Fact or Fiction: Products with collagen can replace the skin’s natural collagen.

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Realization that collagen is essential to healthy skin is commendable and should be noted before explaining the physics of the skin and the function of particular ingredients to bust this myth.

It is important to stimulate new collagen production as peak levels occur at age 18, then slowly begin to diminish. By age 30, an individual can lose up to 1.5 percent of their collagen each year.

Collagen is a structural protein fiber found in the body’s connective tissues. It is formed from chains of peptides that are composed of amino acids. It provides the strength; support; and combined with elastin fibers, elasticity to the skin. Unfortunately, collagen has a large molecular structure, making it unable to penetrate to the dermis and lacks any signaling components to stimulate collagen synthesis.

Even though collagen, as an ingredient, will not stimulate new collagen growth, its use is still beneficial. When topically applied, collagen provides humectant properties, making it effective as a light moisturizer.

Fact or Fiction-December 2017-Image 1When collagen starts to break down in the skin, the long protein chain turns into shorter chains called peptides. The body identifies the presence of peptides as a trigger to stimulate new collagen synthesis. The fibroblast cell synthesizes collagen, making it necessary to find ingredients to stimulate this organism.

Triggering the correct type of  collagen synthesis is important as there are more than 28 forms of collagen in the human body. Types I and III  are present in the dermis with type IV supporting the basement membrane.

To stimulate new dermal collagen, look for the following ingredients in skin care products: vitamin C; retinoids (vitamin A); carnosine, as it extends the lifespan of fibroblast cells, allowing a longer timeframe for collagen production; and peptides, which are chains of amino acids that send signals to cells to perform specific functions including collagen building.

Some of the many collagen synthesizing peptides to look for in products may include: copper peptides, palmitoyl pentapeptide-matrixyl, palmitoyl tripeptide-5, acetyl tetrapeptide-9, palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 (part of Matrixyl 3000), palmitoyl dipeptide-5 diaminobutyroyl hydroxythreonine (Syn-Tacks), palmitoyl dipeptide-6 diaminohydroxybutyrate (Syn-Tacks), palmitoyl tripeptide 1, and palmitoyl tripeptide-38. Growth factors (signaling molecules) capable of stimulating cellular growth, proliferation, and differentiation also promote collagen production. A few examples include fibroblast growth factor, Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGF-β), and caprooyl tetrapeptide-3, a peptide derived from a growth factor.

Several clinical procedures stimulate collagen including: dermal fillers, like poly-L-lactic acid; collagen induction therapy or microneedling; alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic or lactic acids; TCA, Jessner, and other blended chemical peels at superficial or medium depth; platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy, which contains growth factors that trigger collagen production; laser; ultrasound; radio frequency; intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy; and light emitting diode (LED) therapy.

The latest trend is taking collagen supplements. Before ingesting just any supplement, read up on the clinical data supporting its effectiveness. Remember that collagen is a protein made up of many amino acids. Confirm that any product being considered contains the correct sequence of amino acids to trigger a collagen producing response and combine collagen supplements with vitamin C, as it is an integral part of the synthesis process.

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