Want to know the secret to achieving glowing, radiant skin? Healthy collagen levels. Collagen is a protein that works to maintain the elasticity and firmness of your skin. It’s also present in your ligaments, bones, and muscles and even helps wounds heal faster.
A high degree of collagen creates soft, smooth, and supple-looking skin. But by your mid-30s, collagen levels will naturally start to decrease. Reduced collagen production contributes to the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and saggy skin. A decrease in collagen can even create joint stiffness.
Luckily, there are a variety of treatments and lifestyle tips you can use to increase your collagen levels and improve your skin’s appearance. Here are seven you can try.
1. Use Collagen-Fortifying Skincare Products
A wide variety of skincare products claim to increase the production of collagen. But how do you know what works? Luckily, you can trust an FDA-approved anti-aging prescription to do what it claims. Prescription-strength retinol treatments, for example, work to increase collagen by encouraging skin cell turnover.
Other products, like hyaluronic acid, enable the skin to retain moisture and appear more plump. Skincare products that contain vitamin C can protect existing collagen levels from sun damage. Moisturizers that are high in peptides can also encourage the skin to create more collagen.
2. Protect Your Skin From the Sun
Unprotected sun exposure can lead to premature signs of aging, as well as increase your risk for skin cancer. The sun’s UV rays also break down collagen in the skin, prompting fine lines and wrinkles to develop. That’s why wearing sunscreen is so important. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher on the label. Such formulations are going to be most effective in shielding against both UVA and UVB rays.
But don’t just rely on sunscreen to safeguard your skin. Wear sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats to protect your face and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. Loose and breezy — yet tightly woven — clothes will likewise keep more of your skin out of the sun. And during the hottest parts of the year, try to avoid going outside during peak sun hours. It’s going to be more beneficial long-term to seek out shade when the sun is strongest.
3. Try Facial Massage
You’re likely familiar with deep-tissue massage’s benefits for loosening tight muscles and promoting relaxation. Facial massage can be just as beneficial for the skin. This practice originated from ancient Chinese medicine and helps stimulate circulation in the skin as well as drain the lymphatic system.
Increased circulation can contribute to collagen production and improve skin elasticity. Besides easing muscle tension in the face, facial massage techniques can reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It can help to retrain your muscle memory and tone facial muscles. Try starting with gentle, upward strokes along your jawline, neck, and forehead. Be sure to prep the skin first with lotion or a light oil so that you don’t unnecessarily stretch the skin.
4. Eat Collagen-Boosting Foods
A well-balanced diet is one of the best places to look when you’re aiming to boost collagen levels. Foods that are high in vitamin C are particularly important. Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, so inadequate levels of the vitamin will inhibit your body from creating this important protein. Try incorporating citrus fruits, tomatoes, and broccoli into your diet to up your vitamin C intake.
Eating plenty of foods rich in antioxidants can also be beneficial. Aim to eat foods like fish, berries, and green leafy vegetables. They will also aid your body’s collagen production and protect existing collagen from damage.
5. Take Collagen Supplements
You can supplement your body’s collagen production with collagen-boosting products. Most supplements are made from animal-derived sources, but there are some vegan and vegetarian options on the market.
One of the most popular forms of collagen is hydrolyzed and water-soluble. This formulation allows you to dissolve the supplement in coffee, tea, a smoothie, or just in water. It’s an easy way to fit collagen into an existing part of your diet.
6. Reduce Stress and Improve Sleep
Managing your stress and taking steps to reduce it is beneficial for your overall health as well as your collagen production. High stress levels will signal the body to release cortisol. That hormone can break down collagen and lead to premature skin aging. You might consider adding stress-reducing practices to your daily life to combat this effect. Try some simple breathing exercises or even desk yoga to lower your cortisol throughout the day.
Getting an appropriate amount of sleep is also beneficial for your body. Sleep allows the body to repair and heal, which includes producing collagen. While you’re asleep, the body produces hormones that encourage tissue repair and collagen production. Try to get between seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night to enable these healing processes.
7. Utilize At-Home Red Light Therapy Devices
Red light therapy is fast becoming a popular technique to combat a variety of skin concerns. It uses low-wavelength red light to target acne, wrinkles, scars, and other appearance impairers. This type of light therapy has also been found to help produce collagen and improve skin elasticity. It’s also safe and easy to try at home.
Red light therapy works by strengthening the mitochondria in your skin cells. It’s believed that by fortifying the mitochondria, the portion of the cell where energy is created, skin cells can function better. That includes the ability to repair and improve skin damage, which relies on collagen production.
Collagen is essential to healthy, young-looking skin, but unfortunately, your body becomes less willing to produce it as you age. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to give nature the assist it needs. Whether it’s something you put on your body or in it, or something you do to it, these collagen boosters can do the trick.