By now we’ve all heard of collagen, right? It’s that amazing protein found in our skin, joints, bones and so much more. It makes up over 25% of the protein in our bodies and helps to keep the structure of many tissues.
Our skin is the largest organ of the body. It is made up of two layers. The outer layer is called the epidermis, and the inner layer is called the dermis. The outer epidermis layer provides us with protection from the outside world. The inner dermal layer provides our skin with strength and elasticity.
With our skin being in constant contact with the outside world, the first signs of aging often appear here. Maintaining dermal thickness and density may play a role in slowing the aging process.
What does dermal thickness and density mean?
The word dermal refers to skin and more specifically the dermis. Remember, the dermis is the inner and thicker layer of the skin. It provides strength and elasticity and is very rich in collagen.
Next, let’s break down dermal thickness and dermal density. Dermal thickness is quite straight forward and as it sounds; it is how thick the dermis layer of the skin is. Dermal density is a little bit more complicated.
When we say dermal density, we are referring to a bunch of things in the dermis layer of our skin. Density describes the compactness of something or how much mass (or weight) can fit in a certain space (volume).
When considering dermal density, this of course includes collagen among other proteins and fats. Another key player in the dermal layer of our skin is something called elastin. Elastin is a protein that is like collagen. It is responsible for providing elasticity and resilience to our tissues. Not only is elastin found in our skin, but it is also in our arteries, tendons, ligaments and more.
If you are big on skincare, then chances are you’ve heard of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is another component of the dermis. It is known as the molecule in our skin that helps keep in moisture.
To summarize, dermal thickness and density refer to characteristics of the dermis or inner layer of skin.
Dermal thickness = space between outer and inner layer of the dermis; how thick the layer of the dermis is
Dermal density = collagen + elastin + hyaluronic acids + other amino acids (protein) + lipids (also known as fats)
What exactly does collagen do for our skin?
We’ve already mentioned that collagen is abundant in our skin, but what role does it play exactly? Well, collagen is a structural protein. This means that helps our skin keep its shape.
Type I collagen are the thick fibres that maintain the structure of our dermis (inner layer of skin!). In young, sun-protected skin, the breakdown and building of collagen in our skin is balanced.
As we age, there is a reduction in collagen production. As a result, there is also a reduction in the thickness and density of the dermal layer. These changes come with visible, physical changes including wrinkles, reduced elasticity and dryer skin.
These changes to our skin happen over a long period of time. In addition to aging, these changes to our skin can be from a variety of factors. Some things that may cause changes to our skin include sun damage, not eating a balanced diet, stress or nutrient deficiencies.
Let’s ask the important question. Can collagen supplements help with dermal thickness and density?
We now know that dermal thickness and density are important players in the appearance of our skin. Decreased dermal thickness and density are associated with wrinkles, dryness and thinness of the skin.
Collagen supplements have proven to be effective against changes that happen to our skin. Collagen can help with the thickness and density of our skin. This helps our skin appear more youthful, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and increase skin hydration.
A randomized placebo controlled trial investigated the effects of taking 2.5 g of collagen peptides daily on skin health. The participants were healthy women over the age of 35. After 12 weeks of supplementing with collagen, these women had improved dermal density. The collagen supplement also helped to improve skin hydration, elasticity and roughness.
Another study found similar results. Supplementing with marine collagen resulted in increased collagen synthesis and decreased collagen degradation.
We recommend a marine collagen supplement among a few other things to keep your skin happy and healthy.
Okay, so we’ve learned all about the importance of maintaining our skin’s density and how collagen can play a role in that. But with so many collagen products on the market, it can be hard to know where to start.
We recommend a marine collagen supplement. Why? Well, type I collagen is the most plentiful type of collagen in the skin. And what type of collagen is marine collagen abundant in? Yep, you guessed it. Type I collagen.
Not a fan of supplements? Incorporating more collagen into your diet is another way of slowing collagen loss. Collagen is found in animal products. This includes foods like bone broth, fish and eggs.
If those foods aren’t your cup of tea, then there are some other foods that you could consider adding into your diet. Some foods actually contain nutrients that are used in the body during the process of building collagen. Vitamin C is an example of this.
Vitamin C is required in the collagen building process, so adding vitamin C to your diet wouldn’t hurt. Some foods high in vitamin C include fruits and veggies such as broccoli, peppers, oranges and grapefruits.
There are lots of different factors that contribute to the overall appearance of your skin. Dermal thickness and density is an important part of your skin’s appearance. As we age, our collagen production decreases causing a decrease in our skin’s thickness and density.
Taking care of our skin is important and a skincare routine is essential! A collagen supplement may slow some of the changes that come with aging. But it should be done in addition to eating a healthy diet, protecting our skin from the sun and using appropriate skincare products.
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- Bolke, L., Schlippe, G., Gerß, J., & Voss, W. (2019). A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study. Nutrients, 11(10), 2494.
- Liang, J., Pei, X., Zhang, Z., Wang, N., Wang, J., & Li, Y. (2010). The Protective Effects of Long-Term Oral Administration of Marine Collagen Hydrolysate from Chum Salmon on Collagen Matrix Homeostasis in the Chronological Aged Skin of Sprague-Dawley Male Rats. Journal of Food Science, 75(8), H230–H238.
- Miranda, R. B. de, Weimer, P., & Rossi, R. C. (n.d.). Effects of hydrolyzed collagen supplementation on skin aging: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Dermatology, n/a(n/a).