It’s a skincare powerhouse getting so much buzz that you might think you already know everything about it. But this powerful protein has a way of keeping us surprised. Check out why we’re big on collagen, plus discover ways to get more of its skin-firming power—including supplements and foods, serum, cream and even a brand-new nano-formulation created in Japan.
Collagen is what keeps your skin plump, springy and elastic. This protein is made up of a long chain of amino acids literally holding your body together, by keeping your skin and connective tissues flexible and providing cellular structure. Collagen, which makes up 70 percent of the protein in our skin, can also be found throughout the body in bones, blood vessels and muscles.
“Think of collagen as a sort of lubricant,” explains Cynthia Beadle, licensed aesthetician and beauty consultant for Japanese skin care brand DHC. “Cells, tendons and connective tissues all work better when they’re ‘plump’ with hydration.”
Face it: our skin no longer has as much bounce to the ounce as it did when we were kids. Back when you were a child, your body produced plenty of collagen—your body was more flexible and you had the cutest, chubbiest cheeks ever. Now that you’re an adult, you want that same spring and resilience in your skin (hold the chub).
But as you age, your body naturally produces less collagen. When you combine that with other forms of stress like smoking, exposure to UV radiation and pollution, alcohol, unhealthy food, and club nights that morph into mimosa-soaked brunches, your cells oxidize (just like iron turning to rust, or an apple turning brown). Your cells then produce an excess of “free radicals,” which overwhelm the body’s natural repair processes.
“It’s a fact that well hydrated skin simply functions better and can defend itself against environmental aggressors more effectively,” says Beadle. “It’s much more difficult for free radicals to destroy skin cells which are properly nourished.”
Tiny, Potent Peptides
It’s all about absorption. Collagen peptides, which are shorter chains of amino acids, are more easily absorbed than collagen in its regular, long-chain form. Research at Oregon State University suggests that peptides can be a key component in the most effective skin care products because they help to stimulate the body to produce the collagen that has been lost.
DHC’s researchers in Japan have developed—and patented—a technology that delivers topical collagen in its smallest, most easily absorbed form yet: Dipeptide-8. Applied in ultra-fine Super Collagen Mist, Dipeptide-8 infuses skin with nanoparticles of collagen supported by trehalose, a moisture-binding sugar molecule found in desert plants, and glycerin, a hydrating and replenishing ingredient.
Drink Up, Eat Up?
Collagen supplements in pill, powder or liquid form are big sellers right now, with Nutrition Business Journal forecasting $122 million in consumer sales in 2018.
Some experts also suggest eating more foods high in antioxidant vitamin A—such as dark, leafy greens and sweet potatoes—and high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids—such as firm tofu and wild salmon. Bone broth, though popular (and tasty!), contains collagen, but it gets broken down in the body and its amino acids sent wherever they’re needed—not necessarily to the skin.
So Many Jars, So Many Choices
Collagen molecules have a large molecular structure, so when incorporated into creams and serums they can’t absorb into the skin to a level where they can replace all the lost collagen, says DHC’s Beadle. “However, collagen is fantastic for cosmetic preparations because of the long-lasting dewiness it provides. The appearance of fine lines is greatly improved, and fullness is restored.”
Super Collagen Mist is a game changer due to the extraordinarily refined molecular size of its key ingredient, Dipeptide-8. DHC’s line of collagen-infused products also includes Extra Concentrate, Revitalizing Booster Serum, CoQ10 Lotion toner and Astaxanthin Collagen All-in-One Gel, which has added antioxidants derived from micronized freshwater green algae.
However you add it, collagen has solid, proven benefits for our skin. “Applied topically, collagen creates its own barrier to hold intense hydration onto the skin,” says Beadle. “It imparts a silky, dewy feel to any product it’s added to and increases suppleness and pliability of the skin.”
Worth a try, definitely. It’s only the largest organ of the body, right?