Collagen is a protein that gives the skin elasticity and strength. It is found in muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and skin, and makes up 40% of all proteins in our body.
It is created in the skin by fibroblasts, cells that are located in the third layer of the skin (dermis) which are also producing elastin and hyaluronic acid.
Fibroblast activation leads to higher collagen production, and these cells can be stimulated mechanically as well as chemically.
Although there are more than 16 types of collagen, the first three are the most important:
- Type I collagen – makes up 90% of collagen and provides strong bonds between cells
- Type II collagen – provides elastin
- Type III collagen – provides the integrity for the organs in which it is located.
After the period of adolescence, collagen production decreases by 1 to 1.5% every year, so from the twenties to the eighties the production lowers by as much as 67%. In the postmenopausal period in women, collagen loss increases to 2.1% per year.
With the loss of collagen, the skin becomes thinner, wrinkled, less elastic, dry.
Signs of collagen loss are reflected in many organs and with different symptoms:
- Loss of skin strength
- The appearance of the first wrinkles
- Lifelessness of hair and its thinning
- Mild joint pain
- Easy weight gain
- Easy bruising
External and internal factors jointly affect the rate of skin aging and the loss of collagen in the body. Internal factors are related to hormonal status, age and genetic predisposition.
External factors are life habits and environment. Smoking, pollution and sun exposure, stress, alcohol consumption, restrictive diets and many others factors release a large amount of free radicals, which damage fibroblasts and speed up skin aging.
There are several ways to slow down collagen loss.
Supplementation comes first.
Numerous studies have been conducted on the effect of certain supplements on slowing down aging.
The intake of collagen peptides as a supplement enables their travel to every cell and facilitates the synthesis of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid by fibroblasts. On the other hand, the intake of collagen peptides reduces the activity of enzymes that break down collagen and damage fibroblasts. The consequence of this process is better hydration of the skin as well as wrinkle reduction. The results of supplementation are visible in 4 weeks from the beginning of the therapy, and unfortunately they disappear very soon after the end of collagen peptides intake.
Astaxanthin, beta-carotene, vitamin D3, Ceramides, Vitamin B3 and B6, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10 significantly help stimulate collagen production. Any substance that is a powerful antioxidant reduces the effect of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is the process of releasing free radicals caused by environmental influences. All these substances can also be used in creams, but then their effect is somewhat weaker.
Hydrolysed collagen as well as the mentioned antioxidants are exposed to strong acid and enzymes in the intestines. They go through the process of hydrolysis or fragmentation so that they can reach the cells through the bloodstream. It is known that only 10% of the ingested collagen reaches the cells as hydrolysed collagen and 90% is converted into amino acids. When using liquid collagen, the absorption takes 20 minutes, and when using solid collagen, it takes several hours. Amino acids and hydrolysed collagen strongly stimulate fibroblasts to produce new collagen.
Collagen in creams has no effect on fibroblasts, so it is debatable what effect it has on the production of collagen in the skin.
Collagen and skin and face treatments
Activation of fibroblasts leads to higher collagen production and this is the ultimate goal of various mechanical and chemical treatments.
Laser treatments use thermal energy and thus stimulate fibroblast activation.
The most intense stimulation is the CO2 laser, which passes the full depth of the skin and easily reaches the last layer of the skin in which fibroblasts are located. With controlled burns, it enables the production of collagen, which is 3 to 5 times higher than with any other laser.
Non-ablative lasers develop the temperature in the aqueous structures of the skin, which is certainly most present in the papillary dermis or the third layer.
Chemical peels remove the surface layer and fibroblasts must repair it.
Dermapen with hundreds of stitches activates the cascade of skin recovery mechanisms, increasing the amount of collagen.
Radiofrequency lifting uses powerful radio waves to warm the deeper layers of the skin and stimulate collagen.
Rejuvenation treatments should be started after the age of 30, when the process of reduced collagen production and gradual loss of the skin elasticity begin.
- Quantification of type I and III collagen content in normal human skin in different age groups – Yan-Hua Rong 1, Gun-An Zhang, Cheng Wang, Fang-Gang Ning
- Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study – E Proksch 1, D Segger, J Degwert, M Schunck, V Zague, S Oesser
- Beneficial effects of food supplements based on hydrolyzed collagen for skin care – Mihaela‑Adi Lupu Gratiela Gradisteanu Pircalabioru Mariana‑Carmen Chifiriuc Radu Albulescu Cristiana Tanase