Medically reviewed by Jill Johnson, FNP-BC
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/3/2021
It’s a fact as old as time: As we age, skin elasticity diminishes — which contributes to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
But what exactly is skin elasticity in the first place? To understand this, you need to know a bit about the proteins in your skin.
Collagen is a protein that makes up about 75 percent of your skin. And collagen combined with elastin (another protein) is what prevents wrinkles.
These two proteins allow your skin to stretch and snap back. But as stated above, when you age, the production of collagen and elastin naturally decreases and that’s partially why you start to see wrinkles.
Environmental and lifestyle factors such as exposure to the sun, air pollution, poor diet and smoking can also reduce skin elasticity.
Here are six ways to improve skin elasticity, along with the info that backs them up.
As mentioned above, natural collagen is found in your skin. There are collagen supplements out there, though, that are touted as being able to help with everything from skin health to hair and nail strength.
At this point, though, research on whether or not collagen supplements work is limited.
One study looked at people who took collagen peptides along with vitamin C and antioxidants for three months.
A significant improvement in skin elasticity was noticed during the first month of the study.
Another study found that when people consumed a drink with collagen along with other ingredients (like hyaluronic acid) mixed in, they noticed an improvement in skin elasticity.
One thing to note about both studies: Along with collagen, other ingredients were ingested.
If you are interested in trying a collagen supplement, you’ll most likely find them in one of these forms:
Capsules: If you are okay swallowing pills, collagen capsules may work for you. Dosages vary depending on the brand you go with. Just be aware that with some collagen supplements, you may have to take multiple pills.
Powder: Collagen powder is another popular option. There are unflavored versions that can be mixed into coffee, water or any other beverage.
Gummies: Not into powder or a capsule? A collagen gummy could be a good alternative.
Retinol and tretinoin are two of the most common retinoids out there. They are cell regulators and have antioxidant effects.
Both work by increasing collagen production to plump up your skin and reduce visible signs of damage like wrinkles and dark spots. Translation: They can help improve skin elasticity.
This anti-aging cream contains both retinol and tretinoin, for extra impact in smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.
You’ve likely seen this ingredient listed on skincare product bottles — and especially items created for dry skin like moisturizer.
There’s a good reason for this! Hyaluronic acid can bind over one thousand times its weight in water.
This means hyaluronic acid can help hydrate skin to keep it feeling more elastic.
Research has also shown that ingesting hyaluronic acid supplements may improve skin elasticity, along with reducing wrinkles.
Laser treatments are in-office procedures where a laser is used on the face in an effort to encourage collagen and elastin production.
These treatments generally do not hurt and can also improve skin texture.
One study from 2018 employed two different types of lasers on skin during the same day: a non-ablative fractional laser and intense pulsed light therapy.
The study results suggest that both treatments used together had a positive effect on the production of new collagen, and the researchers concluded that these treatments together increased skin elasticity.
A healthcare provider can also perform a chemical peel to help resurface and expose fresher skin, promoting a glowier and more youthful look.
Peels can also help promote collagen production, contributing to better skin elasticity over time.
When you get this treatment, a healthcare professional applies a chemical peel that resurfaces the top layer of your skin. This will remove the damaged layer, allowing skin to regenerate.
It’s a good idea to engage in behavior that won’t fast-track the loss of skin elasticity. Here are three things you can do right away:
Wear SPF: Solar radiation damages the skin at all levels, which includes a reduction of collagen-elastin fibers. It’s important to always slather on SPF. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen formula that has a SPF of 30 or higher. This can also help protect you from skin cancer.
Stop smoking: Cigarettes put you at risk for cancer — and people who smoke tend to have less skin elasticity than those who do not smoke.
Eat well: A diet high in antioxidants like vitamin C and lycopene (tomatoes are high in this) could help encourage skin elasticity.
Loss of skin elasticity can contribute to wrinkles and the overall appearance of aging. Thankfully, working ways to improve your skin’s elasticity into your skincare routine can be easy.
The key? Ensuring that you find ways to boost the production of two proteins in your skin: collagen and elastin.
As mentioned above, these proteins are heavy hitters when it comes to skin elasticity.
While more research needs to be done, there are some studies that show that taking collagen or hyaluronic supplements and using retinoids may help.
Additionally, you can opt for in-office treatments like a chemical peel or laser treatment to address skin elasticity.
To learn more about improving skin elasticity, and/or to find treatment geared specifically to your anti-aging skincare needs, speak with a healthcare professional. They can help you find the best approach for your skin type.