Collagen Boost: Effective Treatments for Radiant Skin

April 17, 2024

woman wants to restore collagen in the face

While collagen is most often related to anti-aging skincare, it’s actually important to maintain healthy collagen levels at all ages. According to Dr. Jacqueline Watchmaker of U.S. Dermatology Partners in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona, “Collagen is a protein found abundantly in skin. It helps to keep skin smooth, plump, and healthy. Due to damage and age, collagen may not develop as quickly, or our bodies may not process out damaged collagen and replace it with healthy collagen frequently enough. This leaves skin looking saggy and wrinkled. There are many ways to promote healthy collagen turnover and production, and it’s important to work with a dermatologist to develop a skincare routine and dermatologic treatment plan to achieve and maintain proper collagen levels.” In this blog, Dr. Watchmaker explores what collagen is, how it affects skin health, and how to promote healthy collagen levels.

The Role of Collagen in Skin Health

Collagen is one of the most essential building blocks of our bodies. It’s found in bones, blood vessels, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It’s also found in our hair, skin, and nails. According to Dr. Watchmaker, “Collagen proteins are naturally produced by the body, but age and exposure to environmental aggressors leads to a decrease in the amount of collagen we produce. As collagen production decreases, the majority of the collagen that is produced by our bodies is pulled away to muscles, bones, and other more vital areas to ensure our bodies stay healthy and functional. This causes the skin, hair, and nails to receive less collagen or hold onto old, damaged collagen proteins longer. This dramatically changes appearance. Nails become brittle, and hair loses its shine with ends that are more likely to split. You’ll notice skin doesn’t look or feel as smooth and plump. The good news is there are some ways to boost collagen levels and keep skin healthy.”

Factors Contributing to Collagen Loss

There are many reasons collagen loss occurs, including:

  • Aging – Skin aging is the leading factor that causes collagen loss. As we age, the body produces less collagen and utilizes the collagen produced to support more essential functions within the body.
  • Sun exposure – The second most common cause of collagen loss is sun exposure. Any amount of sun exposure can be damaging, but it’s especially significant if you experience frequent or prolonged sun exposure. The sun’s UVA and UVB rays damage cells and this has been associated with decreased collagen production and damage to existing collagen.
  • Lifestyle – Smoking and tobacco use, as well as excessive alcohol consumption, have been known to damage the body on a cellular level, including proteins like collagen. The use of tobacco and excessive alcohol use both contribute to diminished production of collagen as well as delayed regeneration of damaged collagen.
  • Diet – You may have heard you are what you eat, while the truth is a little more complicated, diet definitely plays a part in ensuring we have adequate nutrients to support healthy function, including collagen production. Eating too much processed, fried, or sugar-heavy food can lead to inflammation that causes a decrease in collagen production. Consuming a more nutrient-rich diet supports overall health as well as the production and repair of healthy cells.
  • Stress – Stress causes the release of cortisol hormones in the body that can decrease collagen production and slow the turnover from damaged to healthy collagen proteins.
  • Medical diagnosis – Severe and chronic health conditions, including osteogenesis imperfecta, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and scurvy, can all negatively impact collagen production.

Popular Collagen Stimulating Treatments

While there are numerous reasons why collagen production diminishes and healthy collagen is lost or damaged, there are also numerous options to boost collagen levels and repair existing collagen. Below, Dr. Watchmaker describes the top treatments and products recommended to boost collagen.

Chemical Peels

These treatments use chemicals to peel away the outer layers of skin. This can be beneficial to improve the appearance of fine lines and general discoloration or uneven skin tone. By removing dead skin cells, the healthy skin revealed looks smoother. In addition to removing these dead skin cells and revealing healthy skin below, chemical peels also stimulate the body’s natural healing response. When this happens, the result is the removal of damaged collagen and the production of new, healthy collagen.


This procedure works in much the same way that a chemical peel does. The main difference is in how the healing process is triggered. Rather than removing outer layers of skin, microneedling uses small-gauge needles to make microscopic, controlled injuries to the skin. This jump-starts the healing process, leading to an increase in collagen production and the removal of damaged collagen.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy increases collagen production and improves skin elasticity. The process works by using laser light to stimulate collagen in the deeper layers of the skin.  There are multiple different types of lasers that stimulate collagen including the Clear and Brilliant Laser, Halo, Fraxel, CO2, etc.

Topical Collagen Boosters

There are numerous skincare products on the market that boost collagen production. If you’re looking to boost your collagen levels, look for skincare products with the following ingredients:

  • Hyaluronic acid – A key ingredient in hydrating skin, but it’s also proven to improve wound healing and boost collagen production.
  • Retinol – Using retinol daily has proven effective in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This is due in part to the accelerated skin cell turnover that occurs as retinol dissolves dead skin cells on the outer layers of the skin. This process also stimulates collagen production and reduces damage to existing collagen.
  • Vitamin C – This ingredient makes it possible for enzymes to stabilize existing collagen, and it increases the amount of collagen the body produces by stimulating production and preventing damage to existing collagen from sun exposure.

Natural Methods to Increase Collagen

According to Dr. Watchmaker, “Oral collagen has become a bit of a hot-button topic related to skin health and beauty. Some dermatologists recommend supplements, while others don’t.  Personally, I think the data is still inconclusive for oral collagen supplements, so I usually recommend dermatologic treatments and topical products.” Other ways to boost collagen include the following:

  • Hydrate – In order to keep collagen and elastin healthy and skin cells plump, you need a lot of moisture. That starts with ensuring you drink plenty of water to keep your whole body hydrated.
  • Add vitamin C to your diet – Vitamin C deficiency often leads to low levels of collagen, and it can also cause issues with wound healing and other bodily functions. The body doesn’t produce immune-boosting vitamin C on its own. Instead, vitamin C can be consumed by taking supplements or adding more citrus fruits, broccoli, peppers, strawberries, and other foods with vitamin C into your diet.
  • Consume antioxidants – One of the benefits of vitamin C is that it works as an antioxidant, especially when applied topically. That means it protects against damage from the sun, stress, chemicals, pollutants, and other environmental aggressors. While topical antioxidants are beneficial, adding more antioxidants to the diet can increase health from the inside out and boost the production of collagen. Good sources of antioxidants in the diet are foods like blueberries, green tea, cinnamon, and basil.
  • Prevent damage – Apply sunscreen, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, and care for your skin with a consistent daily skincare routine. This alone will do wonders in preventing skin damage and collagen loss.

Expert Perspective on Collagen Treatments

In closing, Dr. Watchmaker says, “If you’re concerned about your body’s production of collagen proteins or you’re starting to notice changes in the texture or appearance of skin, a dermatologist should be your first call. Dermatologists can help you develop a daily skincare routine as well as plan for any dermatologic treatments to boost your collagen production and keep skin looking its best.”

Schedule a Consultation with a Trusted Dermatologist

Whether you’re interested in learning more about dermatologic treatments to promote collagen production or you just want to boost your skincare routine, don’t hesitate to reach out to the U.S. Dermatology Partners team to schedule a consultation visit. We make it easy to get started. Simply take a few moments to complete our online scheduling request form. Once we receive your request, a local practice will be in contact to finalize the details of your visit.

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