by Dr. Valerie Rosenbaum
Posted on Friday 2nd of January 2009
Collagen skin care is big business, but it is a business that is poorly regulated. There are a variety of different collagen treatments on the market. In the US, most of them fall under the supervision of the FDA’s cosmetic branch.
The FDA wants consumers to know that cosmetics are not regulated in the same way that food and drugs are regulated. They have published articles, newsletters and even a website that helps consumers learn the facts about cosmetics.
Collagen skin care products are considered cosmetics, because they do not provide health benefits. Sometimes, cosmetics include drugs, included to treat acne, eczema or other skin conditions. These drugs will be listed as “active ingredients” on the label. Sun-screening compounds are also listed as active ingredients.
The ingredients in collagen treatments are not considered active by the FDA, because they are not known to provide any benefit to the skin’s health. They are strictly for short-term improvements in the appearance. Are collagen treatments effective for that purpose?
They may provide a temporary improvement in your appearance, but they are just as likely to cause redness, irritation, inflammation or an allergic reaction like hives or rashes. You can easily see that in the before-and-after pictures published at websites selling expensive collagen skin care masks.
The faces in the photos appear to look less wrinkled, but you can also see redness, which indicates inflammation. That minor inflammation may cause a puffiness that stretches out wrinkles temporarily. But, if used on a regular basis, this inflammation can damage the collagen-fibers that make up the skin, eventually leading to more wrinkles, more redness and lost firmness.
You see, collagens are basic proteins that are constructed from amino acids within the skin’s cells. The protein in collagen treatments cannot be broken down, when applied directly to the skin, so there is no way for the cells to get the needed amino acids to actually build new fibers. One of the causes of wrinkles and an aged appearance, in general, is decreased production of new cells and fibers, which is something that naturally accompanies the aging process.
If, instead of collagen skin care products, you look for creams that contain amino acid complexes, they can penetrate the skin’s outer layers. Amino acid complexes containing small amounts of copper and zinc have been shown to stimulate the production of new cells and fibers, in clinical studies.
They also have a proven safety record. Cosmetic companies, in the US, are not required to prove that the ingredients in their products are safe, before releasing them. The FDA recommends that consumers test cosmetics on a small patch of skin, before continuing to use them.
But, if a company only includes ingredients that are safe enough to eat, then there is no reason for concern. Sometimes, it is the additives, like artificial preservatives and fragrances, in collagen treatments that cause problems. If you look for all-natural products, you’ll be happier, safer and look better in the long run.
Just remember that the most effective collagen skin care creams don’t even contain collagens. Amino acids are the ingredients to look for.
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