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Topical Collagen: An Ally Against Wrinkles.

A biomolecule naturally synthesized by the body, collagen is an important structural protein for the dermis. It is also incorporated into many cosmetic treatments designed to support aging skin. What properties of collagen justify its extensive use in combating wrinkles? Learn more here.

Summary
Published May 23, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

What are the benefits of topical collagen on wrinkles?

Collagen is a protein of great importance for the skin. Present in the form of fibers, it acts as a binder in the extracellular matrix of the dermis and helps maintain its structure, thus ensuring the suppleness and firmness of the skin. However, its production begins to slow down around the age of 25, at a rate of about 1% per year. Additionally, collagen fibers tend to fragment and become disorganized over time, which promotes the appearance of wrinkles and skin sagging.

To combat the signs of aging, an external supply of collagen appears to be relevant.

When applied topically, collagen primarily offers moisturizing benefits. Often combined with hyaluronic acid, this skin-compatible active forms a film on the surface that attracts and retains water molecules. In doing so, collagen strengthens the hydrolipidic film, a water/oil substance that aims to protect the skin, which helps to prevent dehydration fine lines. As the name suggests, these fine lines form when the epidermal barrier is weakened due to significant water loss.

Furthermore, studies have shown that hydrolyzed collagen has antioxidant effects, which depend on the size of the peptides: the smaller they are, the better their ability to donate an electron to stabilize free radicals. The neutralization of oxidative stress plays an important role in wrinkle prevention. Indeed, by oxidizing endogenous collagen and elastin fibers, free radicals alter their structure and weaken their ability to optimally support the skin.

Finally, unlike native protein, collagen peptides can penetrate the epidermis and stimulate the proliferation and activity of fibroblasts, the skin cells responsible for the production of collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycans. By strengthening the extracellular matrix of the dermis, collagen peptides help maintain smooth and firm skin for a longer time and delay the appearance of wrinkles.

A clinical trial aimed to highlight the firming properties of collagen peptides when applied topically. For this purpose, 22 women with visible periorbital and glabellar wrinkles applied a collagen solution to their faces twice daily. After 4 weeks, the researchers observed several improvements, which they deemed significant, in the participants' wrinkles, as summarized in the table below. However, these improvements appear to be quite minimal. Another limitation of the study is the relatively small number of participants.

Measured ElementsResults after 4 weeks
Average depth of periorbital wrinklesReduction of 0.01 mm
Skin DensityIncrease of 7%
Skin ElasticityIncrease of 2.5%

Paradoxically, to date, there are only a few clinical trials on the effects of topical collagen on wrinkles, even though this molecule has been the subject of numerous in vitro studies, demonstrating its potential to slow the effects of aging. It would be beneficial for more clinical trials to be conducted to strengthen the current understanding of collagen's action on wrinkles.

Sources

  • AHUIRRE-ÁLVAREZ G. & al. Collagen hydrolysates for skin protection: oral administration and topical formulation. Antioxidants (2020).

  • LIU D. & al. Collagen peptides and the related synthetic peptides: A review on improving skin health. Journal of Functional Foods (2021).

  • LEE J. H. & al. Effect of a Topical Collagen Tripeptide on Antiaging and Inhibition of Glycation of the Skin: A Pilot Study. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2022).

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