The Spa Spy blog

Spa myths and legends, part 2: collagen

There are plenty of crazy claims out there when it comes to collagen. Collagen can help your skin, but you have to be a little savvy.

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This magical protein is the main structural component of your skin, as well as being abundant in muscle, bone, cartilage and tendons. Collagen is imperative to your skin's structure – as you age, proteins hook together or change shape. As this occurs, these proteins stop doing their job properly. Along with the slowing down of collagen production over time, this is what causes wrinkles. Boo and hiss!

How can collagen work to keep you looking younger for longer? Here are the basic facts on collagen and skincare:

1. Collagen creams: Smearing collagen onto your skin, in any form, will not alter your internal collagen network. Collagen molecules cannot penetrate your skin, as they are too big. Topical application may help to moisturise and protect your skin from dehydration, but the benefits end there.

2. Collagen supplements: Similarly, taking collagen as a supplement will not leave you looking ten years younger. Pharmaceutical collagen, or collagen derived from animals or plants are a fundamentally different shape and size to your naturally occurring collagen and cannot attach themselves to your existing collagen supply. These "miracle" supplements often contain other ingredients like vitamin C or rosehip oil, which may help to stimulate your natural collagen production, though.

3. Boosting collagen production: When it comes to collagen, you need to encourage your body to make more of its own wonder-stuff – anything else is nothing more that spin. Skincare products can perhaps help boost your own collagen production. Skincare products cannot replace lost collagen by penetrating your skin with collagen molecules.

If you want to keep your skin dewy, fresh and youthful then, other than inventing a time machine and returning to your 20-year-old svelte self, your best bet is to:

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* drink plenty of water and eat healthily

* don't smoke

* get regular exercise

* keep your alcohol intake to a minimum

* help keep your skin hydrated with a good moisturiser

* use a high SPF all year round

* try to stay stress-free as often as possible (remember your me-time!)

There are very few guarantees in life but, if you feel good on the inside, you will, most definitely, look good on the outside.