What do collagen and elastin do?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Collagen, a protein, supports and your body's tissues and, literally, keeps your body from falling apart. Collagen is the primary component of the body's connective tissue. About 80% of the dermis -- the part of your skin that's under the epidermis (outer layer) -- is collagen. Collagen gives your skin strength. Elastin, as its name implies, enables your skin to stretch and bounce back; it is elastic. 
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
Collagen and elastin are the structure of the skin that maintains both elasticity and firmness. Fibroblast cells create both collagen and elastin matrix that can be activated by glycolic acid and other peels. The special fibroblast cells are found in the papillary level of the second layer of the skin (dermis). Many creams and lotions are marketed to promote collagen formation by fibroblastic activiation.
Patricia Farris, MD

Collagen and elastin are fibers that make up the supporting structure of the skin.  Collagen gives skin its firmness while elastin keeps skin tight.  Both of these fibers are plentiful in young skin and start to break down with natural aging and as a result of sun exposure. 

While there are lots of collagen and elastin creams available these molecules are far too large to penetrate the skin.  The only way to boost collagen and elastin in the skin is to turn on the fibroblast cells that produce these fibers. This can be done using cosmeceuticals containing prescription retinoids, retinol, alpha hydroxys or peptides and by having procedures like microdermabrasion, chemical peels and laser resurfacing. This combination of cosmeceuticals, sunscreen and in office procedures is the best way to keep your skin looking young, firm and tight.   

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
The fibroblast cells' extremely important function is to make collagen and elastin (the darlings of the cosmeceutical world). The skin's healing process is driven by these cells, which race to repair skin by making a scar or replenishing collagen to rebuild the structural integrity of the skin. It's probably no surprise to learn that as we age these cells get lazy and slow down production of this coveted protein. 
Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

More About this Book

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

Continue Learning about Healthy Skin

A Virtual Journey Through the Skin
A Virtual Journey Through the Skin
In this video, dermatologist Doris Day shares an up close look at the skin. Learn how the different layers of the skin function and what the skin reve...
Read More
How does skin age?
James M.. WilmottJames M.. Wilmott
There is no simple answer for the reasons that skin ages the way it does.  There are many complicati...
More Answers
6 Foods Your Skin Will Love
6 Foods Your Skin Will Love6 Foods Your Skin Will Love6 Foods Your Skin Will Love6 Foods Your Skin Will Love
Fill your plate with nutrient-rich foods for younger-looking, glowing skin.
Start Slideshow
Tips to Manage Your Child's Eczema
Tips to Manage Your Child's Eczema

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.