There’s a huge scandal going on in the skin care industry, and it’s the all-too-common marketing of collagen creams and collagen gels for the treatment of fine lines, wrinkles, and stretch marks. Collagen applied to the skin can give it a plumper, smoother, more youthful appearance-until the first time you wash your face. Understanding how the skin makes collagen helps savvy consumers avoid ripoffs by unscrupulous skin product makers.
Collagen is the protein that gives skin its strength and elasticity. Each molecule of collagen forms a long, regular strand that falls into line with neighboring molecules of collagen that bind to each other. Even at a molecular level, collagen has a certain amount of “give,” so it is flexible but it does not tear. This keeps the skin strong enough to keep from tearing but supple enough that it can move when the muscles of the face move. The more the skin can be stretched, the less likely it is to form wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks.
The skin makes its own collagen. Each cell takes amino acids, especially glycine, lysine, and proline, and strings them into regular chains with the help of vitamin C. Without vitamin C, the cell cannot “hook up” the amino acids into a regular chain.
The cells expel a product called procollagen, and then enzymes outside the cell cause it to unfold into regular chains that are glued back to surrounding cells with “cellular cements” such as integrin and fibronectin. By the time the collagen is in place in the skin, it is a very large molecule, too large to absorbed through a pore.
The size of the collagen molecule is the reason that using collagen cosmetics has been compared to trying to build muscles by rubbing a steak on your arm. There is no way that collagen applied on the skin can get inside the skin. While collagen from cosmetics in on the skin, it absorbs water and makes the skin look plumper and more wrinkle-free, but the very first time the skin is washed, the collagen comes off.
It does not make any difference whether collagen is of plant or animal origin, applying it to the skin only works for a few hours, and then the treatment has to be repeated all over again. And that is a good thing, because if the skin were permeable to collagen, we would all have allergies all the time!
So how can you get collagen into your skin to treat wrinkles or stretch marks? The secret is to help the skin make its own collagen with a special form vitamin C known as ascorbyl palmitate. This form of vitamin C is made by adding the ascorbate form of the vitamin to palmitic acid, which is found in palm oil, palm kernel, and coconut oil. Ascorbyl palmitate is fat-soluble, allowing it to flow into the skin where it is needed the most.
Inside the skin, ascorbyl palmitate helps the skin make its own collagen. The skin naturally erases stretch marks and wrinkles, and the results are long-lasting. But as the answer to the question of how to increase collagen, why not get collagen injections?
Most collagen used in cosmetic procedures is made from beef tendons, through a process similar to making Jell-O. Since some people are allergic to beef, some plastic surgeons will use human collagen extract from cadavers, placenta, or aborted fetuses.
Best Way to Get Collagen for Stretch Marks
And many people prefer not to be injected with such products! The best way to get collagen for stretch marks is to help your skin make its own, with regular application of products made from ascorbyl palmitate, often called “C-Ester,” such as AgeLess Skin Cream with C-Ester and Source Naturals Skin Eternal Cream with Lipoic Acid, DMAE, and C-Ester. Just because a product is not labeled as “for stretch marks” does not mean it isn’t the best buy among the products for stretch marks that really work. Try these products and see!