Aging. You can't escape it, I can't escape it. It's coming for us whether we want it to or not, and no amount of crying, pleading, bargaining, or running is going to stop it.
But of course, with a little thing I like to call science, we can arm ourselves with some pretty useful information on what exactly causes aging and how to replenish a couple of very useful proteins: collagen and elastin.
For those that don't already know, I'm going to give the breakdown (no pun intended) of collagen and elastin for you and why it plays such an important role. Then, we'll go over five useful ways in which you can regain these vital proteins and start looking years younger.
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen is an essential, fiber-like structure utilized in the creation of connective tissue. This means it plays a role in your bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage.
Collagen is composed mainly of the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. While there are many different types of collagen, the five most common varieties include type l collagen, type ll collagen, type lll collagen, type V collagen and type X collagen.
Type I: This is the most prevalent type of collagen in the body and is responsible for providing structure to skin, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues.
Type II: This collagen is a peptide and responsible for providing structure for joint cartilage.
Type III: This type of collagen is found in large quantities in your intestines, muscles, blood vessels, and uterus. It's most often used in combination with Type I collagen for gut healing and improving skin elasticity and hydration.
Type V: Considered a fibrillar collagen, this type plays a vital role in the fibrillation of types I and III collagen and contributes to the bone matrix, corneal stroma, and the interstitial matrix of muscles, liver, lungs, and placenta.
Type X: While this type of collagen is a little tricky to explain based on its complexity and function, one of it's more important functions is new bone formation in articular cartilage.
What is Elastin?
Put simply, elastin is a protein forming the main constituent of elastic connective tissue, found especially in the dermis of the skin. Like its name implies, elastin helps to keep the skin elastic, or stretchy and resilient. As we age, we lose elastin, which makes our skin less likely to bounce back.
So considering that these proteins play such an essential role in aging (and potentially anti-aging) what are some great ways to restore collagen and elastin in the body? We're glad you asked.
1. Increase Your Vitamin C Intake
Believe it or not, but vitamin C is absolutely essential for the synthesis of collagen. Meaning a vitamin C deficiency most likely means a deficiency in collagen as well.
Another fun fact? Our bodies are not capable of making vitamin C on its own. That's right. So whatever vitamin C we have in our system, we gained through our own food and drink intake.
So while vitamin C provides immense benefits in the collagen rebuilding department, it's important to note that you need to be sure you're getting enough vitamin C in your diet to provide your body with enough ammunition to keep these functions alive. Some natural sources of vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits
- red peppers
Vitamin C can also be taken topically, and there are products out there on the market that are great for providing immediate vitamin c benefits directly to the skin. This includes Gin Amber Beauty's 10% Squalane Vitamin C Repair Cream and 20% Vitamin C Booster Serum.
2. Microneedling AKA Dermarolling
When you microneedle (also known as dermarolling), you create microscopic puncture wounds in the skin that trigger the body's natural healing response which includes synthesis of essential proteins like collagen and elastin.
Of course, it's important to note that microneedling needs to be consistent and requires needle lengths of 0.25mm - 1.0mm for the face and 0.5mm - 1.5mm for the body, but no more. Longer needle lengths may actually be counterproductive and penetrate too deeply.
3. Boost Your Diet and Quit Smoking
Something that a lot of professionals who are in the skincare and beauty industry forget to mention is that a lot of skin problems stem from our internal, natural processes. Eating an excess of oily foods is going to make your skin more oily, causing acne. Smoking or doing drugs or not getting enough water is going to introduce toxins into your body, making your organs work that much harder and eventually, as I'm sure you already guessed, the aging process speeds up.
Talking to a nutritionist is a great first step towards choosing what should and what shouldn't be in your diet. Being conscious, drinking water, eating more vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and saying no to pastries, processed sugars, and weak carbs are another great step to replenishing your body and getting it to restore itself.
4. Topical Serums and Creams
When you feel that diet just isn't cutting it, it's always encouraged to introduce elastin or collagen-boosting products into your skincare routine. Research products that induce cellular turnover and that include retinol/retinoids or AHA/BHA's.
Fun fact, retinol stimulates fibroblasts to synthesize collagen, improves skin elasticity (removes degenerated elastin fibers) and promotes angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels).
5. Collagen Supplements
On the go? Want something that's quick but allows you to boost collagen in a way that aligns with a busy schedule? While taking collagen supplements isn't as efficient as say, microneedling, it still has its benefits. Oftentimes when we want to boost collagen, it's because we're seeing signs of aging, wrinkles, fine lines, and a loss of facial volume. Microneedling, topical serums, and creams target a specific area, while collagen supplements simply increase your collagen levels, but throughout the whole body.
Weight the pros and cons of each of these methods and consider why you want to boost collagen and elastin and which one/s your feel align the best with your long and short term goals. Again, there's no one solution provided here that's the best; each person is different, each skin is different, and so it's up to you to discern what habits and healthy routines you're willing to stick with and begin incorporating into your life. Remember that it's a lifestyle, not just a quick fix. Ingraining healthy habits, both physical and mental, will support you much more in the long run, and your mind (and skin) will thank you for it.
Thank you Amber Babies for tuning into yet another blog post! Feel free to leave comments and questions and don't forget to visit me on TikTok, YouTube, and as well as on IG, @ginamberx, where I go over remarkably effective skincare tips, trends, and topics!