What Do Sharks and Our Skin Have in Common?

What Do Sharks and Our Skin Have in Common?

It is the most abundant protein in the human body and it’s also one of the primary components in the make up of sharks. Since it’s Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, what better time to talk about the connective tissue we know as collagen, and the role it plays in humans and sharks?

For sharks it’s what makes up their dermal denticles – a fancy name for the scales that serve as their outer skeleton. This group of fish is also characterized by their cartilaginous (cartilage) skeleton, which in essence is composed of collagen fibers. In sharks it makes them durable and flexible, and also reduces their weight – cartilage is approximately half the normal density of bone.

All of this is very interesting, but you may be wondering what exactly collagen does for us. As I mentioned it is the most abundant protein in humans. It forms in very fine fibers in our tendons, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, and skin, among other areas.

As it relates to skin, collagen is responsible for fighting the appearance of lines, wrinkles and overall sagginess. In other words, it keeps everything firm. Unfortunately as we age, production of this protein decreases, and environmental assaults continually work against us to further deteriorate it. Why does this happen? What is our defense?

Damaging elements like the sun, pollution, stress, smoking, and free radicals are slowly, but constantly wearing down collagen. Fibroblast cells step in to repair the damaged collagen fibers by generating new ones, but this process decreases with age. When the process can no longer be completed, wrinkles and lines typically appear and skin starts to lose some of its firmness.

What is our Defense?

Well for starters, it might be time to take a look at your lifestyle habits. Proper sleep, stress control and a healthy diet play a significant role in collagen production. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants will help reduce inflammation (which impacts collagen production) and fight free radicals. A good sunscreen is also incredibly important. I’ve said it before, but 90 percent of our skin’s aging can be attributed to sun exposure.

As for defending the skin externally, there are a number of skin care ingredients that can help counter the damage and stimulate collagen production. These include retinols, peptides, vitamin C and E, powerhouse antioxidants, and minerals like hematite.

Tip: start with a thorough cleanse, so active ingredients can better penetrate the skin, apply a powerful peptide (like Mineral Freeze) and antioxidants (such as Complex VI), and if your eyes need special attention use the Eye Firm. If it’s daytime, use a sunscreen.

Soon you’ll be a collagen-building machine, but I can’t promise it will make you as durable or sleek as a shark.