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collagen fibers

Why Does Collagen Production Decrease After We Turn 20?

June 2, 2015

Skin ageing is a fact of life; everyone will face it sooner or later. In fact, our collagen production decreases as soon as we turn 20. At Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia, we have many anti-ageing treatments which can slow down the effects of ageing. However, in order to understand why we age, it is important to know the basics of the skin.

What does the skin consist of?skin-layers

The skin consists of three layers and these are:

  • epidermis
  • dermis
  • subcutaneous tissue

The epidermis is the skin’s surface, it is a layer rich in keratin that is water-resistant and tough. This is where all the dead skin cells are shed, and where melanin (responsible for producing the colour of our skin) is found. The second layer is called the dermis, which is composed of blood vessels, fat, nerves, elastin and collagen fibres. The collagen fibres and elastin provides the skin with elasticity.

Why does our skin age?

“You cannot stop the ageing process that takes place over the years. After the age of 20, the dermis layer produces 1% less collagen each year. It is a natural ageing process known as intrinsic ageing,” says Dr Garry Cussell, who is the principal doctor at Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia. “The collagen and elastin fibres become thicker and looser as we age, which means our skin is less elastic, which eventually causes wrinkling and sagging.”

After the age of 20, the dermis layer produces 1% less collagen each year.

In our twenties, the skin’s exfoliation process decreases by 28%. This means our dead skin cells stick together for longer periods of time. In our thirties, the transfer of moisture from the dermis to the epidermis is slowed and fat cells begin to shrink. These effects make the skin look dull and thin. In our forties, collagen has been reduced signficantly – meaning the collagen and elastin fibres break, losing their elasticity in the process. Finally, in our fifties, the skin becomes dry and is easily bruised as the sebaceous glands (which produce oil) have decreased in size. In women, menopause also decreases oestrogen levels, leaving the skin drier and less toned.

Are there ways to delay the ageing process?

Yes, there is another type of ageing called extrinsic ageing. Unlike the previous cause of skin ageing, it can be controlled because it is a result of environmental damage and lifestyle factors.


“One of the biggest causes of ageing is smoking. Not only does smoking cause health complications such as lung cancer and heart attacks, it also accelerates the ageing process,” says Kirsten Tiplady, one of our clinicians at Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia. “This is because when you smoke, the blood vessels from your epidermis narrows.”The decreased blood flow to your skin prevents oxygen and other nutrients from reaching the skin. This then damages collagen and elasticity fibres in the skin, which accelerates wrinkles and causes sagging.

Smoking also reduces the skin’s moisture as well as well as vitamins, which are required for neutralising free radical damage. This eventually causes skin dryness. “Every time you light up a cigarette, you will need around one litre of moisturiser to replace all the hydration that has been lost through smoking,” says Kirsten.

Every time you light up a cigarette, you will need around one litre of moisturiser to replace all the hydration that has been lost through smoking.

Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to improve skin damaged by smoking. As the blood flow improves, your skin receives more oxygen nutrients, helping you develop a healthier complexion.

Always slip, slop, slap!

Excessive sun exposure also accelerates the skin ageing process. This is because ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes damage to DNA and molecules, which produces more pigment called melanin being produced while the skin to protect itself from the damages caused by radiation.

If that does not alarm you, you will be shocked to find out that skin cancer has increased by more than 250% among children, adolescents and young adults since 1973. Not only the incidence of melanoma increased, but researchers from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) have also discovered that the participants in the study had age spots and wrinkles which were normally seen in middle aged patients.

Are there any measures to protect our skin to keep it from ageing more than it needs to?

Prevention is key to minimising wrinkles, sun spots and uneven skin tone. We strongly skinfit-sunscreenrecommend an SPF of at least 35 to protect yourself from UV rays. One sunscreen we can recommend is the SkinFit Zinc Protect – Broad Protection Sunscreen -$56. After the age of 25, it is recommended to use a Vitamin A and Vitamin C products to slow down the ageing process.

Treatment peels can improve the appearance of dull, wrinkled skin. Some of the peels we recommend at Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia include:

  • Benefit Peel
  • Timeless Peel
  • Retinol Brulee

These peels all contain vital nutrients which can penetrate deep into the skin layers, which stimulates significant cell turnover, which leads to more smoother looking skin.

There are also non-invasive treatments which can also build collagen and improve the skin’s appearance as well. The current treatments most commonly requested by our patients at the clinic include:

If you are interested in any of the treatments, skin care products or have any concerns you have about your skin, come to Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia for a free consultation with one of our experienced practitioners.

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