How to save your face with thick skin *ahem*

In my post on what can cause our skin to become thinner,  I mentioned that I would be sharing ways to thicken the dermis layer.  It took longer than usual to write because I wanted to verify something I was using before discussing it.  So this entry discusses a three-pronged strategy to strengthen the dermis layer without invasive procedures based on research as well as personal experience.  Before reading, do note that you should use your discretion when deciding if the recommendation or product will work for your skin type.

Dermis is the thicker skin layer that lies beneath the epidermis and is composed largely of the protein collagen. In fact, collagen accounts for up to 75% of the weight of the dermis, and is responsible for the resilience and elasticity of the skin. Hence, any attempts to thicken the dermis layer would mean you need to produce more collagen.

1st strategy: eating the right food
Eating the right food can help improve the elasticity of your skin from inside out. Some of the bad skin food include sugar, simple carbohydrates and processed food and beverages that will cause skin inflammation.

Instead, include food that are rich in antioxidants, proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids such as  salmon, tuna and other oily fish, nuts, berries, avocado, eggs and food containing genistein, that is proven to be an anti-inflammatory agent (source). Genistein is one of several known isoflavones and are found in  soybeans and soy products like tofu and legumes. Miso, a fermented soybean product consumed daily by Japanese,  is also a rich source of isoflavones (source).

Also, according to WHFoods, consumption of foods high in lysine and proline are potentially helpful in collagen support. And you may like to know that vitamin C is required to change proline into hydroxyproline (the collagen form) and lysine into hydroxylysine (once again, the collagen form).

Additionally, you may also want to supplement your diet with appropriate antioxidants plus nutritional supplements and drink 8 glasses of water per day to remain sufficiently hydrated.

However, do not that you should maintain a balanced diet and not try to overeat these foods even if they’re good for your skin.  As the saying goes, “too much of anything is not a good thing!”  Also consult expert opinions when in doubt especially if you have some health concerns.

2nd strategy: applying the right topicals
Some topical skin care products have been proven to fight free radicals, stimulate collagen synthesis, stimulate the lower layers of the skin to heal themselves or cushion collagen protein and fill in all the gaps between them.  These include:
– Vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid)
– Matrixyl or palmitoyl pentapeptide-3
– Tretinoin or Retin-A
– Copper Peptide
– Coenzyme Q10
– Hyaluronic acid or sometimes listed as sodium hyaluronate

Personally, I have good experience using vitamin C serums. Because they stimulate collagen synthesis, they always make my pores look smaller. But the problem with vitamin C products is that they can be highly unstable since vitamin C oxidizes in contact with air. My skin doesn’t react much to products containing Hyaluronic acid though and I have no experience using the others. Retin-A is particularly tricky because while it thickens the inner layers of our skin, it can thin out the top layers of our skin as well. Some have suggested that products like Retin-A should be used moderately and in combination with products containing antioxidants.

3rd strategy: using collagen induction therapy
This is going to get a lot of attention and also controversial opinions. Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT) is also known as medical skin needling or micro-needling. CIT aims to stimulate the body’s own production of collagen by causing a minute injury to the dermis, which results in the start of the wound healing cascade. To do this, you will need to use what is commonly known as a derma roller comprising a series of fine surgical steel micro-needles, which are used to puncture the skin and cause wounds and inflammation. If the procedure is done by a dermatologist, it is considered a minimally-invasive skin rejuvenation treatment because the roller used by doctors have longer needles, usually measuring 1.5mm in size that can penetrate the dermis layer. However, the same procedure can be done at home, using rollers with shorter needles, from 0.25mm to 0.5mm.

Well, I have been using a roller measuring 0.5mm over the past few weeks on my face now. My intention was to get rid of some of my acne scarring and that has proven to be rather slow. However, I noticed that my skin is getting slightly firmer with each roll and hence, I believe that the roller has helped to stimulate collagen for my skin. For the curious, no, it does not create marks on the face and neither is it painful. But it is obviously, not meant for everybody. I will be giving a full review on dermarolling in time to come so stay tuned.

Overall thoughts
I think if you want to protect your skin, you should first try to protect it from thinning because protection is obviously easier than recovery. Hence, do heed my earlier advice on avoiding excessive sun exposure as well as frequent aggressive treatments. Bear in mind that you should also try to understand your own skin before deciding what course of treatment or products to use. Obviously, someone with already thin skin is not going to do too well with using products containing Retin-A for example. You might need to consider a combination of strategies. And my best bet is, live a healthy lifestyle!

Do share if you have other ways to let us all have thicker skin!


  1. minsin says:

    wow. you makes me excited about derma roller. Mind to share with me where did you get them?

  2. mel says:

    hello! it doesn’t hurt? the roller looks painful though.

  3. zhenling says:

    wow. derma rolling sounds dangerous. considering how it is outlawed in singapore as well. still looking forward to your review though =]

  4. zhenling says:

    oh! and please include after pictures! would like to see how ‘bloody’ the procedure is haha

  5. Rinka says:

    the derma roller thing looks awesome! i wonder who comes up with these things lol

    looking forward to seeing your results!

  6. sesame says:

    *ahem* I actually got two now and planning to get another one soon. One of them is from a personal source and another is from the link I provided in the entry.

  7. sesame says:

    It’s like ant biting…a bit smarting afterwards but not painful. I use 0.5mm so my skin doesn’t bleed. Those longer than 0.5mm are likely more painful. May need to apply some lotion to numb the skin first.

  8. sesame says:

    Is derma rolling outlawed here? I am not aware cos I know that a few dermatologists and aesthetic clinics are currently offering derma rolling treatments. They call it micro needling rejuvenation or collagen induction therapy.

  9. sesame says:

    It’s not bloody at all. Just some redness. Those that are bloody are those done at the clinics by the dermatologists.

  10. sesame says:

    If I’m not wrong, the product originated in Germany.

  11. CT says:

    I am going to use the derma roller on my calves, hopefully can reduce my stretch marks. No pain, no gain.

  12. Hanns says:

    awesome! thanks for sharing them ? I am using a vit. c toner now and i saw an improvement on my skin,looks hydrated and plump.oh, btw, does drinking beverages with collagen count?

  13. sesame says:

    For calves, the skin is quite thick isn’t it? So you may need longer needlers or a more intensive roll to achieve any results. I have no idea how it’ll work for the calves…it’s best to find out more.

  14. sesame says:

    Drinks probably have little effect. I would say the collagen supplements will probably do better. Doctors will tell you that we cannot ingest collagen but I’ve taken some before and found my face looking slightly fatter then.

  15. pearly says:

    hi sesame,

    this is a fantastic information especially about the roller treatment. I wonder my sensitive suitable for this ?

    oh yah, looking forward to your coming blog post about your review on using the roller ?

  16. sesame says:

    Sensitive skin is quite tricky because the needling can make your skin very red. The after care is very important or it might cause inflammation. I’ll try to find out more and address this when I write about it.

  17. Jo says:

    the roller sounds scary, i try to avoid wounds on my face as much as possible though.. you must be very brave to try that!

    Have you ever try supplements such as Coenzyme Q10, Hyaluronic acid drinks, collagen? I always wonder if they work? Or would they affect health in anyway?

  18. pearly says:

    thanks in advance sesame , for the effort to find out further information. You’re always helpful , no wonder your readers keep increasing ?

  19. sesame says:

    I try… ?

  20. sesame says:

    There are no wounds visible wounds…but yeah, this is not for everyone and I took awhile to consider before doing it.

    I’ve tried collagen supplements. They would help plump up the face but they’re good only when you continue taking them. As for side effects, I don’t know but I had a friend who flared up suddenly with eczema after taking one of the brands.

  21. Jo says:

    OMG, that is scary~ which brand did your friend try? I’ll probably avoid that one!

  22. Lissy says:

    I’ve had great sucess with Neutrogena “Deep Wrinkle Moisture Night” cream, active ingredient Retinol A which I started using a few weeks ago. Noticed big improvement in thickness of my skin and I supplement this with daily facial massages.

  23. deb says:

    I always feel like i’m the only one but retinols have done nothing but damage my skin and make it thinner. I’m not sure if that’s a precursor to thicker skin but the immediate damage that i endured is still something i deal with to this day. I just focus on actives that help build up my skin without exfoliation.

    I wanted to ask if you’d heard anything about niacinamide. I’ve been reading up on it and supposedly, it helps repair the skin barrier. I bought a bit of it from garden of wisdom and plan to add it to a DIY toner. I’m going to try it out for a month or so and will be back with results!

  24. sesame says:

    Yes, I’ve read about it being good for treating acne and hyperpigmentation. I may try to order it in time and make something.

    I spoke to an expert about Retinols the other day and she was of the opinion that because it thins the skin, it may cause pigmentation issues.

  25. sesame says:

    Meiji…but not sure if it’s entirely due to that. However, she could only remember eating that as nothing else had changed for her. She could have eczema and maybe the supplement triggered it.

    But have heard many raves about Meij’s as well…so better to do your own research too.

  26. kelly says:

    hi, i have bad redness when i smile or laugh or just contort my face in anyway. The blood really comes to the surface on my very pale skin. My skin appears to be very thin. Can anyone help with thickening my skin eg supplements etc


  27. Barbara says:

    I purchased a derma roller, several years ago, from a company that sold creams, etc. to be used in conjunction with it. I know some, if not all of them, were formulated with copper peptides. I was hesitant to use their samples because I could never ascertain from whence they were sourced. My question is, are there any particular products that you would advise rolling into the skin? Thanks, in advance, for your recommendation. Barbara

  28. sesame says:

    I applied a very liquid serum that was meant for skin brightening and pigmentation. As long as you know the product/ingredient you use would not cause inflammation or pore clogging, then it should be fine. Do not use cream or oil based products cos they’ll definitely clog the pores, which are “opened up” during derma rolling.

  29. missgolddigger says:

    U can eat wakame to get hyalu..acid…i do it daily.

  30. sesame says:

    Wakame? Oh that’s interesting. I’ll find out where to get it. Thanks for the tip. ?

  31. ruchi says: was really gud to read..i hv thin facial skin then my other body parts..though i care a lot for my facial skin bt it looks darker then my rest even gets more darker if i m sad..frequent difference z visible..plz help me why this z so..n wat to do…plzzzzzzzzzz

  32. carol says:

    collagen internally has worked the best for me

  33. Yola says:

    Eating the right food was good to our skin. It is also better that we are going to drink 8 glasses of water or even more. For it cleanse the toxic inside our body. For complying this we are obviously taking good care of our body.
    Yola last post is:

  34. Sesame says:

    True but also remember to drink quality water.

  35. aida klun says:

    which do you recommend?

  36. Brian says:

    …and never, NEVER use steroid creams!!!

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  38. Ariella says:

    My skin is thin, oily, with large pores. Do you have any recommendations of organic creams and cleansers?

  39. Sesame says:

    Where are you based?

  40. Xien says:

    Retinoid will thin the skin and make it look worse before it gets better.. U need to give it time to break in. Yes it exfoliates the upper layers of the skin and makes the fine lines look worse at first but it thickens the deeper layers after u used it for more than 6 mths. I use niacinamide moisturizer 45 mins after the retinoid (this will help reduce the redness and irritation caused by retinoid). I use vitamin C serum as well but I can’t use it daily as it exfoliates even more than the retinoid cream, making my face over polished.

  41. Sesame Chew says:

    Thanks for the advise. Yes, did understand that it gets worse before it gets better. My concern is while it gets worse, we need to take additional care especially when it comes to sun protection. I like your idea of using niacinamide after the retinoid to soothe the skin!

  42. Priya says:

    Hi. Beautifully written. But still i have something to ask you. My favial skin is too thin than any other parts of the body. It looks too pinkish and i really hate that difference. When i browsed to find something that mske my skin tjicker, many suggestions listed one thing in common- Retin A. I did saw, even doctors answered to use it topically for best results. But you have posted, to give a second thought on it. Well, i have no idea about these. But can you please be more specific, why it shouldnt be used, or it should be used along with anyother mixed? Your reply would really help. I will be happy if replied personally too to below mail address mentioned. Thank you!

  43. Lisa says:

    Hi, Sesame,

    My undereye bagging problem is not caused by genetics or aging, but by a severe sinus illness i had 8 years ago that blocked all outlets for sinus drainage: I woke up one morning and my eyes were swelled out the size of large eggs with fluid that had been forced out all around the eyes. This finally subsided but stretched out the skin below my eyes. Since then, the area under my eyes never looks right and developers bags with any histamine problem .

    What would you suggest I try to repair this under eye skin back to the thicker condition it was in before,? I already eat as u suggest, and take vitamins and c…

    Thank you for reading this!

    I want to thicken this skin back and tightening it

  44. Christina says:

    Hello, What kind of collagen did you ingest for your face to become fatter? Any help would be great! Also, do you use any serums before micro-needling? How often can you do it without overdoing it?

    Thank you!

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