What’s the main difference when you compare beautifully soft baby skin with adult skin? If you said the absence of wrinkles and fine lines in baby skin, we’ll give you that. If you said plumpness, we’ll give you that too. If you said both, then give yourself a high five.
Young skin is perfectly plump and free from fine lines, wrinkling, sagging and drooping, which all adds to the appearance of ageing - and since the dawn of skin care, achieving younger looking skin has become the Holy Grail of skin care products.
Sadly, a lifetime of exposing our skin to the elements (think UV rays from the sun, harsh winds, environmental pollutants and toxins) will have an effect on our skin. Add to that, the impact of stress on our skin plus all the other things that we put our skin through (not removing our makeup at night, partying too hard, dehydration, a poor diet etc etc). It all adds up to one thing - a change in the appearance of our skin.
Even if we’ve lived a pure life, free from cigarettes, alcohol and sugar and have never laid out in the sun, baking ourselves or walked down a busy, polluted road, we’re still going to age. It’s a normal fact of life that the skin we’re born with, isn’t the skin we’ll inherit as we grow older.
But the good news is, there are things we can do to slow down the ravages of time and delay the ageing process. We’ll never get our plump baby skin back, but we can have beautiful skin and love the skin we’re in.
And that’s all down to a natural skin protein called collagen...
What is collagen?
We might have heard of collagen in terms of collagen fillers that promise to plump up the cheeks and make our lips fuller. But what some of us might not know is, is that collagen is naturally present in our bodies already.
In fact, it’s the most abundant protein in the human body - around a third of all the protein in our body is collagen. We need it for normal blood clotting and wound healing and it’s a major component of our skin, blood vessels, bones, teeth, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
The word ‘collagen’ comes from the Greek word, ‘kólla’, which means glue - which also means it literally lives up to its name, as it’s the ‘glue’ that holds all of our tissues together.
There are four different types of collagen in the human body:
Type I - densely packed collagen fibres found in the skin, bones, cartilage (found in ligaments and tendons) and teeth.
Type II - loosely packed collagen fibres found in the cartilage that cushions the joints.
Type III - found in the supportive tissues such as the muscles, blood vessels and organs.
Type IV - found in the layers of skin to a lesser extent than type I.
Around 90% of all the collagen in our body is type I collagen and for the purposes of this article, and the fact we’re a skin care company that’s passionate about skin, this is the one we’re interested in.
Why is collagen important in the skin?
The skin is a complex organ (the largest organ in the human body) made up of multiple layers of skin cells interspersed with blood vessels, hair follicles and sebaceous glands (that produce sebum, the wax like oily substance produced by the skin to help to keep it hydrated and supple).
Underneath the skin lays a framework made of type I collagen fibres (plus some elastin, another important protein in the plumpness - or not - of our skin). If we imagine this framework as a sort of biological scaffold, it’s easier to see how wrinkles and sagging can happen...
The skin sits on top of this collagen scaffold, and when we’re young, it happily sits there staying plump and lifted.
However, as we age, we naturally begin to lose strength in this collagen scaffold. The collagen we do produce is less robust than the collagen we produced when we were younger, and we produce less of it.
If we now imagine this biological scaffold starting to lose a few of its cross bridges as the collagen weakens, we can also imagine that the skin is no longer as well supported. Where we’ve lost collagen, the lower layers of skin that are resting on the scaffold begin to drop down through the holes (remember this is all happening on a microscopic scale).
This then takes the upper layers of skin with it, and we start to notice fine lines appearing, which eventually turn into deeper wrinkles, and areas of the skin begin to sag and droop.
How to boost collagen levels
The process of losing collagen is a natural consequence of ageing and, as yet, there isn’t a way of completely stopping or reversing this process. (The closest we have is injecting our skin with skin plumping collagen fillers, which isn’t permanent nor for everyone).
Collagen boosting foods
But we can help to boost collagen levels. One of the most natural ways is to eat a diet rich in collagen boosting foods. Collagen requires vitamin C in order to be manufactured by the body, so filling up on plenty of citrus fruits, berries, kiwi fruits, broccoli, peppers and potatoes can boost vitamin C levels.
The body also requires two amino acids, the building blocks of protein, called proline and glycine in order to make collagen. Egg whites, dairy products, wholewheat, asparagus and mushrooms are all rich in proline whilst the edible skin of pork and chicken are rich in glycine.
If you don’t eat animal based foods, aim for ‘complete’ plant based proteins (that contain all of the essential amino acids) such as those found in quinoa, buckwheat and soya products such as tofu.
This collagen boosting diet also has the added benefit of being a healthy, nutrient filled one too, which is beneficial for all aspects of physical and emotional health.
However, a collagen boosting diet can only do so much, so we can benefit from taking supplements that boost our levels of collagen.
Collagen boosting supplements
Collagen supplements are available as hydrolysed collagen or collagen peptides. Both are designed to be taken as drinks, powders and tablets to help top up declining collagen levels. (There’s even gin infused with collagen!)
However, since this kind of collagen may not be readily absorbed and used by the body, we’ve gone one better with our Jump Start Silica Supplements. We’ve added silica to our skin supplements to help boost collagen production.
Silica is an oxide of silicon (we won’t go into a complex chemistry lesson, but if you want one, here’s more on the difference between silica and silicon). Also known as silicon oxide, silica is the form of silicon found in foods, especially so, cereals and cereal products.
Silicon cannot be well absorbed by the body, but when it reaches the low acidic pH of the stomach, it’s turned into silica, which is very easily absorbed by the body, or is more ‘bioavailable’.
But what does silica have to do with collagen and more importantly, the skin? Well, silica is important for the manufacture, strength and ‘stickiness’ of collagen and for the strength and elasticity of the skin. The stronger and more elastic the skin, the more youthful it looks.
Silica does this by creating bonds between protein molecules in the skin. So if we think back to our protein scaffold made from collagen, if the bonds between the scaffold are stronger, they’re less likely to break and we’re more likely to retain youthful looking skin.
This also allows the skin to retain more moisture, leading to better hydrated, and more youthful looking skin.
Finally, silica is a natural anti-inflammatory, which helps to reduce inflammation in the skin, an extra benefit if your skin is affected by conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Dark, leafy, green vegetables such as leeks, green beans, asparagus, greens, cucumber and celery are all good food sources of silica (which are again all good foods to be eating) but as we age, yep, you’ve guessed it, we begin to lose our stores of silica. This equals the start of the loss of collagen.
So by supplementing with silica, we’re giving our skin the best chance of remaining youthful and free from the signs of collagen loss. So what are you waiting for?! Snap yours up here.