Collagen is actually an endogenous protein found in your blood vessels, bones, tendons, muscles, teeth, cornea, digestive system... and of course your skin. “In the dermis, the middle layer of skin, collagen provides structure and firmness,” explains Barbara Geusens, doctor of dermatology and founder of skincare brand Nomige. “It is made by fibroblasts and broken down by enzymes. When there is a good balance between those two processes, you have beautiful, firm skin. However, as soon as more is broken down than produced, your skin becomes less firm and wrinkles appear. With age, your skin produces less and less collagen (about 1% per year less from your thirties). In addition to stimulating the production, it is therefore also important to slow down the breakdown," says doctor Geusens. Using a DNA test, Nomige can determine your susceptibility to accelerated collagen breakdown. An unhealthy lifestyle with lots of sun, pollution, stress, unhealthy diet and too little sleep and exercise can also accelerate this decline. Fortunately, you can also do a lot to keep your collagen stock up.
Lubricate and protect
Sun and air pollution are the biggest enemies of your skin and collagen in particular. Therefore, protect your skin daily with UV protection and antioxidants. Specific skin care can also make a difference. “Creams with collagen are useless,” says Dr. Geusens, “because collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the skin. It does have a moisturizing, but no anti-aging effect. You will find that with ingredients that stimulate collagen production, such as vitamin C, peptides and vitamin A.” This also applies to men's skin, which is, however, slightly thicker and has a different structure.
Healthy eating and possibly taking supplements
A healthy and varied diet, with avocado, citrus fruits, red fruits, vegetables, fish, carrots, garlic and meat, is said to boost collagen production. You can supplement that with collagen supplements. Doctor Geusens explains exactly how this works: “The collagen is broken down into peptides in the body. These stimulate the fibroblasts to make more collagen.”