. Sun Exposure & UV light
Sunshine and warmth are yummy and your skin loves their yum in small doses. A bit like dark chocolate. When you’re outside (or even inside!) and can see your feet without street lights, your skin is drinking up a type of light called UV (ultra-violet).
UV light is a family of twins, you get UVA and you get UVB – they’re names have you avoiding that embarrassing moment of speaking to one when you’re thinking it’s the other ‘eh *true story*.
1 of these 2 types of light goes deep enough to find your skins collagen – that’s twin no.1, UVA.
Most people don’t realise, UVA light is just as strong in winter as it is in summertime… oh and it doesn’t cause you a sunburn.
UVA light gobbles up your skins collagen making energy and invites the existing stuff to a mud wrestling contest.
UVA light loves your collagen, collagen does not love UVA light.
Protect your skin’s collagen health: By using sun protection even in winter.
- Looking for sunscreen? Try Eucerin 50 ml Sun Face SPF50 Cream, £12/100ml.
- Looking for Sunblock? Try ThinkSport Sunscreen 50 SPF, £20/180ml.
- Want to combine moisture & sun protection? Try FIRST AID BEAUTY Age Delay 5-in-1 SPF30 Face Cream, £30/50ml.
2. Your Diet & Sugar
Sugar’s getting a tough time recently ‘eh, known to be 8x more addictive than cocaine, you can’t avoid the fact… there’s good reasons to be conscious of your sweet tooth.
Sugar is also a cause of collagen ageing.
A big hit of sugar, sends your body on a roller-coaster sugar-high, that activates all sorts of chemistry.
Get the full story here: Why Sugar will Age your Skin.
The short story is this, too many shots of sugar pushes your body to make an ingredient called an AGE – well named ‘eh. It’s kinda accidental too, cus AGEs are actually short for a super-technical sounding name of advanced glycation end products. Yeah, let’s skip that *winks*…
The bit to know is this. AGEs stick to your collagen making it uber hard and brittle.
Too much sugar = AGEs get made = Collagen gets aged.
Protect your skin’s collagen health: By curbing your sweet tooth and powering up your diet with foods that keep your blood sugar on the straight and narrow. #GoYou
3. Do you Smoke?
Smoking is another huge enemy to the health of your collagen. Smoking slows your collagen synthesis and degrades what’s already there.
One study, showed smokers had on average 20% lower levels of collagen and a much higher concentration of ingredients that slow skins healing rate. Whozer!
Ever seen a committed smokers pout?
Those wrinkles just above the lip are caused by loss of collagen…
Protect your skin’s collagen health: By passing up the cigarettes for a carrot straw *winks*.
Dear friend, I hope I’ve answered your collagen questions… What is collagen? Is it important to me? How can I protect it?… is it sprinkle-able, ok maybe not that last one ‘eh.. if you have more, absolutely leave them for me in the comments section below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.