You may have noticed that when people talk about premature aging and anti-aging skin care measures, two words often come up: collagen and elastin. While both collagen and elastin are proteins that exist in the human body, each plays a very different role. Here’s a quick rundown of these two pillars of youthful, healthy skin.
Collagen & Skin Care
Collagen is the natural protein found in your body that serves as a foundation for your skin, tendons, muscles, and bones. Collagen keeps these components of your body firmly connected and is the framework for cellular growth, regeneration, and health. When collagen breaks down, so does the framework. This not only leads to skin that sags and appears wrinkled, but it also lessens the structure in which cellular health is promoted.
Our bodies naturally produce less collagen as we age, but we can adopt certain skin care strategies that help protect this all-important anchor for our skin. One of the most important ways to care for your collagen is to shield skin from the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet rays damage proteins, such as collagen. This damage is not always seen right away. Younger people may not notice wrinkles or sagging, but over time, this can catch up to them. It is, therefore, important to wear sunscreen regularly (even on cloudy days) and practice safe sun habits.
There are several other skin care steps you can take to preserve and protect your body’s collagen storehouses:
- Reduce stress. Stress produces hormones that break down collagen.
- Manage your sugar intake. Sugar, too, causes damage to collagen
- Eat a healthy diet. Foods with lots of vitamins, antioxidants, and lean protein can help to boost and stabilize collagen.
- Pick the right moisturizer. Use a moisturizer formulated to enhance collagen. Consider one with retinol.
Elastin & Skin Care
Like collagen, elastin is an important part of our ability to maintain youthful, healthy skin. Whereas collagen provides a foundation for the skin, elastin, as its name implies, provides elasticity. It enables tissue to expand and contract. Elastin is found throughout the body—in the lungs, arteries, veins, and skin, for example. Elastin makes the skin pliable but tight. If you pinch your skin and then let go, your skin snaps back into place. That is the work of elastin.
As with collagen, your body’s production of elastin slows over time. How much elasticity your skin loses depends largely upon genetics and lifestyle. Smoking, lack of sleep, stress, and poor eating habits all play a role in how much elasticity your skin loses as you age.
You can help preserve—and even boost—your body’s levels of elastin through healthy habits and proper nutrition. Try the following foods and nutrients that are believed to promote healthy elastin: