What Is Collagen?

Collagen Q&A With Dr. Hal

With the launch of our new Cell Revive Collagen Complete, a lot of questions about collagen have been coming up from our customers, press and fans. Dr. Hal Simeroth, Chief Technical Officer for DermaTech Research LLC, makers of Stemology Skincare, answers all of our burning questions about collagen.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the body and the principal structural protein found in the body’s molecular scaffolding. This scaffolding is a complex matrix of proteins and proteoglycans that support the internal organs as well as the skin. Collagen is found in the body in various types. In the skin over 90% of the collagen is Type I. Proteoglycans (a protein bonded with a carbohydrate) in the Extracellular Matrix (ECM) give the skin firmness and structure. The most common carbohydrate is glycosaminoglycan (typically Hyaluronic Acid) and the most common protein is collagen. These two together in the ECM provide a solid foundation for the epidermis (outer skin) to rest upon giving firmness and fullness. With age comes a disorganization of the ECM; the collagen protein degrades and disperses, allowing water to move about more freely. The fibers also become misaligned and less orderly which causes a sagging and “lumpy” skin appearance.

What are the similarities and differences between soluble lab-produced collagen (found in our new Collagen Complete) and human collagen?

Obviously it would be ideal if collagen could be topically applied and penetrate into the skin in areas where collagen breakdown is occurring. However, this is not possible. The human cell produced collagen molecule is too large to penetrate the skin in any type of topical formulation. Some have tried to overcome this problem by “hydrolyzing” animal collagen, which is a process of breaking up the large molecule into smaller protein “pieces.” These smaller components of collagen that are able to penetrate skin in topical application have been shown to provide some help in building new collagen synthesis, but these hydrolyzed random peptide fragments cannot be relied upon to produce consistent results because the random pieces are not in an order that allows optimum performance in aiding new collagen production. Secondly they are derived from animal collagen, which is not viewed as an ethical or acceptable source by many, and that number is growing. Because of these issues, a laboratory produced amino acid “string” that is ordered like real human collagen, and also small enough for topical application, is a much better solution. It provides consistent amino acid sequences in the proper order of normal human collagen, and delivers better results in influencing increased collagen production. These small, properly ordered strings of amino acids are produced by beneficial bacteria in a controlled laboratory process. Thus there is no need for harvesting from animals.

Why is collagen so important in terms of beauty?

Collagen provides the supporting structure underneath the epidermis that keeps the skin firm and tight; thus providing a smooth skin appearance free of wrinkles, and sagging. Collagen production slows down and naturally diminishes due to aging. In order to reduce the appearance of aging it is necessary to find a means of reversing this slowdown in production and keep the skin support structure in place as it was in our younger days.

What makes Stemology’s new Collagen Complete unique?

It is the only collagen building skin care product on the market that combines the multiple approaches available that have been scientifically shown to enhance collagen building in all phases - fibroblast production, fibril and fiber development. Besides the non-animal, synthetic collagen, which has been clinically shown to improve collagen production, there is a rich concentration of stabilized vitamin C, which is so important for collagen formation. In addition there is Neodermyl, an award winning active that steps up collagen production and, after 15 days, shows measureable results in firmness, elasticity and wrinkle reduction of the skin. There are five botanical extracts that have shown in clinical testing to improve collagen production. There is also timed release Hyaluronic Acid to work together with collagen in the ECM. There are a number of other various ingredients known to assist collagen development as well. And because sagging skin may also relate to a decrease in subcutaneous fat under the dermis there is a botanical active that aids in increasing adipose tissue under the skin. And, of course, there is StemCore-3, Stemology’s proprietary technology featuring plant and human derived stem cell peptides, as well as a communicating agent, to heighten intercellular communication.

What do other collagen products use that Collagen Complete does not?

Collagen Complete does not use hydrolyzed animal collagen, which is not viewed as an ethical or acceptable source by many, and that number is growing. Most all collagen skin care products use a type of hydrolyzed animal collagen.

Why does the collagen amino acid sequence matter?

Only certain amino acids in a particular order have been shown to be the active in stimulating collagen production. These are glycine-proline-hydroxyproline, in that order. Why is it important to have the collagen split up into a small amino acid string? It must be small enough to provide penetration in topical applications. If it can’t get in, it can’t help.

How does Neodermyl work in the new Collagen Complete?

Neodermyl® is a pure source of bio-energy which can naturally diffuse into skin, re-energizing senescent fibroblasts and triggering essential elements to produce collagen and elastin. The unique active provides a safe type of energy to feed fibroblast cells and increase production, as well as a catalyst to promote the production of an enzyme that enables production and maturation of collagen and elastin.

What are ways that people can protect their collagen production?

Avoid direct UV exposure, which can harm collagen fibroblasts. Taking a collagen supplement orally has very limited value in skin collagen production, but can help. The collagen amino acids in a supplement are broken down in sequence in the GI tract. Healthy protein in the diet does as much good. Lack of vitamin C will damage collagen and cause other health problems as well.

Any lifestyle tips to avoid damage?

Avoid a high sugar diet and high blood sugar which can cause collagen glycation resulting in a lumpy skin appearance. Be sure to get plenty of Vitamin C in your diet or supplement. Collagen is a complex protein; make sure your diet has plenty of healthy proteins, which supply the amino acids needed for collagen production. Thanks Dr. Hal for the in-depth information on collagen, collagen production and Cell Revive Collagen Complete! If you have any questions about collagen or our new Cell Revive Collagen Complete, leave them in the comments and we’ll have Dr. Hal answer them!