Collagen is one of the essential building blocks to smooth, healthy skin, but as we age, collagen diminishes, eventually leading to fine lines and loss of volume. It sucks, we know, but we also have some great tips on how to boost collagen levels in your skin and retain what you’ve got.
We asked Austin-based cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Steven Zimmet, who works with some of the biggest celebrities and high-profile names in the area, for his best tips for boosting and retaining collagen.
Practice safe sunning
One of the best ways to retain collagen is to protect skin from the sun, so it’s important to apply sunscreen daily. “Ultraviolet radiation from the sun increases skin cancer risk and aging of the skin, including age spots, broken capillaries, wrinkles and coarsening of the skin,” says Zimmet. “Probably about 80 percent of our skin aging is due to the effects of the sun.” He also suggests wearing a large brim hat and protective clothing to further minimize damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Avoid tanning beds
We hope that no one is still risking their health by using tanning beds, but if you are, stop for the sake of your skin. “Although they don’t use UVB rays, and thus sunburns are avoided, the UVA rays they do use penetrate more deeply, and contribute to both skin cancer risk and aging of the skin,” explains Zimmet.
What you eat can play a significant role in your skin health and your skin’s ability to retain and create new collagen, says Zimmet. “A diet high in antioxidants, fruits and vegetables, is a fundamental way to preserve our collagen and other tissues, and improve our ability to make new collagen,” he explains.
If you haven’t resolved to stop smoking yet, we suggest you do — for your health and your skin. “Avoid smoking, which contributes to collagen degradation as well as reducing the ability to make new collagen,” says Zimmet.
Apply a good topical antioxidant
We know eating foods rich in antioxidants can be good for the skin but you can also apply them topically (think products containing vitamins C and E). ”There is strong evidence that a good topical antioxidant reduces the injury effects of ultraviolet rays that get through a sunscreen, and some UV rays always gets through a sunscreen,” explains Zimmet.
One of the best ways to reduce the signs of aging and restore collagen is with retinoids. “Retinoids boost collagen production, and diminish fine lines and age spots,” says Zimmet. “There is probably more evidence that these are effective at reducing signs of aging than any other ‘anti-aging’ cream.”
Think about Botox
While Botox won’t increase collagen, it helps preserve your existing collagen, says Zimmet. “The muscular contractions used to make expressions crunch and damage collagen over time,” he explains. “Since Botox relaxes muscles of facial expression in the crow’s feet, forehead and frown areas, there is less damage to existing collagen.”
Look into ultherapy
A non-surgical way to lift, tighten and tone skin, ultherapy uses high intensity ultrasound to tighten existing collagen and boost new collagen production, explains Zimmet. The procedure is non-invasive and is sometimes referred to as a “non-surgical facelift.”
Try radiofrequency treatment
Another non-surgical way to fight the signs of aging and keep skin looking younger is radiofrequency treatment. “This treatment delivers radiofrequency energy to the lower layers of the skin to tighten collagen and stimulate new collagen formation,” explains Zimmet.
Fractional laser resurfacing
If you’re looking to improve the appearance of your skin, this treatment could be for you. “It’s a laser treatment to tighten skin, boost collagen production to reduce fine lines, acne scars and reduce splotchy sun-damaged pigmentation,” says Zimmet.