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Do Collagen Supplements Really Keep Your Skin Youthful?

While many studies have found that collagen supplements work, the jury's still out on whether they’re the most effective for keeping your skin supple and youthful.

A woman smiling as she gently touches her cheeks with her forefingers.

If you’re a fan of all things beauty and skincare, you’re likely familiar with the hype surrounding collagen supplements and skincare. You can find collagen products in pills, powders, and ready-to-drink beverages. They claim to boost skin elasticity, smoothen out wrinkles, and increase blood flow to the skin, but do they live up to all the hype? Research says yes, they do. 

Randomised trials provided convincing evidence that collagen supplements enhance skin hydration and elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

A separate systematic review also came to the same conclusion and found that such products could also accelerate wound healing.

Unfortunately, your skin’s collagen production will eventually slow as you age. To add, there are several factors that can make it difficult for your body to produce protein.

Discover what these factors are and alternative remedies that may help maintain skin youth as you age.

Factors That Impair Your Body’s Natural Collagen Production

A woman lifts her sunglasses with her right hand as she looks up to the sky.
Long-term exposure to sunlight can do more harm than good.

Below are some factors that keep your body producing collagen. Some of these are within your control:  

  • Age: Collagen levels will drop by 1% annually, between your late teenage years and early twenties. 
  • Stress: Chronic stress increases cortisol levels, which can decrease collagen production. 
  • Genetics: Your genetic makeup plays a role in determining the natural rate of collagen production in your body. 
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation: Prolonged exposure to UV rays can alter the cells that make collagen and give life to free radicals that cause oxidative stress
  • Smoking: The harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke restrict oxygen delivery to skin tissue. It impairs the regeneration process and can lead to tissue damage and death. 
  • Inflammatory diets: Eating too much sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed meats can activate your immune system and trigger inflammation. This delays the healing of damaged skin cells, weakens the skin’s barrier and causes premature skin ageing

Alternative Remedies to Collagen Supplements That Help Preserve Skin Health 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that your external appearance reflects your overall health. 

“By using natural or herbal remedies to maintain youthful skin and internal balance, you’ll be able to radiate beauty from the inside out.” 
 
Real Health Medical Physician Kelvin Goh

 For example, abundant blood and qi (vital life force) will help nourish and moisturise your skin. For these reasons, Physician Goh recommends using ginseng (ren shen, 人参) and Astragalus root (huang qi, 黄芪) to increase qi levels, and Chinese dates (da zao, 大枣) and Chinese Angelica (dang gui, 当归) to promote healthy blood circulation.

Lily bulbs (bai he, 百合) and goji berries (gou qi zi, 枸杞子) are also suitable choices for regulating your skin’s moisture levels. 

Peach gum resin  

Packed with nutrients and antioxidants, peach gum resin (tao jiao, 桃胶) has the ability to: 

  • Improve digestion 
  • Support heart health 
  • Protect against skin damage 
  • Lower your risk of certain types of cancer 
  • Reduce allergy symptoms 
  • Boost your immune system 
  • Boost metabolism and muscle growth 
  • Maintain bone and joint health 

Snow fungus 

A staple of TCM, snow fungus (yin er, 银耳) can contribute to a healthy complexion by: 

  • Lowering your risk of heart disease  
  • Strengthening your immune system 
  • Improving brain health and skin complexion 
  • Keeping your blood sugar level under control 
  • Demonstrating antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties 

Facial acupuncture

An acupuncturist supporting a woman’s face with his right hand while inserting an acupuncture needle into her cheek with his left.
Facial acupuncture helps improve not just your skin but your body too by circulating different energies through your entire body.

Apart from keeping you healthy, acupuncture can also improve facial skin complexion. Specifically, the treatment helps regulate skin moisture and sebum levels by balancing the yin (passive energy) and yang (active energy) of the body. 

During the treatment, an acupuncturist will stick tiny needles into your skin to create micro-trauma. This encourages your body to generate new skin cells, which improves your skin’s appearance and health.

Acupuncture can also help stimulate sections of the face (also known as meridians) that connect to your internal organ systems. The treatment promotes a positive flow of qiimproves the health of these organs and, in the process, your skin.

Thinking of giving collagen supplements a try? Go for it. You can also consider alternative remedies that can help improve your skin health holistically.

Before you self-medicate, seek the advice of a licensed TCM practitioner to learn which options suit your personal needs best. If you found these recommendations useful, share them with your loved ones, pronto.

References

  1. Cedars Sinai. 2020. Collagen for Your Skin: Healthy or Hype? [online] [Accessed 8 February 2023] 
  2. NASM. DO COLLAGEN SUPPLEMENTS WORK? HERE’S WHAT THE SCIENCE SAYS. [online] [Accessed 8 February 2023] 
  3. MindBodyGreen. 2021. 6 Reasons Collagen Declines + How To Support It Naturally. [online] [Accessed 8 February 2023] 
  4. LEARNSKIN. TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE PRIMER. [online] [Accessed 8 February 2023] 

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