Your Skin and Elastin: Everything You Need to Know About This Powerful Protein

  • Elastin, a protein found in skin, is responsible for tightness and elasticity.
  • Stress, smoking, pollution, and the natural aging process can all lead to declining elastin levels.
  • Keep reading to discover how to protect the elastin in your skin, according to a dermatologist.

The ability to bounce back is an important attribute for just about anyone or anything — including your skin. In the beauty realm, bounceback, or elasticity, happens to be a fundamental feature for skin. When your skin has ample elasticity from the aptly named protein elastin, it’s plump and healthy-looking. When it starts to lose elastin, sagging and wrinkles are on the horizon — and you might turn to antiaging products in hopes of gaining back that youthful look.

“Elastin is a protein in our skin that allows it to stretch and then recoil back,” says board-certified dermatologist Arash Akhavan, MD. “It gives our skin its stretchy characteristics, and it actually plays the same role in other organs in the body as well.” Ahead, learn more about elastin and its starring role in skin health.

What Is the Difference Between Elastin and Collagen?

Both collagen and elastin are proteins found in skin that boost its vitality, and sadly, we gradually lose some of both as we age. Elastin is responsible for skin’s tightness and ability to snap back and is way more flexible than collagen. “Collagen on the other hand provides strength, structure, and support to the skin,” Dr. Akhavan says.

How Do You Know If You Have a Healthy Amount of Elastin?

“I check my patients’ elastin health by pulling on their undereye skin to see how fast it bounces back into place,” Dr. Akhavan says. “Skin with healthy elastin bounces back down quickly, in less than a second. Skin deficient in elastin will tent for a few seconds before settling back down.”

Can Using Products With Elastin Increase the Amount of Elastin in Skin?

Unfortunately, most experts say no. “There is little to zero evidence that we can increase elastic tissue in the skin with elastin-containing products,” says Dr. Akhavan. There are some products with peptides that may minimally increase elastin production, he says. “Certain cosmeceutical products have peptides that purport to increase elastin production, but much more research is needed to validate their claims,” Dr. Akhavan explains. “However, there is solid evidence that retinol, which has long been known to increase collagen production, also increases dermal elastin.”

You can also be proactive about safeguarding the elastin you have. Stress, hormones, smoking, and pollution can all contribute to elastin degradation. Protect skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily. An antioxidant-rich serum with vitamin C can help further ward off skin-damaging free radicals. And an antioxidant-laden diet filled with things like berries, tomatoes, broccoli, and nuts can also be beneficial.

Are There In-Office Treatments to Promote Elastin Production?

Dr. Akhavan is a fan of procedures like fractional laser resurfacing, radio-frequency treatments, and microneedling. “They produce microinjuries in the skin that activate skin’s natural wound healing pathway, which leads to the production of elastin,” he says.

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