Collagen for the skin: Everything you need to know

Collagen: our body naturally produces this wondrous protein. However as we age, its production slows down immensely, which is a shame because collagen is an essential component of our connective tissues that make up the skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. 

Once the slow-down process begins, it results in thinning of each layer of the skin: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. It also weakens the connective tissue, bone, muscle and hair health.

Never fear though - collagen is readily available for those of us who desperately need it. Topical collagen, in particular, is an effective way to target and improve skin, as it is applied directly to the skin via products such as serums and creams.

In fact, according to Olay’s principal skin scientist, David Khoo, the most efficient way to get something into our skin is by applying it directly. Below, Khoo tells us more.

Can you please tell us about Olay’s new Collagen Peptide range and the science behind it?

Our skin looks best in the morning, but our research shows that it can age up to eight years in a day. The busyness of work, running errands (or just running) out in bright sunlight and broken sleep can stress your skin, causing it to dry out and lose its plumpness. Uneven texture and tone can become more evident by the end of the day.

Collagen is foundational to your skin’s resilience, underpinning its strength and elasticity. Meanwhile, your skin barrier complements the role of collagen, helping skin retain its moisture and plumpness. However, as skin gets stressed and damaged, collagen breaks down and the skin barrier weakens, contributing to the loss of the dewy morning glow.

Olay’s Skin Scientists use a Collagen Peptide sequence, Pal-KTTKS that is a fragment of the same type of collagen found in our skin. Unlike regular collagen, the small size and design of Olay’s collagen peptide enables it to readily penetrate and go deeper into the skin. In studies, collagen peptide has been shown to improve skin’s firmness and resilience. Meanwhile, niacinamide strengthens the skin barrier.

Who is this range best suited to?

Collagen Peptide 24 is suited to all skin types. This is because collagen is the foundation of our skin and is a naturally occurring protein we already have.

The Collagen Peptide range has a unique delivery system. Can you please tell us more about this?

Your skin barrier is like a bouncer at a club (remember those?): It’s picky about what it lets in. It has to be, or it wouldn’t be doing its job of protecting you. There are all kinds of germs, irritating proteins (allergens) and chemicals that it works hard to keep out.

So it should come as no surprise that it isn’t easy to get a collagen ingredient past the skin barrier. There are several features of an ingredient that your skin barrier will ‘rubber stamp’ - let in. 

Firstly, the ingredient has to be below a certain size. Too big and it won’t fit through the openings - the pores and other means of entry - in your skin. Secondly, it can’t be too water-loving. Your skin cells are held together by waxy, oily lipids that repel water. So the ingredient ideally should have an oil-loving quality to it that enables it to pass through the skin barrier.  

a) In this regard, not all collagen proteins (digestible and topical) are created equal. The efficacy of any given collagen treatment ultimately depends on its bioavailability. Some forms of collagen used in skincare products can be too large or water-loving to penetrate the skin and so it remains on the skin’s surface.

b) The collagen peptide used in Olay is tiny - comprised of four amino acids - and it’s linked to an oil-loving, lipid ‘tail’. This peptide has been tested and proven to absorb readily into the skin barrier, making it bioavailable to your skin.

What are the main benefits of topical collagen?

It’s generally agreed that the most efficient way to get something into your skin is by applying it directly to your skin, which is why skincare has been widely used for generations. 

How does topical collagen compare to ingested collagen?

There is emerging evidence that some forms of ingestible collagen do benefit the skin. However, it’s still early days and the studies we’ve seen so far involve doses of ingestible collagen much higher than that used in skincare products in order to provide noticeable benefits. We don’t really know how they compare;  it would be interesting to see these two forms - topical and ingestible collagen - compared side by side in the same study. 

However, what we are aware of is that ingested collagen widely targets all areas of your body - hair, nails, bones, and skin. This would mean you will need to consume larger quantities over a longer term in order to see results.

Whereas topical collagen is very specific and targets only skin. Not all collagen is created equal!

How can these two work together?

It’s possible that these two can complement each other but more research would need to be done before they say for sure.

As mentioned, topical collagen effectively targets skin as it is applied directly onto skin, with no other barriers. Whereas ingested collagen is widely used for your entire body and is not as targeted.

In your opinion, what are some new and exciting ingredients in skincare that we should keep an eye out for?

We’re working on something very cool ourselves that promises to be a game-changer: a strong antioxidant as well as exfoliators. Stay tuned!

What do you think the next trend in skincare will be for the spring and summer season?

As lockdown continues to come and go, and working hours lengthen, we’ll value moments of self-care to keep our spirits up and our skins lifted. As lockdown also gets lifted, our schedules will no doubt get packed and busier. 

Sheet masks are not only indulgent, they’re packed with ingredients and are especially refreshing when kept in the fridge just before use. If they aren’t a hit in the warmer months of spring and into the summertime, they should be! 

Olay has just recently designed and released six new sheet masks that allow you to quite literally #MaskOnTheTask! The fit of these sheet masks are amazing and very elastic, allowing you to even work out while masking.

To view the Olay product range and to download hi-res images, click here.