Collagen refers to a group of proteins present in mammal skin tissue that is most active and bountiful in youth. These proteins are what's responsible for the elasticity, tautness and firmness of your skin. As the proteins deplete, your skin becomes more prone to wrinkles, sagging and deep lines. If you're hoping to delay the depletion of collagen in your skin you may want to develop a deeper understanding of the different factors that could deplete the levels of this protein.
The one factor that depletes collagen that you won't be able to have much control over is aging. As you grow older and your skin has been more exposed to gravity over time, the natural production of these proteins in your skin will begin to decline. Wrinkles, fine lines and deep lines are the inevitable result of lowered production. The only antidote to lowered collagen as a result of aging is through cosmetic treatment, but even cosmetic treatment can't stop the process entirely.
2. Sun Exposure
One factor that you can control is sun exposure. Any form of tanning--especially in UV ray tanning booths, but even an occasional tan in the sunlight--damages your skin. Besides sun spots and discoloration, this damage will also lead to decreased collagen production, which will in turn make your skin wrinkle and become non-elastic prematurely. To combat this, always wear sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher during the day, even when the temperature is cold and/or the sky is overcast. Reapply the sunscreen after every hour of sun exposure.
3. Tobacco Smoke
Tobacco smoke is another factor that can deplete the levels of collagen in your skin. Smoking tobacco firsthand provides the worst level of damage to your skin, but exposure to secondhand smoke can also damage your skin, even when the exposure is infrequent.
Pollution is another factor that can deplete the levels of collagen in your skin. If you live in an area with greater pollution levels, your skin may be more likely to lose elasticity and develop wrinkles prematurely, as opposed to the skin of people who live in less polluted areas. Short of moving (which may or may not be a viable option for you) the most you can do to combat the negative effects of pollution on your skin (beside cosmetic treatment) is getting plenty of exercise and eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, particularly spinach, goji berries, prunes, olives, sweet potatoes, carrots and red peppers.
Many illnesses can cause depletion of proteins in your skin as a side effect. You should see a doctor if you suspect any illness and take care to eat a diet that is rich in vitamin C to decrease your chance of catching communicable diseases and boost your immune system's ability to fight illnesses.