Sunday, 21 August 2011

Collagen in skincare and a review of LAC Taut Collagen infused mask

The dermis, comprised of collagen and elastin, maintains the structure, strength, flexibility and elasticity of the skin. As we age (or damage the skin by smoking or with sun exposure), collagen is lost causing the skin to sag and wrinkles to appear. There are a myriad of products on the market which contain collagen and claim firm the skin and reduce wrinkles. Unfortunately, I do not think that it is possible for collagen to penetrate the epidermis of the skin to reach the dermis, where it is needed.

There are four different routes molecules can take to penetrate the skin: through sweat glands, down hair follicles, it can squeeze though narrow junctions between cells and it can also enter bit micro lesions in the skin (ie flaking due to dryness or scratches on the skin). It is believed that the largest sized molecule that can penetrate the skin is about 500 Dalton's*. The molecular size of collagen is 300 kilo Dalton's. So, this is the equivalent of trying to stuff a beach ball that is 3 metres in diameter down a hole that is 5 centimeters in diameter. Yes, molecules can elongate and stretch themselves to squeeze through gaps in the cell junctions but the sheer size of collagen makes this impossible. Therefore, in your skincare you don't actually want collagen to be an ingredient. Instead, what you need is a growth factor that can penetrate the skin and then promote collagen production. Pro-collagen is one example or another is epidermal growth factor (EGF) which I have previously written about here.

I received a sample of the LAC Taut Collagen infused mask at the The Sydney International Spa & Beauty Expo. I have to confess that, for the reasons mentioned above, I was not expecting much from this mask but as I love to try beauty products, I still thought that I'd give it a go. According to GNC, the LAC Taut® Collagen Infusion Mask:

  is a facial mask that slips luxuriously onto your face to infuse concentrated premium collagen-enriched essence to firm, hydrate and brighten your complexion in just 7-10 minutes.

• This intensive treatment mask smooths deep and fine lines, infuses skin with precious moisture and lightens stubborn skin discolorations and dull skin.

• Its antioxidant ingredients target dark spots and wrinkles caused by ageing and environmental pollution

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Soluble Collagen, Hydrolyzed collagen, Betain, Sodium Dilauramidoglutamide Lysine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Magnesium Ascorbly Phosphate, Squalene, Triethylhexanoin, Phytosteryl/Behenyl/Octyldodesyl/Lauroyl Glutamate, Tocopherol, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polyglyceryl-2 Oleate, Phenoxy-ethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben

My review
The mask itself was easy enough to apply. I find that I can never get cloth masks complete smooth but I guess it probably doesn't matter because the product still comes in contact with the skin. Initially, it felt quite cool and refreshing on though it soon warmed up with my skin temperature.

The directions said to apply it for 7-10 minutes. Usually, I would put a mask like this on for around 30 minutes, whilst I had a bath. These days my bath times are limited so instead I applied it whilst I supervised The Crazy Kid having his bath. Unfortunately, the poor little tyke is quite sick at the moment so he didn't last long in his bath at all (usually I have to drag him out after 45 minutes when the water is stone cold and I am bored silly!). I think I had the mask on for a maximum of 10 minutes, though it was probably closer to 5. When The Crazy Kid started to cry to be let out, I quickly pulled the mask off and wiped the excess around my face, neck and decolletage then completely forgot about it whilst I dealt with the little guy.

About an hour or two later, I was relaxing on the couch when I ran my hand over my face - I was shocked how soft and firm my skin felt. It had been feeling a little bit tight, but in a good way; however, this was the first time I noticed just how soft it was. Naturally I did what every narcissistic beauty lover would do and ran to the bathroom to have a bit of a perv. My skin looked so hydrated. It was really plumped and refreshed looking. This was particularly impressive as I had been looking after my sick little boy for 3 days now and was quite exhausted (I may have even broken a world record for the most nappy changes in one day - though you didn't want to know that!). The following morning, my skin still felt soft and plump - though it had lost the tight feeling of the previous night.

So, if the collagen can't penetrate the skin, then how did the mask work? I think that it is actually due to some of the other ingredients. Butylene Glycol is a humectant, commonly used in skincare, that is rapidly absorbed by the skin. A humectant is a substance that helps a product retain moisture - so in skincare it helps the skin stay moisturised. Glycerin is also  humectant. So your first three ingredients in the mask are water plus two humectants - very moisturising. Betain is a substance that protects against the effects of dehydration - it prevents water from leaving the cells (an osmotic protector). I am not going to go through any more of the ingredients because you can already see that this is a super moisturising mask that not only attracts water to the skin but also prevents water from leaving it.

Would I use it again? Yes, I probably would. However, I would be using it for the moisturising effect that it had on my skin, as opposed to any proclaimed effects of the collagen. You can buy 5 of these masks for $39.60 from GNC so it is not too badly priced. I'd use it as a mask to plump and moisturise my skin before a special night out.

I have to admit that this is only the second cloth mask that I have used, after the SKII Facial Treatment Mask. The SKII mask retails for about $25 per mask so $8 per mask seems much more reasonable to me. I'd love to hear if you have found a cheaper one out there that is effective.

Finally, I would just like to say that the opinions stated here on the efficacy of collagen are my own. If you believe that they are wrong then I would love to hear as I am always eager to learn more. I know that there are other delivery methods that allow larger molecules to penetrate the skin but could not find any information on this product.

What is your favourite cloth mask? Do you use any beauty products which contain collagen?

All opinions stated in this blog are my own. I have no affiliation with LAC Taut or GNC and received no remuneration for my comments. This mask was a free sample that I got from the Sydney International Spa & Beauty Expo.

*Reference: Deliver system handbook for personal care and cosmetic products by Meyer R. Rosen (pg 104)