A Guide to Plant Powered Anti-Ageing: What Is Collagen? and How Can We Use Natural Alternatives to Love our Skin & Bodies?

Illustration from @juana_gomez_m

As our bodies mature and grow older with us, we can expect to notice natural changes. However, something that many of us worry about is how those signs of ageing may show themselves on our face and skin.


Although we might do all we can to delay it, fine lines and wrinkles are a natural part of our skins maturing process. Popular media often encourages us to reach for collagen supplements and creams that promise to preserve our youthful beauty and value, but we are strong believers that our value is not defined by the way we look - and especially not by the elasticity of our skin.


Caring for ourselves & our skin often starts with the way we treat our bodies. From the nourishment we get from our diet and lifestyle to the types of products we use. Embracing our skin type and feeding it with plant-based care puts us on a journey of self-love that starts with understanding how the skin works.


What Causes Aging?


Everybody is different and a wide variety of factors can affect ageing for different individuals.


However, for most of us, the body’s natural collagen production starts to slow down around the time we reach our mid-twenties. As we age and our bodies rhythms change, the reduction in collagen production means the skin starts to lose elasticity and show signs of ageing. 


What is Collagen & How is it Made?


Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It’s made of dense fibres and plays a key part in making up the structure of our skin, bones, connective tissues and cartilage. Though collagen is most heavily associated with the skin, it’s found in much of our body including our blood vessels, eyes, teeth and hair. The name actually comes from the Greek word ‘kólla’, meaning glue, as collagen can be considered to be the glue that holds our body together.


The body makes collagen by combining two amino acids – glycine and proline. The two amino acids come together, with the help of Vitamin C, to create procollagen. When the body has produced enough procollagen, the molecules will fuse into a web shape to create collagen. The presence of Vitamin C is essential, without it the body cannot produce collagen.


It is natural that we will produce less collagen as our bodies mature, but by nurturing the body we can take steps to love our skin and slow down the process of ageing.


 Image from: medicalnewstoday.com


Collagen Supplements

Collagen is found in the connective tissues of meat, for example, chicken or pork skin. There is a belief that increasing the protein in your diet will increase your collagen levels. However, as the body digests collagen-rich food the molecules are broken down into Amino Acids before being reassembled, meaning there is no direct translation between collagen consumed into your body and collagen created.


There are two types of popular collagen supplements that can be taken to try and improve skin elasticity or muscle mass – hydrolysed collagen & gelatine. Both are made from animal products, typically bovine or marine. There are collagen supplements made for vegans which are genetically engineered with P. pastoris bacteria and four human genes that code for collagen.


A 2019 study showed that skin elasticity did improve in women after taking a supplement but there is limited data available for the safety and efficacy of collagen supplements.


Natural Alternatives


The way our skin matures is largely down to genetics (known as intrinsic ageing). But our lifestyle choices can give us some control over the way our skin looks, and there are many ways to nourish & love our skin with natural alternatives.

Lifestyle Habits…


Sun damage is known to damage the skin, leading to premature ageing and fine lines. Protecting your skin from harsh UV rays with daily sun cream can go a long way to prevent ageing. Staying hydrated has also been proven to improve the way our skin ages, as has getting better sleep. It all starts with caring for our bodies in a way that nourishes our internal system for producing collagen.


Vitamin Rich Diet…


Our bodies cannot produce their own Vitamin C (the key ingredient for collagen production) so it is key that we enjoy a vitamin-rich diet. Luckily, Vitamin C is often found in plant-based foods such as -


  • Green tea

  • Flax seeds & nuts

  • Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach & avocado

  • Fruits such as oranges, blueberries & papaya.


Foods with high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties support the bodies internal systems to prevent premature ageing.


However, there are also some foods that can speed up ageing. Don’t worry, we’re definitely not about to suggest that you make any dramatic diets changes like cutting our all sugar and caffeine. However, studies have shown that reducing your intake of the following foods can slow down ageing -


  • Olive oil (& fried foods)

  • White bread & refined carbohydrates

  • White sugar (try swapping to honey)

  • Caffeine


A Dutch study from 2019 showed that a healthy diet has a massive impact on reducing facial wrinkles. The study showed that women who ate large amounts of red meat were more likely to show signs of ageing on their face than women with a lot of fruit in their diet.


Natural Skincare…


Once we have cared for our body internally, we can look at ways we can nourish the skin externally.


As our skin matures, its ability to retain moisture decreases which can lead to more fine lines or wrinkles. It is therefore important to keep the skin hydrated with a gentle moisturiser or oil. Jojoba is non-comedogenic and mimics our skins natural sebum to support the skins rhythms.

Natural skincare collagen boosters that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and omegas can also help protect skin cells from damage. For example, Rose Water contains naturally occurring Vitamin C and has rebalancing properties to maintain a healthy PH balance for the skin.

Facial massage techniques such as Gua Sha can also help reduce signs of ageing. A smooth crystal tool is pulled across the skin to disrupt the lower layers of skin and improve circulation. As blood rushes to the surface of the skin, the area becomes more oxygenated which contributes to healthy collagen production. The ancient Chinese massage has been used to smooth, massage and rejuvenate the face for centuries. You can read more about how Gua Sha supports the skin here.

Choosing the right skincare for yourself is about getting to know your skin, and will be different for everyone. However here are a few tips for getting started:


  • We recommend avoiding anything too heavy which will clog & weigh down the skin.

  • Pick natural, organic ingredients that have been used in skincare for centuries.

  • Look for skin regenerative herbs and botanicals such as Calendula, which stimulates collagen production and helps your skin to retain moisture - both of which are important in supporting your skins natural cycle.

  • Avoid fad powders and creams that don’t have any scientific backing.


A plant-based, preventative approach to anti-ageing doesn’t just support the skin, it nurtures the health of the whole body. By reconnecting to natural remedies and ancient medicines we can nourish the health of our skin and embrace our bodies natural ageing cycle at the same time.

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