As the skin ages and production of collagen molecules decreases, facial skin can sag and wrinkles can form. But you have powerful weapons to fight against the natural loss of this critical skin element. From what you put on your skin to what you put in your body, you can help build collagen gradually to maintain a more firm complexion.
Striking the perfect balance with exfoliation—whether you use facial scrubs, massaging facial brushes, peels or masks—means finding the sweet spot between dull skin and an over scrubbed, irritated complexion. Cell turnover slows down as we get older, so you should exfoliate to clear away the dead skin cells and to improve the effectiveness of your topical treatments, which can penetrate deeper once the topmost layer of skin is removed. While there’s no agreed-upon standard for how often, twice a week is always a safe bet for most skin types. Top off this fresh start with retinol cream that can help boost collagen production.
Get a Good Dose of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a natural component of healthy skin, offering antioxidant protection and aiding in collagen production. As you age or get exposed to too much sun, vitamin C levels in the skin drop. Getting a good amount of vitamin C can help protect your skin from this damage and stabilize collagen production and repair. When it comes to getting the most benefits out of vitamin C for your skin, topical applications such as creams and serums are favored over oral supplements or diet. There are many forms of vitamin C, but L-ascorbic acid (LAA) is the most common one in skin care and with the majority of research to back up its effectiveness. Some formulations may also be combined with other antioxidants to make the vitamin C more stable. Be sure to store these products in a temperature-controlled environment and don’t leave packaging open to the air in order to keep it from degrading.
Read Up on Retinols
For a topical face treatment, reach for another type of vitamin A: the retinoids derived from the nutrient. Retinoic acid, which stimulates the production of collagen, comes in prescription form while gentler over-the-counter retinol products have varying concentrations of the wrinkle-busting ingredient. Expect improvement to be gradual. Your skin will be more sensitive to sunlight during treatment, so don’t forget to add sunscreen.
A Shot of Help
Those dealing with stubborn wrinkles can opt for a shot of collagen from a dermatologist. This can include bovine collagen, human collagen or compounds similar to collagen, such as allogenic products. Hyaluronic acid is another component of connective tissue that forms a base on which collagen can develop. Getting injectable filler treatments may seem like a quick fix, but these shots may actually help your skin need fewer treatments in the future as the filler stimulates the skin to produce more collagen. If hormonal changes such as menopause are taking a toll on your skin, estrogen therapies can also help boost collagen, but it’s best to consult a doctor about this option. For those who want the plumpness of a filler without heading to the dermatologist, there are some topical treatments that are designed to mimic a filler and whose formulas boast smaller hyaluronic-acid molecules that can penetrate the skin more deeply than before.
This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.