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What is collagen

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Collagen is one of the most frequently used words when discussing skin care, anti ageing products and overall well-being, and collagen function is often linked to the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of ageing. However, while the link is well-known, many people are less clear on precisely what collagen is and what it actually does.

Put simply, collagen is a structural protein, which accounts for somewhere in the region of 30 percent of the body's total protein composition. It is present in all of the body's organs and is the main component of connective tissue. Its primary function is to sustain and provide structural integrity to the skin, tendons and cartilage.

In total, there are almost 30 different types of collagen that have been identified, but 90 percent of collagen in the human body is either Type I, Type II, Type III, Type IV or Type V. The single most abundant type is Type I and this is the collagen type that people tend to be referring to when they discuss collagen and the skin.

Collagen and it's relationship with skin

When collagen is discussed in relation to skin care, beauty products and general health, it is quite often in reference to the role it plays in maintaining healthy looking skin. Indeed, Type I collagen is largely responsible for giving strength, structure, and elasticity to the skin and maintaining its youthful appearance.

This is significant because as we age, the outer layer of our skin starts to thin and lose elasticity. It is this process, which is called elastosis, that leads to the common signs of ageing on the skin, such as the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, or the visibility of age spots and dark circles.

In fact, collagen is so important to the skin that it makes up around 70 percent of its entire mass. This is why collagen is referenced so prominently by almost any skin cream or beauty supplement on the market. It is, quite simply, one of the skin's most essential components and perhaps the single biggest ally in the fight against ageing.

What Happens to Collagen Production as We Age??

As we age, the production of collagen decreases slightly. In truth, beginning in most people's 20s and continuing throughout the rest of their lives, collagen production decreases at a rate of approximately one percent every single year, on average. This also explains why joints weaken as we age, as collagen plays a role there too.

While actual production of collagen decreases, so too does the quality of the collagen that we do still produce, causing an even greater deterioration than there would otherwise be. The speed at which this decrease in quality occurs depends on a number of things, including lifestyle factors like diet and smoker status.

Regardless, however, people experience the double effect of less collagen and lower quality collagen, which can make the signs of ageing more apparent and make our skin feel worse in terms of elasticity and smoothness. It is this process which leads to fine lines, wrinkles, a loss of skin tone, sagging and so on.

What are collagen boosting products?

With the knowledge that collagen production is essential for maintaining younger, more healthy looking skin, it is important to try to slow down the deterioration of collagen within the body and attempt to boost overall collagen production. This is what collagen boosting products aim to do and research shows they are effective.

In particular, collagen products which are actually consumed have shown promising results in helping to improve the appearance of ageing skin. In fact, one study provides evidence of such products substantially outperforming a placebo and suggests that a supplement used in this way reduces wrinkles by as much as 20 percent in eight weeks.

Aside from consuming collagen supplements, many anti ageing creams and night cream and eye cream products contain collagen boosting ingredients as well. Although conclusive evidence of the body being able to absorb collagen through the skin is lacking, some of these products do produce promising results in combating signs of ageing.

Many of the topical and supplemental products produced by Sönd contain silica, which has been shown to boost the body's production of collagen, enhance the skin's ability to retain moisture, strengthen the structure of the skin itself and soothe inflammation and irritation. As a result, these products can restore elasticity and make skin appear and feel more healthy. And they are particularly beneficial for those with sensitive skin types.

Ultimately, while collagen boosting products cannot completely halt the body's natural reduction of collagen, or completely reverse the signs of ageing that have already started to manifest, they do have the ability to improve the appearance and feel of skin, and reduce the damage caused by natural ageing, free radicals and lifestyle choices.

Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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