What's The Deal With Collagen & Elastin?
Your skin would be nothing without collagen and elastin. So, you should probably know a little bit more about what they are and what they do, right?
Collagen and elastin are constantly written about in the beauty world. In fact, we challenge you to find one, just one skincare article that doesn’t mention them at least once. Bet you can’t. And the reason is simple: collagen and elastin are two of the most important proteins in your skin. In fact, they’re present in all your tissues and organs... but we’ll stick with skin for now. Because that’s what we’re good at, after all;)
What Exactly Is Collagen?
As previously mentioned, collagen is a protein. But it’s not just any old protein. It’s actually the most abundant one in the whole of your body and accounts for between 70 and 80 percent of all proteins within the skin. You’ll find it just underneath the surface of your skin, in the dermis, where it’s produced by a network of cells called fibroblasts.
What's The Function Of Collagen In The Skin?
Collagen provides structure and strength to your skin by acting like scaffolding to hold it all together. Remember how firm and plump your skin was in your teens and early 20s? Yeah, that was all thanks to an abundance of collagen. It's also a major player in maintaining healthy cell turnover which rids your complexion of dulling dead skin cells so new, fresh ones can replace them.
The sad news is collagen production dramatically decreases with age and environmental damage. The sun, of course, is one of the worst offenders, but things like eating too much sugar, smoking and poor sleep all play havoc with your collagen. And these nasties not only affect how much collagen your skin churns out, but also the quality of what it does produce. Dang.
What About Elastin?
Like collagen, elastin is synthesized by fibroblasts in the dermis. It’s the second most abundant protein in your body, but it only makes up around 2 or 3 percent of all proteins found in the skin which is small fry compared to its collagen cousin. This doesn’t make elastin any less important, however. Together, they work like a fine-tuned machine to maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin.
What's The Function Of Elastin In The Skin?
Elastin is about 1000 times more flexible than collagen so, while collagen provides support and strength, elastin gives your skin flexibility and elasticity. It's what helps your skin bounce back into place after you pinch it, for example.
Skin loses elasticity as you get older thanks to a natural degradation of elastin, but those same environmental and lifestyle aggressors also play their part. This is why as you age and are more exposed to the elements, your skin can become thin, loose and saggy.
What Are The Best Ways To Boost Collagen & Elastin In Your Skin?
The good news is all is not lost for your collagen and elastin simply because you’ve hit the wrong side of age 30. In fact, there are plenty of ways to help maintain and even boost your levels.
1. Don’t Let The Sun Beat Down On You
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the sun is bad news for your skin. Like, really bad. We understand there’s nothing better than the feeling of the sun beating down on your skin, but the damage it causes is just not worth it. UV radiation weakens collagen and elastin fibers, causing them to break down way quicker than normal. And trust us, age does a good enough job of that on its own, so don’t let the sun make things ten times worse. Instead, always protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains at least SPF 30.
2. Get Plenty Of ZZZs
While your body and brain are asleep, your skin gets super busy repairing and recharging itself. Cells start to turn over quicker and collagen production amps up, big time. It figures, therefore, that if you skimp on your sleep, your levels of collagen and elastin will become seriously affected and your skin will never be able to live up to its full potential. Lack of sleep also produces higher levels of cortisol, the dreaded stress hormone, which breaks down collagen and elastin and welcomes premature aging with open arms.
The answer? Get your eight hours every single night and help your skin hydrate, restore and heal itself as you sleep with a super-charged treatment like our Retinol Moisturizer.
3. Cut Down On Sweet Treats
Simple carbs and refined white sugar? More stuff that might be temporarily good for the soul, but are in fact hell for collagen and elastin. And it’s all because of a process called glycation.
Glycation is when sugars in your bloodstream attach themselves to collagen and elastin and turn into ‘advanced glycation end’ products (AGEs). AGEs have no good qualities, but instead wreak havoc on all that lovely collagen and elastin, weakening them and making them become hard and inflexible. This makes your skin look dull and increases the visible signs of aging like sagging, fine lines and wrinkles.
Reduce your sugar intake by swapping out refined sugar, corn syrup, fruit juices and carbs for more protein-rich foods. Ha, easier said than done, right? OK, then at least try to cut down on the sweet stuff.
4. Protect Your Skin With Antioxidants
When it comes to what you put on your skin, some of the most effective ingredients for boosting collagen production and maintaining levels of elastin are antioxidants such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin C.
How so? Because antioxidants are essential for counteracting damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that are created by your skin after exposure to too much sun and pollution. In order to stabilize themselves, free radicals steal electrons from collagen and elastin which causes no end of damage. The good thing about antioxidants, however, is they have the power to donate electrons without losing their stability which allows collagen and elastin to go about their business without fear of being broken down and damaged.
Try our C-Plus Super Serum for a potent antioxidant hit of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide. Free radicals stand no chance...
The takeaway from all of this? Simple. Look after your collagen and elastin and they will do their best to look after you.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.