10 Ways to Increase Your skin’s Collagen without Supplements

10 Ways to Increase Your skin’s Collagen without Supplements

January is the start of a new year and, for me, another birthday. I tend to use this time to take stock of many things in my life including my “look”. And, of course, my skin.

Skin is an organ, it’s a reflection of what’s going on inside and outside, and it’s a social thing too. Your skin is one way you interact with the outside world.

So as much as we like to say looks don’t matter, they do, at least some. More importantly, how you feel about how you look is what matters.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how my skin is changing as I get older and that leads me to think about collagen.

As the years go by, collagen is one of the things that change a lot. Collagen loss is inevitable. But there are a lot of things you can do to protect the collagen you have and even encourage your amazing skin to produce a little more.

Collagen and your skin

The reason we talk so much about collagen when we’re talking skin care is that collagen makes up about 80% of your skin’s structure.

Collagen gives your skin its firmness and structure.

What is collagen anyway?

Simply put, collagen is a protein.

Proteins are the building blocks of your body-bones, tissues, organs, skin and hair. They’re the bricks and mortar of your body.

Collagen is important because it’s the main structural protein in your body. It’s the main component of your skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. It’s the glue that holds your body together.

But collagen isn’t the only protein that's important for your skin. Keratin and elastin are important too.

Keratin makes up hair, nails, and the surface layer of your skin. Keratin is what forms the rigidity of your skin. It’s  part of the skin barrier that protects your skin.

Your skin also needs the ability to stretch and then bounce back.

This is where the protein elastin comes in. Just like it sounds, elastin is like an elastic band. It allows your skin to stretch to reach for something or make a facial expression, then bounce back so you don’t have big flaps of stretched out skin. Love elastin.

Aging and collagen

Now for the bad news. As you age, your body makes a bit less collagen each year. After about age 25, you’re losing a little more collagen than your body is making. By age 30, you’re losing about 1% each year.

As collagen and elastin break down faster than they’re replenished, you start to see changes like wrinkles and fine lines, sagging, and skin that just doesn’t bounce back well.

Age related bone loss also changes the structure of your face.


Some collagen loss is a natural part of aging, but there are a lot of other factors that can influence collagen in your skin.

10 Ways to Increase Your skin’s Collagen without Supplements (we’ll talk about supplements next time)


#1. Protect your skin from the sun. The sun’s rays activate enzymes that speed up collagen breakdown in your skin. If you take supplements or get cfosmetic procedures with faithfully applying your sunscreen every single day, you’re throwing your money away. Nothing will overcome the damage done by unprotected time in the sun. Sorry.

#2. Stop smoking. The thing that will age your skin even faster than the sun is smoking. Tobacco smokers are known to have skin that looks 20-30 years older than their actual age. Not only is the look unflattering, the effects on your health are even worse. Tobacco smoke actives the enzymes that break down collagen even faster and the general inflammatory effect of smoke also damages your skin.

#3 Avoid sitting in traffic and spending time out in polluted air. Pollutants in the air settle on your skin and produce free radicals that cause damage to your skin cells.

Avoiding polluted air can be next to impossible at times. One thing you can do is be sure to wear moisturizer under your sunscreen. Moisturizer helps to shield your skin’s barrier and keep those nasty free radicals from doing as much damage.

The other thing that helps is to wash your face well at the end of the day so that you remove pollutant particles. 

Antioxidant skin care, (SunUp, DewDrops) also help to combat damage from pollution.

#4 Avoid UV rays and constant heat. We’ve talked about the damage the sun can do. It turns out being around UV rays or consistent heat can also activate the enzymes and free radicals that damage your skin. A classic example is a baker who is constantly reaching in and out of an oven. The skin on the hands and forearms of bakers tend to look older than the rest of their skin.

Antioxidant skin care can help with this.

#5 Blue Light and other visible light. Visible light rays can cause free radical damage, especially blue light from computer screen, phones, and other electronics.  These can be difficult to avoid, especially if your job involves sitting in front of a computer.

Antioxidant skin care can help here.

Here’s where you’re lucky. Mineral sunscreens and make up with iron oxides (mineral makeup) seem to help block the effects of blue light. Since you’re already going to be wearing mineral sunscreen every day (right?), you should be covered.

#6 Deal with chronic stress as much as you can. When you’re stressed, Cortisol is released as a response.. Chronic stress means more cortisol circulating in your body. High levels of cortisol mean a poor insulin response and chronic low level inflammation which breaks down collagen. It also suppresses your immune system which means your skin’s repair response is lowered.

#7 Menopause. This is one you can’t avoid. It’s a natural part of life. But know that in menopause your estrogen levels drop. Estrogen is important for collagen production and you’ll notice some changes in your skin around this time.

Continuing to take excellent care of your skin and your self, wearing your sunscreen faithfully, and adding in some active ingredients to your skin care routine can help (think retinol and peptides).

#8 Get enough sleep. Enough good quality sleep is essential for skin repair and collagen production. You know that after a poor night’s sleep you not only feel crummy but you don’t look as good as usual either.

When sleep deprivation is chronic, collagen production tanks and inflammation goes up. Your skin doesn’t repair and rejuvenate itself like it should.

#9 Diet. A consistent skin care routine and supplements are great, but they don’t replace a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits. You can’t exercise or supplement your way out of a poor diet. Avoid sugar and highly processed foods. Make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin C, legumes, and olive oil too.

#10 Use retinol to feed your skin and encourage it to produce more collagen. Retinol and retinoid products are amongst the most studied and most proven skin ingredients to increase collagen production. They also help to suppress the enzymes that break collagen down. Work up to nightly use and be consistent.


These are the most important steps you can take to protect, preserve, and even increase your skin’s collagen. Supplements can help too and I’ll write about them next.




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  • Liane Bottone


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