What to know about collagen blog post

What To Know About Collagen

What Is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It is the main structural protein in skin, hair, nails and connective tissue, but it is found throughout the body. It is the most common protein in our skin (70%) and its presence helps keep our skin supple and toned. It is also responsible for keeping our joints and ligaments flexible. Its amino acids (glycine, proline, arginine) tend to combine into long strands called fibrils which are very strong. Collagen is prevalent in the skin’s middle layer, or dermis, where it provides structure and support. There are over a dozen types of collagen, but the human body consists primarily of Collagen I, II, and III. Marine collagen is found to be rich in types I and III.

As we age, collagen production slows. Lifestyle factors like smoking, excess sugar consumption and exposure to UV light can accelerate breakdown. The result is sagging, wrinkled skin, graying hair, brittle nails and stiff joints. Therefore, although older adults tend to experience collagen reduction, lifestyle factors can accelerate collagen breakdown at any age.

How Can You Increase Collagen Production?

We can’t turn back the clock on aging, but there are a number of ways in which we can boost our body’s collagen production; 1) with collagen supplements and 2) with a diet rich in amino acids; 3) with collagen fillers; 4) with skincare products. We will explore all of these below.

  • Collagen supplements – with all of the hype regarding collagen powders, it’s hard to know which products will really deliver. Collagen is broken down in the intestines into its component amino acids, where the body takes what it needs. There are also concerns about possible heavy metal and other contamination from questionable animal sources. Finally, there are companies that make marine collagen available, which may have its own contamination issues. The supplement industry remains unregulated, so let the buyer beware. The best course of action is to choose organic powders that have been tested for contamination. Most effective is hydrolyzed collagen – or collagen peptides – which have been broken down into short-chain amino acids that dissolve more readily in water. These are often called collagen peptides. They are usually tasteless. While there are few studies confirming the benefits of taking supplements, many anecdotal studies have shown some benefit to be derived from ingesting collagen peptides as a supplement to a healthy diet. It remains to be seen whether or not enough human studies will be done to verify its efficacy. If you’re looking for a supplement to try, visit Organic Authority’s list of collagen supplements here.
  • Diet – A healthy diet can go a long way towards providing the necessary building blocks that the body needs to build collagen. Just as there are 9 essential amino acids that our bodies must obtain from food, there are also non-essential amino acids that are needed to build collagen. Here are some foods that provide these amino acids:
  • Glycine – found in meat and fowl (particularly the skin), fish bones, and dairy products
  • Proline – found in meat, fish, gelatin and egg yolks
  • Arginine- meats, dairy, pumpkin seeds, beans, peanuts
  • Hydroxyproline – Found in meats and sometimes used in skincare products

Clearly, by eating a healthy, varied diet, you can provide your body with all of the building blocks that it needs. Vitamin C is needed in order for the body to produce collagen. It also helps prevent free-radical damage. Zinc and copper are also nutrients essential for collagen synthesis. Citrus fruits, nuts, seeds, fish and other foods will boost your body’s store of these nutrients.

  • Collagen Fillers – If you have decided to visit a dermatologist, they will sometimes recommend collagen or hyaluronic acid fillers to fill in deep wrinkle lines or to address other skin issues. This is a pricey commitment, as these fillers are temporary fixes. However, a visit to the dermatologist can help you pinpoint what your skin’s needs are so that you can make an educated decision as to which treatments are effective.
  • Skincare Products – Collagen-boosting skincare products are big business, with many people swearing that they are effective at plumping up the skin. And for vegans who cannot find a suitable collagen supplement, it may be a viable method that avoids animal products. Whether or not they are actually causing a significant increase in collagen is up for debate. However, there are a few ingredients that have been shown to stimulate collagen production in the dermal skin layer:
  • Vitamin C – At the right concentration (10-20%), Vitamin C, or Ascorbic Acid, has been shown to encourage collagen production. In fact, it cannot form without it. This vitamin is also involved in tissue repair and protection via its antioxidant activity. It is highly unstable in solution, however, so including it in your diet is always a good idea. There are also more stable forms of Vitamin C. Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, found in our Age-Defying Vitamin C Crème, allows us to use less thereby minimizing sensitive skin reactions.
  • Vitamin B3 – Niacinamide has demonstrated effectiveness in promoting collagen production, as well as ceramide and keratin (found in hair, nails and skin). A 5% solution has been found effective at stimulating collagen production, resulting in less wrinkled, more supple skin.
  • Keratin – Many haircare products contain keratin, which when combined with collagen forms strong, supple hair strands. It is generally derived from animal products like sheep wool and silk.

Skincare products also utilize ingredients that work with these to exfoliate, brighten and plump up skin. For example, AHAs like lactic, malic and glycolic acids are used to help exfoliate and brighten skin. (Choose pure glycolic acid, not a combination product.) Hyaluronic acid and glycerin work by drawing moisture into cells, thereby plumping them up. Some experimentation is required in order for you to find which ingredients work for you and whether or not your skin is sensitive to them. Try them one at a time so that you will know which one works and which one you should eliminate. With a little trial and error, you can find the product(s) that provide your skin with desired benefits.

Want to check out our Age Defying Face Creme? Click here.


Tips for Soft Healthy Lips Blog Post

Tips for Soft Healthy Lips

Tips for Soft Healthy Lips

In honor of National Lipstick Day, we’d like to provide some tips on maintaining soft, healthy, kissable lips. After all, they are a prominent form of expression and one of our erogenous zones. With a little extra care, they can remain softer, smoother and healthy for life. But first, let’s learn a little more about this important part of our anatomy.

Facts About Our Lips

The lips consist of three major components – the labius superium oris, the labius inferium oris, and the vermillion border (the outermost margins of the lips). The main muscle that moves the lips is the Obicularis oris muscle. The unique features of the lips include:

  • The skin is very thin compared with the rest of the body.
  • The lips do not have hair follicles or sweat glands. In this way they are similar to the soles of our feet and the palms of our hands.
  • The lips do not have oil glands, so they dry out more quickly than the rest of the body.
  • The lips are very sensitive to touch, warmth and cold.
  • Lips tend to have fewer malanocytes than the rest of the body, which allows blood vessels underneath to give them a pinkish hue.
  • Lips tend to get thinner as we age, due to the decreased production of collagen.
  • How To Care For Our Lips

    Because of these unique properties, it is important to protect our lips from the effects of the environment, harsh chemicals, and sunlight. The same environmental forces that can cause our skin to age is magnified on our lips. Hear are a few ways that you can keep your lips soft and healthy:

  • Moisturize regularly. Without oil glands, our lips are especially prone to drying and cracking. A moisturizing shea butter lip balm or other barrier balm can go a long way towards trapping moisture to prevent cracking.
  • Avoid products that can dry lips out, like alcohol, camphor, phenols, menthol, perfumes, salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid (which in low humidity can pull moisture from your lips).
  • Rethink using products that don’t actually moisturize like 100% petroleum jelly (which is highly refined and may contain other contaminants) and mineral oil. Choose moisturizing, penetrating oils like shea, olive and coconut oil instead with a natural wax like candelilla instead.
  • Exfoliate lips gently, especially during the winter months. The skin on the lips sheds, too, and regular exfoliation with a gentle scrub or a washcloth can help maintain a smooth appearance and helps lip care products absorb better.
  • Wear a sunscreen on your lips! Of course, it’s wise to wear sunscreen on all exposed areas when we’re outdoors, but the lips are especially vulnerable. A barrier sunscreen containing zinc or titanium oxide is best.
  • If you smoke, stop. After sun exposure, nothing ages skin more than smoking. It accelerates the breakdown of collagen and causes our skin to age prematurely. For the same reason, avoid excess sugar in the diet.
  • Use products that are proven to enhance collagen production. The jury is still out on whether or not supplements and powders can improve the skin. However, ingredients like antioxidants, peptides and ingredients like niacinamide have been shown to help with collagen production. For example, our Age-Defying Vitamin C Face Creme contains both antioxidants and niacinamide without the high price tag of other Vitamin C creams.
  • Stay hydrated. The same thing that can dry your skin also dries out your lips. If you suffer from chronically dry skin, lips, hair and nails, then it’s time to drink more water.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Foods rich in collagen precursors like glycine and proline include foods like fish, dark leafy greens, beans, cabbage, bananas and many other foods. Eating foods rich in these amino acids help the body maintain healthy skin, hair and yes, lips too.
  • Don’t lick your lips! It’s tempting to do when lips are cracked, but it only speeds dehydration.

    In addition to these tips, we also recommend that you read labels before applying any product to your lips. Many lipsticks, for example, contain synthetic dyes, lead, and other ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction or worse. After all, many of the products that we put on our lips can end up in our bodies. Let’s make certain that they are products that won’t do more harm than good. So pucker up and be smart about your lip health!

    Huffington Post article about lip facts
    Wikipedia article on lip anatomy

Niacinamide and its benefits

Niacinamide And Its Benefits

Niacinamide and Its Benefits

Niacinamide – also known as Vitamin B3 or Nicotinic Acid – has been touted of late as something of a skincare panacea. There is good reason for this hype, however. We all know the benefits to be derived from getting enough B vitamins in one’s diet. They help to convert the ingredients in food into fuel for our bodies, among other things. So why include Niacinamide in your skincare routine? The ability of many vitamins like Vitamin C to protect our skin from harmful oxidation is not to be minimized. Niacinamide functions in similar fashion. But its greatest benefit lies in its ability to minimize hyperpigmentation. This condition can be brought on by too much sun, acne scars and hormone changes, and it can afflict anyone whether they are light or dark-skinned. Improvement tends to be gradual and without disruption of the skin’s natural acid mantle, making it a good alternative to irritating chemical peels. It is also a more affordable alternative to laser treatments. Niacinamide can also help to balance oil production in persons who are acne-prone by reducing excess sebum production. This can make your pores appear smaller (although actual pore size is genetically determined). Clinical studies have also shown it to minimize the appearance of fine lines. It’s especially good for persons with skin issues due to the overuse of products or chemical peels. By helping to restore the skin’s natural acid mantle, it can help to soothe troubled skin. So what’s not to like about Niacinamide? The ideal concentration in skincare products is 10%. If you’re looking to try a product containing Niacinamide, why not try our Whole Earth Body Actives Age Defying Vitamin C Face Creme. In addition to using a gentler form of Vitamin C, it contains Niacinamide which adds its antioxidant benefits to a light gel-like formula that can be used day and night.

The Beauty Issue 8 reasons to use Niacinamide
Dermatology Times article on Niacinamide