Is Elastin the Missing Link to Ageless Skin?

You know about collagen and you’ve read about hyaluronic acid, but are you up to speed on elastin? This naturally occurring protein is responsible for skin that snaps back like a rubber band—something we all want as we get older. There’s been little emphasis on elastin, but that’s about to change as new research suggests that it may be the missing link to ageless skin.

What is elastin?
A protein comprising peptides and amino acids, made by fibroblasts (the most common type of cell found in the connective tissue), elastin lives in the deepest layer of skin (the dermis) and gives skin its ability to stretch and recoil. “When you pull on your skin and it snaps back into place, that’s elastin allowing it to act in that way,” says Seattle dermatologist Peter Jenkin, MD. Over time, skin loses its ability to rebound its shape.

Elastin is sometimes present in skin-care products, but it’s important to note that it is majorly different from what’s in skin itself. Most experts feel that elastin, as an ingredient in products, does not penetrate skin past the protective layer to make a difference at a cellular level.

Addressing Lost Elastin
It’s known that with age you lose the ability to produce elastin (there is a genetic component to it as well), but could this be reversed? “If you look at old skin, it’s obviously wrinkled, saggy and loose—that’s a sign that it’s missing collagen,” says Boca Raton, FL, oculoplastic surgeon Steven Fagien, MD. “A loss of elastin in skin is like an old leather seat that has been sat in for years. At one time, the leather was tight, plump and cushiony, but over time, it buckles, thins and gets crinkly. The same phenomenon happens to skin. We lose the fabric in skin, plus what’s in between the layers of elastin.” Dr. Fagien adds that even if lasers are used to address aging skin and wrinkles, the quality of the skin and it’s pliability can only be improved slightly because collagen, not elastin, is being addressed.

The Connection to Collagen
The emphasis in skin care and anti-aging has focused more on collagen and less on elastin. “It’s always been collagen, collagen, collagen. While lasers, fillers and some other treatments do produce collagen, when you look at your skin after these treatments, it looks better, but there’s still something missing: that elastic quality. We know elastin is important, and that collagen alone does not necessarily make skin younger or more elastic,” says Dr. Fagien. “Sure, collagen is a critical component of healthy skin and healthy healing, but we’ve learned from years of injecting collagen that we weren’t replacing any that had been lost. Skin looked great, but didn’t reap any long-term benefits.” New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD, says, “Collagen and elastin go hand in hand in supporting the function of the skin. Elastin allows skin to be elastic, pliable and firm, and collagen makes it plump. If you don’t have one, or enough of one, the other can’t function and support skin properly.”

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  • Judy
    Posted on

    I have been using Prolastil which is the purest form of elastin replacement. Great results for me.

  • Angela
    Posted on

    Any tips on how to promote and ecnourage elastin?

  • Nina Shriver
    Posted on

    I've been using Sonia Remy's Collagen Elastin Revitalizing Serum for years and recommend it all the time. Seems like Sonia's been on to something for quite some time. In any case, thanks for the article, good read.

  • Mare
    Posted on

    I agree with Jeff, So how do we get more elastin? Is there a product that has both(collagen and esastin), that works? Thanks!

  • Jawdat Ali
    Posted on

    Thanks for this knowledgeable blog, I know a skin disease expert "Charming Skin Med Care". They have perfect solution of all skin related problems.

  • G
    Posted on

    I agree with Vanessa, the article is leaving quite a big hole on what can be done if anything to help regain & repair elastin fibers.

  • Kelly
    Posted on

    Profound by Syneron-Candela is the only device clinically proven to recreate elastin after a single treatment!

  • Carol
    Posted on

    Agree....this message says nothing at all about whether there are any solutions to loss of elastin. I think we are all quite aware that collagen and elastin are lost over the years - that is written everywhere. But yes, there is a crucial part of this article missing. Are there any solutions for loss of elastin??

  • jeff
    Posted on

    so how do we get more elastin?

  • Barbara Wicklund
    Posted on

    So this is saying there's nothing we can do about it?

  • Vanessa
    Posted on

    I was waiting for the article to state what can be done about lost elastin. Given the article stated nothing in regards to replacing elastin or stimulating growth or repair, Am I to assume nothing can be done? With all due respect, this article is missing a major piece of information!

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