Don’t you hate when beauty companies make empty promises? I find it infuriating.
Years ago collagen became the new wonder ingredient added to all of our skincare products. Beauty companies promised to turn back the hands of time and keep our skin wrinkle free and firm.
I remember all of the advertising and even news reports about this wonderful new discovery in the skincare industry.
All of the attention to collagen resulted in a boom to the beauty industry as women everywhere began spending more on creams and other topical beauty treatments containing collagen in an effort to prevent sagging skin and wrinkles.
Years after this incredible skincare revolution, I read a tiny article in a fashion magazine explaining that it was all smoke and mirrors. Collagen added through a cream or lotion was impossible.
We had been duped and the beauty industry knew all along that they were fooling us.
Read on to see how you can naturally and easily increase collagen production through diet and your normal skincare.
Why is collagen important?
Let’s start with the basics. Collagen is one of the most important proteins in our body. In fact, it makes up over 25% of the protein in our body!
Collagen is responsible for the strength and health of our bones, tendons, ligaments and our skin. In simple terms, it is the base for the flexible fibers that make up our body.
Collagen fibers, as they are called, are the framework for the inner working of our tissues and keeping them working properly.
All of this makes collagen an incredibly important factor in the look and feel of our skin. It is responsible for giving our skin elasticity and firmness. Collagen is the skin’s support system and critical to its health.
Collagen as we age (ahem, mature)
Our body naturally produces substantial collagen until we reach about 30 years of age. Unfortunately, after 30, our body produces less and less collagen. Once we turn 40 in fact, collagen production can decrease by as much as 1% each year - which doesn’t seem like a lot until you calculate that by the age of 70 our bodies will produce 30% less collagen.
In addition to the natural decrease in production that we all face, sun exposure will further decrease the presence of this important protein. And so here we have arrived at the obligatory ‘Wear sunscreen every day’ moment of every skincare blog ;-)
All joking aside however, tanning and basically ever being exposed to UV rays without an SPF of 30 or greater will not only create age spots and freckles. That UV exposure will break down the connective tissue in your skin making collagen less effective.
Myths about collagen
Myth 1 Applying a collagen infused skin cream will help to tone and firm your skin.
As I said in the beginning of this article, this myth is totally false.
One of the most frustrating myths about collagen is that by adding it to a skin cream, it will help your skin maintain its elasticity and firmness. The collagen molecule is far too large to penetrate to the inner layers of your skin. In essence, when you use these creams - which typically cost more because of this ‘magical’ ingredient - you are simply applying it to your face and washing it off every day.
There is absolutely no benefit to collagen infused creams whatsoever. Period.
Back when I had my beauty center in Milan, I was meeting with skin care reps searching for products to offer to my clients. As one of these reps was showing me all of his products, he came to the collagen infused face cream that was targeted at the ‘maturing woman’, aka me and my age group.
I pointed out that collagen cannot penetrate the surface of the skin and that it was a useless ‘benefit’.
What happened next infuriates me to this day. This man looked at me, said that I was very clever and that I was correct. But with a wink and a smile he pointed out that because the packaging was lovely and the price to consumers was quite high, women would buy it for the dream. He went on to say that it doesn’t matter if something works or not, what matters is if she believes it will work. If she believes it will work she will pay any price.
Our meeting ended at that moment and I will never buy from that large cosmetics company ever again.
Myth 2: A collagen supplement can compensate for the collagen not being produced by your body.
There has been an absolute tsunami of new collagen supplements on the market. The idea is that by consuming this supplement, you will be compensating for the decrease in the collagen your body produces. When taken as a supplement, the benefit of collagen is still not proven.
The concept is wonderful - in theory. Research however still needs to be done as to whether or not consuming collagen supplements actually have any effect on collagen production. Factors such as stomach acids and the way your body digests the supplement raise doubts about the efficacy of these products.
Myth 3: Collagen isn’t very important for the rest of your body
In reality, this decrease in collagen production is not only seen in the fine lines and sagging skin on your face, but it can be felt in your joints and tendons as you age.
By consistently maintaining collagen production as you age you can avoid the uncomfortable side effects that lack of collagen can create.
How to stimulate collagen production
A simple habit of daily exfoliation can greatly increase collagen production. By manually removing dead skin cells, you are forcing cell regeneration to happen more quickly. This stimulates collagen production and keeps your skin fresh and firm.
But it is important to keep in mind that not all exfoliation methods are created equally. Many scrubs are far too abrasive and drying to be able to use them every day.
I created Clean Beauty Swiss all natural scrubs specifically to be used on your body every single day. With a coconut oil base that leaves your skin hydrated and glowing, I add gentle exfoliants like coffee, salt and sugar to gently scrub away dead skin cells without damaging your skin.
My best selling Coffee Ginger Scrub uses the combination of the caffeine in freshly groud coffee and organic ginger powder to increase circulation which will firm skin preventing cellulite and wrinkles.
For more information about why daily exfoliation is so beneficial to your skin, read my blog ‘11 Reasons to use a scrub daily’.
I always say that skincare starts from within. If you are not eating a balanced diet and drinking lots of water every day consistently, your skincare products will only be able to achieve mediocre results. One of the most important vitamins for your skin is Vitamin C.
It is a crucial part of the collagen synthesis process and without it, collagen cannot be effectively produced.
Vitamin C is in all citrus fruit so add a bit of lemon to your water, toss an orange or grapefruit into your salad. Other food with high levels of Vitamin C include:
- Sweet peppers
So get creative and jump onto Pinterest to search for some easy ways to add these delicious and nutritious foods to your diet.
This new trend is actually an ancient Chinese tool that is a soothing way to generate more collagen. The gua sha stone (often made of rose quartz or jade which are beneficial to our psychological and physical well being) is smooth and is passed over your face.
The idea is that it basically irons out tension from your facial muscles, relaxing them as botox would.
The gentle massage will dramatically increase blood flow to your skin, increase the flow of your lymphatic system and will, in fact, stimulate the production of collagen.
If you’d like to learn more about gua sha and it’s benefits, check out my blog post ‘Gua Sha the Natural Facelift from the Far East’.
MIcroneedling is a relatively unknown at-home treatment here in Switzerland. It is a small roller that is covered in tiny needles. Using a very light pressure you roll it over your face and the needles very lightly puncture the skin.
It is much less painful and uncomfortable than it sounds. I have been using one for about a year once a week and have never bled or felt too much discomfort.
The concept is very simple - when your skin becomes damaged, if you cut yourself for example, your body produces more collagen to heal the would. By using a microneedling tool, the hundreds of tiny punctures cause your skin to create more collagen to heal the wounds, which leaves your face firmer and looking fresher and younger.
Collagen is one of the most abundant and important proteins within our body. It not only is critical for all flexible tissue within our body, such as tendons and ligaments, it is essential to keeping our skin firm and resistant to wrinkles and sagging. As we age, collagen production diminishes every year from the time we turn 30. Once we hit our 40’s, collagen production is reduced by 1% each year.
While the beauty industry takes advantage of our desire to stay young and fresh, they continue to trick women into believing that applying a face cream with collagen will tighten and firm our skin. This is a myth and a complete fabrication. The collagen molecule is far too large to penetrate to the inner layers of the dermis.
All is not lost however. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle and consuming enough Vitamin C, you can actually stimulate your body to produce more collagen.
If you combine this with a daily exfoliation - using a delicate and natural scrub like Clean Beauty Swiss - and simple to use tools like gua sha and microneedling you can further stimulate collagen production and enjoy younger looking skin for many years to come.
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Sending love, Kate xoxox