THE ROLE OF COLLAGEN IN HEALTHY SKIN
Published March 15, 2023
Collagen is a key protein in our bodies. It is essential for maintaining our skin's structure and tone. But with age or through exposure to the sun and pollution, our own production of collagen and elastin declines, and the visible signs of skin aging appear.
Fortunately, this decline is not impossible to avoid, and there are many ways to preserve the collagen found in your skin. In this article, we're going to take a close look at how our cells make collagen and the various ways we can stimulate its natural production in our bodies.
SO, WHAT’S COLLAGEN?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals and therefore in humans; it accounts for over 30% of the proteins in our bodies and about 80% of the skin’s structure.
Proteins are made up of a combination of small molecules called amino acids. Each protein has its own sequence of amino acids. Collagen is special in that it largely contains the amino acids glycine and proline.
Until the late 1960s, only one type of collagen was known, type I, which is an essential component of the skin. But starting in 1969 with the discovery of type II collagen by Edward Miller and Victor Matukas, which is highly abundant in joints, research accelerated to such a degree that we now know of 28 different types of collagen.
These collagens play a vital structural role, providing their physical properties and shape to human tissues. Here are the most important ones:
- Type I makes up 90% of the collagen found in the body. It provides structure to the skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments.
- Type II is found in elastic cartilage and supports the joints.
- Type III is found in muscles and arteries.
- Type IV is primarily found in the different layers of the skin
- Type V is found in the cornea of our eyes, in some parts of our skin, in our hair, and in the placenta.
- Type VII is crucial to the structure of our skin.
- Type X plays a part in the formation of new bone and new articular cartilage.
Other types of collagen are only found in certain organs and therefore have very specific biological functions — sometimes only at certain times in our lives.
Elastin is another type of protein that works alongside collagen to help keep your skin looking supple and youthful. Elastin fibers make up around 10-20% of the dermis layer of your skin and provide elasticity, which allows it to stretch without tearing or wrinkling. Like collagen, elastin is produced naturally within our bodies.
WHAT HAPPENS TO COLLAGEN AND ELASTIN IN OUR SKIN AS WE AGE?
Collagen provides the skin with tensile strength and is responsible for maintaining its tone. It is produced by fibroblasts, which are cells found in the dermis. They also synthesize elastin and hyaluronic acid fibers.
As we age, fibroblasts become less efficient, and the natural (or endogenous) production of collagen declines. The collagen produced is also of lower quality.
But age is not the only thing responsible for this decline. The exposome, i.e. all the external factors that affect the skin, also plays a part. Of these factors, the sun, tobacco, and pollution have the biggest effect on collagen because of the high levels of oxidative stress they are responsible for.
This combination of factors causes the skin to become less supple and less resilient, making it increasingly difficult for it to replenish itself, which in turn leads to the appearance of wrinkles.
HOW FILORGA’S EXPERTISE BENEFITS COLLAGEN
To boost and preserve the quantity and quality of collagen in the skin, Laboratoires FILORGA employs three complementary strategies.
STIMULATING THE SYNTHESIS OF ENDOGENOUS COLLAGEN
In order for the skin to continue producing high-quality collagen, our experts include active ingredients in FILORGA treatments that are capable of having a direct effect on fibroblasts. These include, for example:
- Low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, which stimulates the synthesis of type I collagen to increase skin tone.
- Vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties and stimulates collagen production.
- Peptides that mimic those found in the dermis during the healing process and act as chemical messengers to trigger collagen production.
- Kangaroo paw flower and stem extracts, which regulate the way collagen fibers are organized to maintain tissue structure.
While these active ingredients all have a beneficial effect on collagen production, the ways they achieve this differ. The skill of our formulation experts therefore lies in knowing which compound to use and at what dosage, both to achieve the desired objectives and to ensure that it works in perfect synergy with the other ingredients in the product.
PROTECTING EXISTING COLLAGEN
Merely boosting collagen production is not always the answer. This is precisely why our treatments also contain active ingredients capable of combating collagen degradation or alteration by targeting, for example, enzymes that specialize in collagen degradation (MMP1s or Matrix Metalloproteinases) or glycation, the process that causes collagen fibers to stiffen.
Davilla rugosa leaf extract is a prime example of this type of ingredient, as it boosts collagen production by reducing glycation processes and inhibiting MMP-1s.
PROVIDING THE SKIN WITH COLLAGEN
Directly supplementing the skin with exogenic collagen (collagen that isn't naturally produced by the human body) helps to compensate for the natural losses that occur with age. The advantage of providing the skin with collagen is that it also serves to stimulate collagen synthesis in our cells.
At FILORGA, we use marine collagen, which has a similar structure to the natural collagen produced by our skin. This collagen has a different way of working than boosters or protective active ingredients, as it forms a film on the skin's surface that helps prevent loss of moisture.
The marine collagen we use is included in our treatments in two different forms:
- Non-hydrolysed marine collagen with film-forming properties that plumps the skin and helps it look fuller.
- Encapsulated marine collagen that deeply penetrates the skin to stimulate endogenous collagen synthesis and restore substance and tone.
FILORGA TREATMENTS THAT BOLSTER YOUR COLLAGEN RESERVE
Since its founding in 1978, Laboratoires FILORGA has drawn inspiration from aesthetic medicine to protect, nourish, and hydrate the skin of its customers. Our flagship ingredient, NCEF, contains all the elements that our cells need to function optimally while also ensuring proper collagen synthesis and preventing collagen degradation. Most notably, NCEF includes:
- Amino acids, including glycine and proline, which promote collagen production.
- Vitamin C, which is known for its ability to stimulate collagen synthesis.
- Glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that protects collagen from free radicals.
Cosmetic testing carried out on human skin explants has conclusively demonstrated NCEF's ability to stimulate fibroblast activity, with a 70% increase in collagen synthesis versus the control.
NCEF is found in all FILORGA products,* such as our TIME-FILLER INTENSIVE serum and TIME-FILLER 5-XP face cream, which also contain collagen-boosting peptides and kangaroo flower extract to help reorganize collagen fibers and maintain tissue structure.
Find out more about our TIME-FILLER collection
*except our sheet masks, micellar solution, and foam cleanser.
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