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3 Hero Ingredients That Actually Restore Collagen + Prevent Aging Skin

Hannah Frye
Author:
March 17, 2023
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
Image by Liliya Rodnikova / Stocksy
March 17, 2023
We carefully vet all products and services featured on mindbodygreen using our commerce guidelines. Our selections are never influenced by the commissions earned from our links.

Some things are better treated before they even begin—aging skin included. Preventive skin care is naturally going to be easier than going back and softening preestablished fine lines and wrinkles.

You'll want to keep these hero ingredients on your radar if your goal is smooth, supple skin. Think of this as a quick healthy aging tool kit to keep on hand:

1. Retinol

Retinol is the classic healthy aging skin care product, but do you know why? "Retinol binds to retinoid receptors within skin cells," board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., once told mbg. This "activates genes that upregulate collagen production."

Studies back this claim, too: In one small human study1, retinol treatment stimulated collagen production in mature skin, thus decreasing the appearance of wrinkling. However, it is important to note that use of retinol can make the skin more susceptible to UV damage—so don't skimp on your daily SPF.

Not sure where to find a grade-A retinol serum? Shop our top picks here.

2. Collagen supplements

Collagen supplements have been particularly buzzy in recent years, and there's a pretty good reason why: There's significant research showcasing their all-around skin benefits.

The main benefit? Promoting your natural collagen and elastin production2. This is key for aging skin, as research shows your collagen levels begin to decline by 1% each year2, starting around your mid-20s.

However, not all collagen supplements will work the same. Most of the promising research on this topic comes from hydrolyzed collagen peptides specifically, so make sure you check that off the list when you shop—here are nine glowing recommendations from a nutrition Ph.D. 

3. Glycolic acid

If you're already on the retinol train, you may consider adding a chemical exfoliant to your skin care routine as well (just don't use them on the same night!). You'll want to use these products two to three times a week as tolerated, as research shows that regularly exfoliating your skin can further enhance collagen production.

What's more, studies have shown that six months of using topical glycolic acid stimulated a 27% increase in epidermal thickness3. This is exactly what you want for tighter, younger-looking skin.

Plus, glycolic acid is an AHA, meaning it's simultaneously exfoliating and hydrating. You can read more about the ins and outs of this powerhouse ingredient here if you're curious.

The takeaway.

If you want to get a head start on delaying skin aging, you'll want to focus on skin care from the inside and the outside. More specifically, incorporate a collagen supplement into your daily routine and add both retinol and glycolic acid to your topical lineup—but never on the same night.

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