Which Is Better for Mature Skin?

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Collagen vs. Retinol: Which Is Better for Mature Skin?

Collagen vs. Retinol: Which Is Better for Mature Skin?

Mature skin is characterized by fine lines and wrinkles, sagging or crepey texture, and an overall loss in volume. All of these issues can be tied back to one major consequence of aging: collagen loss. Collagen plays a significant role in skin health, but as we age, the collagen that holds up our skin and gives it a ‘bouncy’ texture slowly deteriorates.

At the same time, our bodies become less capable of producing and replacing collagen. As high-quality collagen stores in our skin diminish, “valleys” begin to form, presenting themselves as the fine lines and wrinkles we see on our foreheads, around the eyes, and around the mouth. The older we get, the more pronounced this lack of collagen becomes, leading to overall loss in volume. Without a healthy amount of collagen holding up the top layers of our skin, the once smooth and bouncy skin texture of our youth gives way to sagging and crepiness. Therefore, if our goal is to maintain healthy skin that looks youthful, understanding how to increase collagen production is imperative.

Can we replace collagen in our skin?

Faced with collagen loss, our first instinct is to replace it—the same way we take vitamin supplements to fill up on what we’re lacking. Unfortunately, there is scant evidence that taking collagen supplements helps put collagen back into the skin. Collagen is a protein, like any other protein you find in eggs, chicken, or lean red meat. Consuming collagen orally is akin to eating a steak—neither one actually helps to plump the skin.

To replace collagen levels in the skin (or indeed, anywhere in the body), the body must synthesize it. The body uses “raw materials” like amino acids, vitamin C, zinc, and copper to create collagen, so having these in our diets will ensure our body has what it needs for collagen production. That’s great, except we have no way of making sure that collagen ends up where we want it—on our faces, necks, and arms.

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Do collagen products work for mature skin?

If collagen supplements aren't as effective, do collagen productions actually work? The beauty market is full of them: collagen masks, collagen peptide serums, creams, and various unguents. Remember how collagen is simply a protein not too different from the proteins in the meat we eat? Using a topical collagen product, like a mask, is akin to dipping your face in bone broth, which incidentally contains more collagen than your average collagen mask—it won’t put collagen back into your skin.

But why do we put skincare ingredients like vitamins on our skin? Doesn’t our skin absorb those? You’re absolutely right! The purpose of putting them on our skin isn’t necessarily to “replace” what we’re lacking, however. Vitamin B, vitamin C, and vitamin E are ‘active’ ingredients—they trigger beneficial processes when our skin absorbs them. Vitamin C, in particular, is an antioxidant that eliminates free radicals, reverses sun damage, and brightens the skin. Taking an oral vitamin C supplement, however, doesn’t quite trigger those processes. It might help you fight a cold, but it won’t affect your complexion.

Collagen vs. Retinol

Your best bet for fighting the signs of aging skin and boosting collagen where you want it? Retinol. An active form of vitamin A, retinol’s anti-aging effects are well-documented. Retinol is usually applied topically, in the form of a retinol serum or cream. When applied topically, retinol has the ability to “awaken” the skin on a cellular level, prompting skin cells to behave youthfully. That means better collagen expression, more robust skin cell turnover and renewal, and optimized gene regulation. The best part about retinol is that it works well topically, allowing you to target your treatment.

SIREN Technology in U Beauty’s Resurfacing Compound, a skin brightening serum, and The SCULPT Arm Compound takes it a step further by delivering retinol, among other complementary skincare ingredients like peptides and vitamin C, directly to areas of the skin where free radicals gather. By avoiding healthy areas and focusing treatment on the skin’s most vulnerable and damaged spots, the irritation commonly associated with retinol use is minimized. Its potent retinol-based formulation is why the Resurfacing Compound is clinically proven to reduce visible wrinkles by up to 77%. It’s also how The SCULPT visibly increases skin elasticity by up to 48% in the most stubborn under-arm areas.

When the choice comes down to collagen products or retinol products, always pick the retinol product. Our advice? Start retinol treatment early. Remember how our collagen stores deplete with age? The earlier you start, the more collagen you have to save for the future. When using retinol products, it’s wise to use sunscreen since retinol makes you more prone to sun damage. UV rays can also degrade retinol, making it ineffective. Lastly, some people can develop dryness when using retinol, so make sure you follow retinol treatment with a nourishing moisturizer.

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