Beauty products, supplements and even drinks containing collagen are infiltrating the anti-aging market. But what’s it all about?
Beauty products, supplements and even drinks containing collagen are infiltrating the anti-ageing market. But what’s it all about?
We asked beautician Izzy Jaffer and MedColl founder Roz Martin to help break down the need-to-know info on this all-pervasive protein.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals that makes up the main component of connective tissue. As well as giving skin its firmness, collagen gives cartilage its strength. Izzy explains, 'It can help those suffering from osteoarthritis if taken as a supplement for joints or arthritis problems.'
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What does it have to do with ageing?
'As we age, collagen levels begin to decrease, leading to wrinkles, loss of firmness, joint problems, and other signs of ageing,' says Izzy. The most noticeable way this affects us is in the elasticity of our skin, which tends to start sagging in older age – a process known by doctors as ptosis.
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So what's in collagen-based beauty products?
Collagen most commonly finds its way into beauty products in the form of hydrolyzed collagen (also known as gelatine). This hydrolyzed collagen offers the body collagen in pre-engineered, easily absorbable form – it’s tricky for external, non-hydrolyzed collagen to be absorbed by the body, as it's broken down into amino acid form.When buying a collagen-based product, Roz advises the following, 'The best ingredients that promote skin health and skin structure are marine collagen pre-cursors, hyaluronic acid, vitamins A,C, E, lycopene, alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol , seaweed or micro algae (astaxanthin) and isoflavones.'
Look out for these on the labels, and make sure they are included in reasonable quantity. 'You need to have the appropriate level of those ingredients to provide your body with a desired biological effect.'
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What do scientists say?'There is a clear and definite lack of independent scientific data for commercial collagen compound type products, which would include collagen drinks, tablets, powders and creams,' explains MedColl founder Roz Martin.
She adds, 'These products now account for a sizeable share of the market. However, there still needs to be substantiated trial work carried out by independent bodies for these products and not by the companies that produce them.'
It has been noted that the collagen molecules in creams are too large to actually penetrate the skin - therefore remaining on the dermis' surface, rather than rejuvenating skin cells. Roz explains, 'The collagen is simply broken down in the stomach by enzymes and excreted in the normal manner within 24hrs.'
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What else can we do to prevent the deterioration of collagen?Roz has a few key rules for minimizing the ageing effects of decreased collagen levels. The first? 'Always use a high SPF to protect the skin from UV exposure, which breaks down collagen - even in winter,' she advises.
Be sure to employ good skincare practice (that means 'cleansing and moisturising with mild cosmetics daily'), and eat a well balanced diet. 'A high intake of fruit and vegetables, which provide antioxidants, can greatly slow down the ageing of skin and prevent further damage.'
The no-nos? Avoid smoking, as this 'degrades collagen', and try to steer clear of sugar whever possible.
'Sugar causes glycation, an intrinsic ageing process that leads to damaged collagen and elastin. Opt instead for Xylitol, a natural sugar alternative.'
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Roz also recommends facial acupuncture, as 'a great non-surgical option for treating the signs of ageing on your face.'
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