I never paid much attention to collagen. Yes, yes, I know how important it is for the skin. It gives it strength, firmness, and a nice smooth texture. But it was always there. Naturally.
Not anymore. Every year, I lose a bit more (about 1% to be exact). And, as it waves goodbyes, wrinkles say hello! They’ve now started to appear on my skin. If I want to make them go away, I must find a way to invite collagen back in.
But can that even be done?
Yes. But not how you think.
You know all those skincare products infused with collagen that promise to replenish what you’ve lost? They don’t work. Collagen molecules are too big to penetrate the skin. So, they stay on the surface, and just moisturize it. How disappointing!
But don’t fret just yet! Collagen itself may be useless in skincare products, but plenty of other ingredients and treatments are not. Here are the best ones that’ll help you rebuild lost collagen for smoother, firmer, younger-looking skin:
They work by slowing down the depletion of collagen, something that naturally happens as we age, or when we spend too much time in the sun. They also stimulate the production of new collagen, which leads to firmer, more elastic skin.
Because they’re so powerful, retinoids can irritate skin. That’s why high doses are available only in prescription products. But OTC ones can be very effective too.
1. Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate for Deep Wrinkles ($65.00)
Rather than releasing retinol all at once, this clever serum delivers it into the skin slowly, over a period of several hours. So gentle! This way, you’ll get all the benefits without the side effects. You can read my review here, and buy it at Sephora.
2. Paula’s Choice Skincare Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($55.00)
I love Paula’s Choice products because they’re chock full of all kinds of goodies. In addition to retinol, this serum also features vitamin C and a bunch of soothing ingredients that nourish skin gently and help it look its best. It’s available at Paula’s Choice.
3. SkinMedica Retinol Complex 1.0 ($90.00)
I know, I know, this is so expensive! But it features one of the highest concentrations of retinol on the market, so you’re getting what you’re paying for. It’s also infused with antioxidants and niacinamide, powerful anti-ageing weapons too. The result? Brighter, smoother, younger-looking skin. You can buy it at Derm Store.
2. Vitamin C
It works even better when paired with vitamin E and ferulic acid. They enhance one another’s effectiveness and provide some protection from UV rays too. That’s why my favourite serums contain all three ingredients.
Like all the best skincare ingredients, vitamin C can irritate skin in high doses. If yours is sensitive, use it sparingly. Make sure it’s packaged in an air-tight, opaque tube too. Vitamin C goes bad quickly when exposed to light and air.
1. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Combination Antioxidant Treatment ($162.00)
As the first product to contain the powerful combination of vitamins C + E and ferulic acid, this serum has achieved cult status. It’s outrageously expensive, but works like a charm. At this price point, it’d better! You can buy a bottle at Derm Store.
2. Paula’s Choice Skincare Resist C15 Super Booster ($48.00)
Luckily for us ladies on a budget, Skinceuticals CE Ferulic now has many dupes. This one is my favourite. It’s well-formulated, properly packaged, and reasonably priced. It’s available at Paula’s Choice.
3. Glycolic Acid
Are you tired of hearing me sing the praises of glycolic acid? Hope not, cos here I go again. This powerful exfoliant does a lot more than getting rid of all those dead cells that accumulate on the surface of the skin.
It also hydrates skin, and stimulates the production of collagen. It’s not as effective as retinoids, which is why I use them together. Well, on alternate days. There’s less chance of irritation that way.
1. MD Formulations Vit-A-Plus Illuminating Serum ($65.00)
This serum features both glycolic acid and retinol, so if you have sensitive skin, stay away! But, if your skin can take it, you’ll see an amazing improvement in how it looks and feels. Get a tube at Amazon.
2. Paula’s Choice Skincare Resist Weekly Resurfacing Treatment with 10% Alpha Hydroxy Acid ($35.00)
Pretty much every Paula’s Choice product is infused with antioxidants, and this is no exception. It’s also loaded with glycolic acid and soothing ingredients to help your skin look its best without irritating it. It’s available at Paula’s Choice.
4. Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Collagen is a protein, so it makes sense that using (and eating, as part of a balanced diet) them can help retain it ad stimulate its production.
1. AminoGenesis Paranormal EFX Anti-Aging Super Serum ($69.99)
This lightweight serum contains 17 amino acids that nourish, hydrate, and protect skin. It’s available at Aminogenesis.
2. AminoGenesis Therapeutic Facial Repair Formula ($44.00)
I don’t usually like moisturizers that come in jars, but there’s not much here that’ll go bad when exposed to light and air. Like all AminoGenesis products, this one too is infused with a gazillion amino acids to help your skin look its best. You can buy it at their website.
5. Copper Peptides
Copper is essential for collagen synthesis too. When you increase its levels, collagen production shoots up. Problem is, when you increase it too much, it becomes toxic!
So, why am I recommending it? Because scientists have found a way around this. When you bind copper to peptides, you can apply it on the skin safely. No need to worry about any nasty side effects. Phew!
The most popular copper peptide? GHK-Cu. It boosts the production of collagen, elastin, and other components of the skin’s natural barrier; has anti-inflammatory properties; and helps heal wounds. Pretty awesome, isn’t it?
1. Kenneth Mark MD Antioxidant Hydrating Cream ($120.00)
This serum is pricey, but full of goodies. It contains copper, retinoids, vitamins C and E, and a plethora of other antioxidants that’ll help you look younger for longer. Available at Truth In Aging.
2. Medik8 Firewall ($145.00)
This one is even pricier, but packed with goodies too. Copper, peptides, antioxidants, niacinamide… It features all your skin needs to look it best. Unless it’s oily. Then, it may turn it into a playground for pimples. Sorry! Available at Feel Unique.
6. Genesis Laser
Let’s face it. There’s only so much topical treatments can do. If you’re in need of something stronger, and your wallet can take it, try Genesis laser. A 2005 study has shown it can help create new collagen.
Of course, you need more than one session (up to 6), but the results can last up to 5 years. The price? About $400. Consult different dermatologists to find the one who’ll give you the best deal.
7. Medlite Laser
An alternative to Genesis, Medlite laser does pretty much the same thing. A series of six treatments can stimulate the production of new collagen. Its effects lasts for about 3 to 5 years.
Again, shop around to get the best bang for your buck. But beware of deals that are too good to be true! It’s you skin we’re talking about. Don’t ruin it to save a few bucks!
8. LED Phototherapy
LED Phototherapy is another powerful treatment. It can repair some damage and boost the production of both collagen and elastin, leading to firmer, younger-looking skin. Best of all, it has fewer side effects than lasers. Unlike them, it is safe for dark skin too.
The Bottom Line
Lost collagen isn’t lost forever! With the right skincare products and treatments, your skin’ll look younger for longer. No one’ll be able to guess your real age!
How do you rebuild lost collagen?