Collagen Across The Ages

Collagen Across The Ages

Everything you want to know about collagen






Pay attention, class. Collagen is the material that is responsible for the firmness and elasticity of our skin, and if you want to preserve a youthful look for longer, you need to understand its active mechanisms.


So, What Is Collagen?
OK, deep breath, collagen is a fibrous protein consisting of several amino acids. It is synthesised by cells located in the dermis, called fibroblasts. The fibres fit together in a network to support the tissues. There are around five types of collagen, which represent 80% of the connective tissue of the body. Parallel to these, there are also elastin fibres manufactured by the body, which are more specifically responsible for elasticity.

What Happens To Collagen As You Age?
The renewal of collagen is constant because it has a limited lifespan. Certain enzymes, called collagenases, break down the fibres into little pieces to eliminate them in order to replace them with new, young fibres. These are the enzymes that regulate the renewal of collagen by sending out cellular signals to the fibroblasts to encourage them to produce more. This auto-regulating mechanism between the production of fibres and manufacturing cells is very sophisticated but, over the years, it diminishes and runs out. The renewal decreases, the fibres are of a lower quality and skin loses its firmness. Damn.

What Else Do We Know?
The slow loss of collagen production is inevitable, but it’s also important to know that UV rays agitate the fibres and accelerate the degeneration of the skin’s support tissue. Scientists reckon that radiation is responsible for 70% of skin ageing. Hence the explosion of day creams with solar filters and anti-pollution compounds.


Along with hyaluronic acid, collagen is a key factor in our quest to turn back the clock. So what exactly does that mean? How does it help our skin look younger? Read on...

Collagen, Our Skin's Building Block
It's naturally found in the body, mainly in the dermis, our muscles and our bones. It's an essential protein produced by fibroblasts and makes up around 5% of our body weight. It's an omnipresent substance that is fibrous in texture and ensures that our skin tissue is cohesive, flexible and able to regenerate. It works like a mechanical spring and 'body glue' that form an inner scaffolding to support our face. Just like hyaluronic acid, it's an essential component that's also affected by the passage of time.

Collagen's Life Cycle
Collagen production starts to slow down from around the age of 25. Its decline is progressive and once we hit 40 a process called glycation comes into play. This is when collagen fibres become rigid and lose their suppleness. The result is the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin.

External Factors Which Damage Collagen
Tobacco + UV rays + pollution, this phototoxic trio is the main cause of damage to collagen fibres. On the surface, they are a source of free radicals involved in cell oxydation processes. The free radicals simply attack the collagen directly and stimulate the collagenases whose role is to destroy collagen. The fibres are damaged at record speed! The daily external aggressors are ultimately responsible for premature aging of the tissues.

Internal Factors Which Damage Collagen

From the age of 20, collagen synthesis diminishes progressively and the cell processes become less effective. They can no longer make up for the fall in production. As a result, the fibres produced are more and more fragile and their renewal rate slows down. The situation gets worse during the menopause because of the drop in hormone levels. In fact, oestrogen plays a role in the production of good quality collagen. Another important internal factor is stress. When we are stressed, we produce more free radicals (yes, them again!) which damage the collagen.

How To Boost Your Collagen Levels
Concentrated creams, injections, food supplements... There are loads of ways to boost our skin's collagen levels. Collagen may be sourced from cattle (rare nowadays) or fish. Whatever the case, the idea is to supplement the loss of our naturally produced collagen and delay any signs of ageing. Boosting your skin's collagen levels will smooth facial features, combat wrinkles and help hydrate your skin, helping you look younger.


Collagen is an integral part of our body's cells. It's also a cosmetic powerhouse. Here's all you need to know about collagen and how it helps our skin.

Collagen's Role In Our Body
Collagen is a protein naturally present in our skin, bones and tendons. It works as a kind of glue that sticks our skin tissue and organs together. It also governs hydration, resistance, elasticity and suppleness.

Collagen And Our Skin
Skin-wise, collagen keeps our skin firm, supple, hydrated and plump. It boosts skin tissue regeneration. Meaning it's a powerful anti-ageing tool. Unfortunately from about 25 years onwards, collagen-producing fibroblasts have a hard time keeping up. Which explains why skin starts to wither and sag.

Collagen In Creams
Creams that contain collagen help combat signs of ageing skin. It won't produce any miracles, but its natural lifting action helps keep our skin smooth and toned. It provides our skin with a supportive'cosmetic scaffold'. On our skin's surface, it moisturises, plumps up our features, reduces lines and wrinkles and redefines our facial contours. Our skin remain supple and elastic.

A Collagen Face Mask
Collagen's toning and firming properties make it great for face masks. You can find cream masks that can be left on for a quarter of an hour or so. For best results, give your face a scrub beforehand, so that your epidermis will soak up the mask's goodness. You could also try a collagen-based sheet mask. Simply place the mask on your face and leave it to work. Our tip? Apply any leftover cream to your neck and cleavage!


Collagen is an essential and natural part of our skin, keeping it firm and youthful, so it stands to reason that it should make up an important part of our beauty creams, too. In fact, this vital ingredient is the royalty of skincare solutions.


Collagen, The Queen Of Firmness
It is the collagen fibres, in the connective tissue of the dermis, that ensure the support and toning effect for the skin. It’s a protein with properties that repair body tissue but it’s not present in food – it’s actually the body that produces it. Unfortunately, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, stress, sun, infections and pollution all reduce the level of collagen in the tissues, but it is age that remains public enemy number one when it comes to collagen. This precious protein decreases by 1% per year from the age of 40. Yikes! This causes skin to slacken, and also can cause certain types of rheumatism because the cartilages are composed of 60% collagen.

Collagen For Your Face
So we know that when collagen decreases over time, skin loses its strength and elasticity, and horror of horrors, wrinkles will appear. That’s when you need to give your skin a little helping hand to encourage cells to regenerate and boost collagen production. Thank goodness those thoughtful skincare labs have developed formulas that contain collagen combined with other ingredients to boost the skin. The best combo to diminish wrinkles and plump the skin? Collagen plus hyaluronic acid. You’ll be hydrated and smoothed before you can say ‘needle-free solution’.

Article supplied & written by Marie Claire, part of Hearst Communications, Inc

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