As doctors, nurses, and support staff in esthetic and cosmetic spas and medical offices, we field a lot of questions about the best way to help clients’ skin look and stay young. There are various signs of age that people are looking to overcome. There are even more alternatives available to help those people achieve the look they want. Your job is to sort through those alternatives and make the best possible recommendation. One of the best ways to start is by helping their skin produce new collagen. Here is the most modern knowledge on the subject.
Collagen is a connective protein that literally binds things together. It is responsible for making your skin look plump. As people age, the collagen in their bodies breaks down and the skin begins to sag and wrinkle. It is no wonder that an enormous amount of the beauty industry’s R and D resources are invested in attempts to preserve, boost, and/or replace collagen.
Products that Put Collagen In the Skin
While there is some promising research on the use of nano-technology, allowing collagen molecules to be delivered directly into the skin via cream or mask, for the most part it is not easy to achieve. This is because of two reasons.
First, collagen molecules are too large, at 5,000 to 9,000 daltons, to be absorbed into the skin. That delivery method would require molecules less than half that size (approximately 2,000 daltons or smaller). (Source). The second challenge that delivery by absorption presents is the fact that collagen is a water-soluble protein and the skin’s lipid layer is oil and built to protect.
There are two products that claim to have achieved the technology necessary to topically deliver collagen into the skin: Sabrina Beauty Collagen Rx Plus Anti-Aging Face Cream and Revolution Fibers Activlayr face masks. Both have research backing their products and rely on marine collagen. Then there are injectables. Generally speaking the collagen from injectables comes either from bovine or human sources. They are meant to supplement the collagen in the skin and help to smooth out fine lines and shallow wrinkles. There are many brands of collagen-based products. However, many clients are not comfortable with the fact that some come from cows or deceased human donors. Those also tend to not work quite as well as injections derived from a person’s own cells. (Source). Isolagen, made of live cells cloned from the individual’s own skin, is the most recognizable name brand, but there are many other products currently on the market and also on the horizon.
Products that Induce Collagen Growth
One of the largest trends in the beauty industry is collagen supplements.The idea behind this is that there are certain consumables that will help the body produce more collagen, therefore keeping people looking and feeling younger. In 2018 WebMD published an interesting online article about this and the hundred million dollar+ industry that it has become.
For centuries, Chinese women have viewed collagen as a Fountain of Youth, routinely consuming foods like donkey skin in hopes of smoothing withered skin and preserving aging joints… In 2018, thanks in part to a small but growing body of evidence suggesting it can improve skin, ease arthritis symptoms, promote wound healing, and fend off muscle wasting, U.S. consumers are expected to spend $122 million on collagen products. That’s up 30% from last year, according to the market research firm Nutrition Business Journal.
Chances are that many of your clients will balk at the idea of eating donkey skin, even if it helps them look good – as in the US we generally do not think of donkeys as animals raised for production of products (for evidence of this follow the trends on how the US feels about equine slaughter). However, the collagen supplement industry has created a large enough range of powders, pills, and chewables which deliver the substance, generally made up of hooves, bones, skin and/or nerve fibers from animals. Perhaps the most in-depth look at the interface between consuming collagen and the skin’s beauty is found in the 2018 publication, “The Collagen Glow: A Guide To Ingestible Skincare.”
Keep in mind that these are not medicines, they are supplements, so they are not typically regulated by the FDA.
Procedures that Encourage Production of Collagen
The most tried and true method of enhancing collagen in the skin is to injure it. The reason is that collagen is a protein your body deploys to rebuild itself. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery recognizes this when it recommends the use of non-surgical combined IPL/RF treatments as described:
Combine intense pulsed light (IPL) with radiofrequency (RF) to heat deeper layers of skin and induce the natural healing response, which in turn triggers collagen production. The addition of IPL allows a provider to treat skin at multiple levels and can help focus the RF energy for more effective treatment. Commonly used treatments include Refirme® and VelaShape®.
The results of such treatments are well documented, including a study authored by SCALE 2019 Music City faculty Dr. Michael Gold, demonstrating the clear facial rejuvenation potential of these technologies. Other treatments that instigate the production of collagen are just as promising.