Treating something holistically isn’t just for feel good vibes: there’s an art and science to it. The gist is that you can’t properly treat a concern by addressing one singular pathway if other parts of the system aren’t functioning properly.
“[You can use topicals and treatments] to stimulate collagen production in the skin, but if you’re inflamed, then you’re not going to be able to regenerate that collagen,” says Hanway. “Or if you have too much sugar in the diet, any collagen that’s getting regenerated is just going to get broken down again. Or if the gut health is impaired, then you’re not going to have those raw materials. Finally, if you’re not putting in those raw materials—like amino acids—then you have nothing to build with.”
I found this insight to be particularly helpful in my own approach to skin care. Products can transcend their base efficacy when paired with a well-rounded approach. A vitamin C serum (beloved by dermatologists as vitamin C is a vital part of the collagen synthesis process) won’t work as effectively when skin is in an inflamed state. You can’t just apply a serum to aggravated skin and hope for the best—you need to find the root cause of the inflammation, which can be from stress, too strong of beauty products, environmental aggressors, or diet.
Similarly, your body can only produce what it has building blocks for. Amino acids, for example, are the building blocks of collagen and elastin. Without a balanced diet that prioritizes protein intake, your skin and hair may not have all the materials it needs to keep the skin structure strong. You can support your body’s natural collagen production through your diet, as well as supplements.