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June 01, 2021 5 min read

In this article:

  • Collagen's role in the skin
  • What is collagen prejuvenation?
  • Prejuvenation in practice

Collagen's role in the skin

In recent years, collagen has become a sort of "buzzy" component of skincare products and cosmetic procedures. But if you thought it was some sort of miracle, man-made ingredient you can slather on your skin for a glowingly youthful appearance overnight, sorry to let you down! Collagen is and can do much more, but the trick is stimulating collagen production from the inside out, not from the outside in.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. Many people picture it as building blocks or scaffolding; it provides structural support and volume for all our connective tissues, including the skin. Many hallmarks of the aging process are the result (at least in part) of a decrease in collagen production. Up until our mid-twenties, our bodies are producing collagen left and right! Then, sun exposure, free radicals, and age start to catch up. Slowly but surely, volume loss and sun damage result in crow's feet, frown lines, wrinkles, sun spots, pigmentation, and fine lines. Now that the world of dermatology is much more aware of the importance of collagen for our appearance and wellbeing, we are able to take a more preventative rather than a treatment-based approach to aging. By using collagen supplements to increase our own bodies' natural collagen production, we can shift from skin rejuvenation to prejuvenation.

What is collagen prejuvenation?

Collagen prejuvenation started as a theory and now is rooted in scientific evidence. It postulates that if we can load up our collagen stores in our mid 20s to early 30s, we may be able to prevent or push back the aging process. Collagen prejuvenation is often called “collagen banking” or “collagen loading”. Collagen fibrils get packed into the dermis, plumping the skin and boosting elasticity. It's a pre-planning approach to avoid dermal fillers, botox, and microneedling procedures in the future; more collagen now, more collagen later when you really need it.

Increasing your collagen supply can be accomplished in many ways through skin treatments, preventative measures, and adding more to your diet. Here's how it works.

Prejuvenation in practice

While collagen skincare products have proven to be ineffective (the protein is too big to be absorbed by the skin), there are other "side-kick" products you can use to boost collagen as well as procedures that stimulate new collagen production.

  • Sun Protection:No matter your age or the state of your skin, if you haven't already added sunscreen to your skincare routine, now is the time to start!It's no secret that sun exposure is the biggest culprit of aging skin. Not only can it cause brown spots to form, ultraviolet radiation breaks down collagen and elastin causing loose, sagging skin and eventually wrinkles. Add a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to your daily routine, even if you aren't hitting the beach.
  • Tretinoin and Retinol:Tretinoin and retinol are two different strengths of retinoids. They are topical products that have been found to increase the natural collagen production in the skin. Many people use them for skin tightening and diminishing fine lines and wrinkles. The difference between tretinoin and retinol is that tretinoin is much stronger and must be prescribed by a dermatologist. Make no mistake, even though retinol can be bought over the counter, it is still pretty powerful stuff! Start out slow and consider speaking with a dermatologist before you begin. Also consider what you’ll be doing post-application as your skin will become more sensitive to sun exposure and may dry out or peel.
  • Dermal fillers: Collagen-boosting dermal fillers are an injectable procedure that instantly fills in fine lines and leaves skin looking plump and fresh. Over time your body will start to absorb the filler and build new collagen to naturally supplement the treatment. Other fillers use hyaluronic acid to achieve instant results by trapping water molecules beneath the surface, but the results don't last as long as a collagen dermal filler. Both of these procedures have little to no downtime.
  • Microneedling:Also called “micropenning" or “collagen-induction therapy”, microneedling is a minimally invasive treatment that stimulates collagen production by triggering micro-injuries in the skin. Then, collagen rushes in to repair and restore the skin.
  • Chemical Peels and Microdermabrasion: Chemical peels also stimulate collagen production through exfoliation and evenly distributed micro injuries. Similarly, microdermabrasionuses tiny crystals to exfoliate the skin and get rid of dead cells and debris. Both procedures encourage new epidermal growth and collagen production with more evenly distributed melanin.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals that can damage and destroy collagen. Free radicals are all around us in the foods we eat and the air we breathe, so consuming antioxidants is crucial. Rather than boosting collagen production, antioxidants can help to protect the collagen already in our bodies. Antioxidants are crucial at any age and bring benefits far beyond skin repair. Glutathioneis considered the body's master antioxidant and can easily be added to your daily diet without adding a step to your skincare routine! You can also apply vitamin C as a facial serum to help boost collagen production in the skin!
  • Collagen Supplements: Last but certainly not least, we have collagen supplements. Collagen can be found in the skin and scales of animals and fish. When it is isolated and hydrolyzed it becomes highly bioavailable, meaning that when consumed, it can be absorbed and utilized all throughout the body. When we consume collagen, it doesn't just go straight to the "collagen bank". It breaks down into essential amino acids, which then assist with our body's natural collagen production. So if you decide to undergo a cosmetic procedure, adding a scoop of collagen powder to your morning coffee may improve or prolong the effects. Many people also experience improvements in their skin complexion and quality after taking collagen daily for 4 or more weeks. It's a great natural and inexpensive alternative to invasive treatments and is safe for younger patients.

So is it necessary and is it worth it? It all depends. Many millennials are beginning to explore prejuvenation methods to hold onto their youthful glow and stave off wrinkles. For the more cost-conscious consumer, high-quality collagen supplements, retinol, and good ol' sunscreen is likely your best bet to both prevent collagen degradation and encourage collagen synthesis. This method also comes with far fewer side effects and risks. For the younger patient who wants to add a bit more umph to their anti-aging arsenal, consider speaking to a dermatologist about which procedure is right for you. No matter which route you choose, remember to keep it up! Collagen prejuvenation is useless without constant reinforcement throughout your early 30s and beyond.

Summary Points

  • Collagen prejuvenating postulates that if we can load up our collagen stores in our mid 20s to early 30s, we may be able to prevent or push back the aging process
  • Collagen-boosting dermal fillers are an injectable procedure that instantly fills in fine lines and leaves skin looking plump and fresh
  • Also called “micropenning" or “collagen-induction therapy”, microneedling is a minimally invasive treatment that stimulates collagen production by triggering micro-injuries in the skin
  • Glutathione is considered the body's master antioxidant and can easily be added to your daily diet without adding a step to your skincare routine
  • If you decide to undergo a cosmetic procedure, adding a scoop of collagen powder to your morning coffee may improve or prolong the effects



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