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.
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!