It’s some of the most sobering beauty news ever: starting in our mid-twenties, we lose about one percent of our collagen—the structural protein that’s responsible for giving skin that youthful bounce and firmness—every year. Sad, yes. But not worth losing sleep over. We live in an age where science and innovation keep us from having to succumb to statistics—not now, not ever. We turned to celebrity esthetician Melanie Grant, the mastermind behind the youthful complexions of Victoria Beckham and Rose Byrne, for her tips to preserve, protect, and plump things up.
UP THE ANTE WITH ANTIOXIDANTS
The first rule of the Collagen Club is to retain, retain, retain. No matter how much damage has already been done, it’s never too late to start defending skin against the onslaught of daily environmental aggressors—pollutants, UV, chemicals, and the like. The easiest way to do that is to go hard on an antioxidant-spiked serum like Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum, a French formula starring a protective molecule derived from grape skins. Vitamin C is also incredibly effective, says Grant, at “boosting collagen synthesis and skin immunity.” BeautyStat Universal C Skin Refiner is packed with a potent 20 percent encapsulated L-ascorbic acid, a pure and stable version of vitamin C. Use antioxidants in the morning and consider them your armor.
PUT YOUR SHIELDS UP
This one’s less of a suggestion and more of a command. “While some collagen loss happens naturally, it’s exacerbated by damaging UV rays,” says Grant. Wearing sunscreen every single day will, among other things like preventing skin cancer and hyperpigmentation, give you the best chance of maintaining that plump, youthful-looking glow. Opt for a broad spectrum SPF like Supergoop! Smooth and Poreless 100% Mineral Matte Screen, and you’ll be rewarded with less sagging, fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, redness, burst capillaries, the list goes on.
REPAIR WITH RETINOL
You’ve heard us extol the transformative virtues of retinol before, and for good reason. The vitamin A-derivative is proven to help clear acne and boost cellular turnover, meaning dead skin cells are shed faster so that the surface looks brighter, fresher, and more even. Its chief job, though, is to stimulate new collagen production so skin feels firmer over time. “With regular use, retinol really works to build density, refine tone and texture, and improve the skin’s ability to regenerate,” adds Grant. The key is to find a formula that has both the right potency and delivery system without being irritating. Retinol rookies can ease into the game with a gentle version like Joanna Vargas Supernova Serum, which tackles fine lines and boosts radiance with palmitoyl oligopeptide, a less drying retinol alternative. A smart option for those looking to graduate to the prescription-strength stratosphere? Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution, which buffers redness with soothing licorice extract and wards off UV damage with cell-protecting antioxidants.