If you ever stood in a drugstore and looked for collagen supplements, you know that you’d be overwhelmed by a ton of choices available. For the past few years now, collagen has become an undeniable buzzword in health and beauty.
We’re only young once, but most of us would be pretty willing to go to some lengths to preserve that youth on our faces for a longer period of time. At the same time, nobody likes the feeling of buying something and feeling like you’ve wasted your money.
To help you break down all the scientific mambo-jambo around collagen, we spoke to Candy Chan, Product Development & Communications Director of FANCL, to find out more about this coveted substance and how important it is for our body.
- 1. Your skin layer is mostly collagen
- 2. Collagen isn't constant
- 3. You're over the collagen hill after 20 years
- 4. Some habits destroy collagen
- 5. You can get collagen in your food - but it's limited
- 6. Some collagen supplements don't actually contain collagen
- 7. Collagen is best taken at night
- 8. Start taking collagen when you see these signs
- 9. Collagen doesn't have to work by itself!
1. Your skin layer is mostly collagen
The skin layer is broken down into three parts, and the dermis (the one squashed in the middle) is the thickest. Collagen makes up 70% of the weight of the dermis, and is a strong connective tissue that helps to literally hold your skin together.
Some have called collagen “the fountain of youth” because it is responsible for making your skin soft, supple, and youthful-looking.
2. Collagen isn’t constant
Like your skin cells, collagen actually has a life cycle as well. It is constantly being broken down and regenerated, which is why “collagen regeneration” has become such a hit phrase with beauty treatements.
3. You’re over the collagen hill after 20 years
Bad news for us, though, this cycle starts to slow down as you age, or if you’re exposed to environmental factors. The magic age, according to Candy, is 20 years old.
“The dissolution of collagen increases by 1.5% every year, so there is a net loss of collagen year on year from 20 years old to 60.”
4. Some habits destroy collagen
These habits have become so vilified in pop culture in recent years that you probably could guess what these are before we mention them.
- Sunbathing or being exposed to sunlight without adequate sun protection: more sunscreen nagging from us
- Smoking: this is pretty self-explanatory
- Having a lot of sugars in your diet: we don’t just mean desserts and candies, but this also includes excessive carbohydrates. Say no to the ‘add rice’ option!
- Excessive fasting: lacking protein in your diet means your body doesn’t get the building blocks it needs to make more collagen
Regarding the last point, Candy explains that the collagen regeneration process is slowed down tremendously when you go on a diet, and this cannot be recovered even if you resume your protein intake later on.
5. You can get collagen in your food – but it’s limited
Good news: some of the food you probably have in your refrigerator right now contain collagen. Bad news: you may not be able to get enough collagen from them to make a difference to your skin.
Collagen is a really big molecule, and can’t be absorbed as it is through your stomach. It’ll be like trying to squeeze a really huge shopping bag through a small opening.
In a nutshell, if you want to provide your body with more building blocks for collagen, eating more collagen from natural sources will have very limited effect!
6. Some collagen supplements don’t actually contain collagen
As we just mentioned above, collagen can’t be absorbed by itself and has to be digested by the body.
To bypass the random digestion process, many collagen supplements provide the smaller building blocks that your body needs to build collagen on its own.
For example, Candy says that Fancl’s Tense Up Collagen Drink actually contains patented Tri-Peptides, which are very small molecules that is absorbed quickly through the intestines and go straight to work.
They don’t just provide the building blocks for your body to make collagen, however. Candy explains that these Tri-Peptides actually give signals to your skin to generate more collagen.
7. Collagen is best taken at night
Every night, your body goes through a healing process where it heals wounds and improves your general immunity. One of these nighttime miracles is the regeneration of collagen in your skin!
Candy stated that this “magic hour” for beauty happens between 11pm to 3am every night – but only if you are in deep sleep by that time.
“The best time to consume collagen drinks is after your dinner and before bedtime,” says Candy. “The collagen will reach your skin about an hour after you take it, so your skin cells will be rich in the nutrients it needs when you are asleep.”
8. Start taking collagen when you see these signs
As Candy had mentioned before, collagen regeneration generally starts to slow down after 20 years of age, but this differs from person to person.
A better way to gauge when you should start to take collagen supplements is when you see signs of ageing, such as fine lines, and enlarged pores.
Collagen helps to hold the pores tightly closed, so if your skin begins to lose collagen, pores may appear enlarged.
9. Collagen doesn’t have to work by itself!
Collagen is a fibrous protein, which means it naturally has a somewhat twisted shape that helps to hold your skin together and give it its youthful, ‘bouncy’ texture.
Taking Vitamin C, which is already an antioxidant by itself, also helps to ensure that the collagen in your skin does not lose its elasticity.
Some collagen drinks, such as Tense Up from Fancl, also contains Vitamin C in addition to their collagen-building tri-peptides for that reason!