In a recent Daily Mail article, writer Tanith Carey claims to have wiped five years off of her face in just two months by eating and drinking collagen.
Collagen is a protein that makes up 80% of skin when people are young. This basic building block forms mesh-like bonds that hold skin firm. After the age of 25, most people start losing collagen at a rate of about one percent per year, which is why people’s skin starts sagging and why people develop wrinkles.
For this reason, the skin care industry has attempted to develop more and more collagen replacement products and treatments.
“There’s a definite move towards improving the skin from the ‘inside out’ rather than the ‘outside in’ and stimulating our bodies to replace what has been lost,” says Laura Casewell, editor of The Cosmetic Surgery Guide.
“The most damage we can do to our skin is to expose it to sun for an extended period of time. When the skin is sun damaged, our level of collagen is greatly depleted. The best remedy to replenish the lost collagen and repair the damage is to use creams that contain high dosage of natural and not hydrolyzed collagen.” states Jacqui Dunal of Naturel Collagen
In order for Carey’s experiment to be a success, she first had to alter her diet. Collagen’s three biggest enemies are sunlight, smoking, and sugar. Carey didn’t sunbathe regularly, nor did she smoke, so her diet posed the biggest threat to her collagen. According to nutritionist Vicki Edgson, sugar is like poison to collagen. It attaches to collagen proteins once in the bloodstream and stiffens them, which prevents them from working properly.
After two weeks of limiting sugar intake and consuming collagen supplements, Carey received face injections to target areas of her face that had been particularly affected by aging. Though these injections can be expensive, they can also last for two years.
She also received a treatment of Exilis, which uses radio frequencies and ultrasound waves to heat the skin’s underlying layers to the temperature of a hot cup of tea. This breaks down worn-out collagen, while also stimulating the production of fresh proteins.
By the end of eight weeks, Carey’s collagen levels jumped from just about 61% to a total of 64.1%. As most people lose collagen by a rate of one percent per year, Carey was able to take off five years from her face.
The problematic part of Carey’s experiment, though, is that it’s impossible to really tell which treatment worked the best, or if it was a combination.
“I think people hope there is an easy answer that doesn’t involve invasive treatments, but there is no evidence to show there is any such magic potion,” says Dr. Kuldeep Minocha of the Absolute Aesthetics clinic.
Minocha also stressed that the best thing for women who want to decrease their collagen loss to do is to quit smoking and avoid cigarettes. This advice gels with the Mayo Clinic’s claim that many skin creams don’t work as well as they advertise. Of course, this experiment may have proved otherwise.