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How does natural and synthetic collagen behave in my skin?

We have become a society that has become very aware of our skin and appearance so continually question how do I stay youthful for longer? There is no miracle to reverse time, however there are many different products and supplements on the market today that can help to stimulate your elastin and collagen production to keep your skin more youthful for longer. By maximising the levels of collagen in your skin, the process of ageing will slow down and will act as prevention for the natural deterioration of collagen.

Products that claim to boost your collagen levels will contain a collagen but not the same as what our bodies produce. It will be supplemented with synthetic collagen or collagen from other sources such as plants or animals that will act in a similar way to our own allowing us to reap the benefits when using products that contain them.

Collagen is a tough fibrous protein that is widespread in the body and comes from the Greek meaning ‘glue’. It provides tensile and compressive strength to your organs and tissues and is the most abundant protein in the human body. Collagen is the major constituent of your tendons and ligaments, and it provides support for your skin. Due to the many tasks required of connective tissue, your body knows how to make at least a dozen different types of collagen.

There are at least 16 types of collagen found in the body so far that occur naturally. Collagen types are divided into five groups according to the structure they form.

The first five known types are the most common covering 90% of the collagen in our bodies. You find these types of collagen fibres in cartilage, ligaments, bones, tendons, organs and in your skin providing firmness and elasticity. Collagen fibres also help to strengthen blood vessels.

Collagen works in tandem with elastin to give the skin its texture, structure and ability to stretch. Elastin is a stretchy and resilient protein. Like a rubber band, elastin helps tissues return to their previous shape after they’ve been stretched. Factors such as sun damage and ageing cause the collagen and elastin in our skin to deteriorate, the elastin fibres become weak and disorganised, allowing the skin to droop and sag. Ageing also causes us to have less moisture in the skin; therefore we lose the suppleness, plumpness and smoothness that a youthful skin would have, causing our skin to wrinkle.  

Some of the different types of collagen that we can find are hydrolysed collagen, also known as gelatine. Hydrolysed collagen is usually found in the form of a supplement, either a powder or tablet when being used for aesthetic purposes. Animal collagen is another and can be very similar to ours especially that found in fish. This can usually be found in products as the structure of this particular collagen protein can be absorbed into the skin just like our own. Plant collagen is not like our own however it has some very similar properties which means that it can be found in products but is used for other reasons and or effects such as hydration. Lyophilised Collagen is also another type of collagen that is used mostly in diet supplements, especially the ones used for regeneration of skin, bones and cartilages. The lyophilised collagen can also be used in the production of some face-masks.

Every type of collagen in skincare products will have a huge benefit whether it be hydration levels being increased and acting a little like bubble wrap and keeping your collagen protected or it being a similar strain to our own and actually restructuring our invisible foundations.

The point of you having this knowledge is so you can make an informed decision about the skincare you wish to use to get the best results.