How much collagen you lose annually is influenced by several factors, most notably your age: Starting in your mid-to-late 20s, the balance between how much you produce and how much you’re losing tips. “Our bodies always balance collagen production and degradation,” board-certified dermatologist Gary Goldenberg, M.D., tells us about collagen loss. “When we are young, our bodies produce more collagen than we break down. That balance tips the wrong way with age since tissue regeneration decreases.”
After you pass this threshold (which is influenced by genetics), you lose about 1% of your collagen every year. But this isn’t the only thing that influences the rate of your collagen loss. For starters, several habits accelerate collagen’s depletion.
Smoking and unprotected UV exposure are the major factors: One study observed collagen under UV light and found that there was a “significant decrease” in collagen structure afterward. As for smoking, it’s obviously problematic for a myriad of reasons, but for the skin: “Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen delivered to tissues. Therefore, tissue cannot regenerate and is more likely to become denigrated,” says Goldenberg. But other habits to look out for can be quite insidious: everyday stress, high-sugar diets, inadequate sleep, and even using too aggressive topical ingredients can all contribute to collagen loss.
Finally, hormones and major (life stage-related) shifts in hormone production will alter your collagen production. Particularly menopause. People who experience menopause see a dramatic drop (about 30%) in collagen production during that time.
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