Know Your Skin From Beneath: What are Collagen and Elastin?
You are aware of your skin. What it needs, what benefits it the most, what products to apply, and what products to avoid. You are also aware of your skin type: normal, dry, oily, and combination and you have also tailored your skincare routine according to it. However, are you really aware of your skin? Not the one that appears in the mirror, but the one that is underneath it.
Have you ever wondered what provides a solid structure to the skin and what assures and contributes to its wellness?
It is the protein that exists in the body abundantly. Let us tell you about the two main proteins that affect the appearance and health of your skin: Collagen and Elastin.
What are Collagen and Elastin?
Collagen: Wikipedia defines collagen as "the main structural protein in the extracellular matrix found in the body's various connective tissues. As the main component of connective tissue, it is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up from 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. It is mostly found in connective tissue such as cartilage, bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin."
Elastin: Wikipedia defines Elastin as "a key protein of the extracellular matrix. It is highly elastic and present in connective tissue allowing many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched."
Benefits of collagen and elastin on the skin:
Resilience: Although elastin makes up about only 2% of total protein in the dermis of the skin, it is still crucial for providing resilience to the skin. It helps the skin endure and overcome the constant stress it meets on daily basis.
Firmness: Elastin is elastic and has rubber-like properties, that keep the skin flexible. It helps the skin to maintain and regain its shape after being stretched or contracted.
Anti-wrinkle: These two proteins: are the reason for your skin's plumpness and firmness. Clinically proven to significantly increase skin elasticity, and diminish the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging including saggy skin.
Ample hydration: Collagen provides hydration to the skin, and makes it more moisturized to give a radiantly youthful appearance.
Wound dressing: Collagen helps in healing wounds by attracting new skin cells to the wound sites. It promotes healing and provides a platform for the growth of the new tissues.
Other benefits of collagen:
- Stronger bones
- Thicker hair
- Healthier nails
- Reduced Osteoarthritis Pains
- Promotes Gut Health
- Ensures Heart Health
- Supports Brain Health
- Increases muscle mass
What damages collagen and elastin?
Several factors contribute to collagen and elastin damage:
High sugar consumption: Diet high in sugar increases the rate of glycation: Glycation is a process where blood sugars attach to proteins to form new molecules called AGES: Advanced Glycation End Products. AGEs damage nearby proteins which can make collagen dry, brittle, and weak.
Smoking: Chemicals present in tobacco damage proteins in the skin. Nicotine in cigarettes narrows the blood vessels in the outer layers of the skin.
Sun exposure: Harmful UV rays of the Sun can cause collagen to easily break down. They damage collagen fibers and cause abnormal elastin to build up. Aging signs like wrinkles and fine lines are caused by too much sun exposure.
Autoimmune disorders: Some autoimmune diseases cause antibodies to target collagen. Genetic changes can also affect the production of collagen. They may cause the collagen to be dysfunctional or mutant.
Age: As we grow old, the production of collagen is depleted naturally. Since it is a natural process, it is unavoidable.
Basic lifestyle tips to avoid the loss of these proteins: Avoid tobacco and excess sun exposure, and follow a healthy diet. Exercising regularly can protect collagen, reduce visible aging, and keep the skin, bones, muscles, and joints healthy for longer.
Nutrients that prevent the loss of collagen and elastin
- Proline: Egg whites, meat, cheese, soy, and cabbage
- Vitamin C: Oranges, strawberries, peppers, and broccoli
- Glycine: Pork skin, chicken skin, gelatin, and other protein-rich foods
- Zinc: Beef, lamb, pork, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils, beans, milk, cheese, and various nuts and seeds
- Copper: Shellfish, nuts, red meat, and some drinking water
- Vitamin A: Occurs in animal-derived foods and in plant foods as beta-carotene
- Anthocyanidins: Blackberries, blueberries, cherries, and raspberries
A diet rich in these nutrients will help promote healthy and younger-looking skin with greater resilience and skin elasticity.
There are certain supplements and topical skin care products available that give your skin the necessary boost in the production of collagen and elastin.