Collagen makes up nearly 80 percent of your skin, and it’s found in the middle layer called the dermis. It works together with another protein called elastin to strengthen the skin and help it snap back into place when stretched.
Collagen production starts to slow down as you get older — and it happens sooner than you’d think.
“After the age of 25, we break down more collagen than we make so that’s why we start to see fine lines and wrinkles,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.
From there, you start losing about one percent of your collagen each year.
“Under a microscope you see fragmentation of the collagen network in the dermis — this is the hallmark of skin aging.”
Other factors working against you? Sun exposure and smoking. Ultraviolet (UV) light and tobacco smoke activate enzymes that degrade collagen fibers.
“These chew up the collagen and the elastic tissue, and as a result that can cause some sagging and some age-related damage,” says Allan Dattner, MD, holistic dermatologist and author of “Radiant Skin From The Inside Out.”
Taking collagen peptides orally, either in pill or powder form, is an easy way to boost your collagen stores. Research shows that collagen supplements improve skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles, boost skin hydration, and increase the density of fibroblasts — cells in connective tissue that produce the protein.
“Collagen peptides are used as an ingredient in products and have been shown in studies to improve skin barrier function and to help the production of collagen after 8 weeks of intake,” says Jaliman. “The collagen density in the dermis significantly increased so the skin became thicker and the lines were diminished.”