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Elastin: Putting a Spring in Your Smile
Some of the effects that anti-aging facials seek to correct are caused by the breakdown of elastin. Learn just what it does for your skin with Groupon’s close-up look.
Without elastin, our lungs would have a hard time expanding and our skin would crinkle like a paper bag the first time a doting aunt pinched our cheek. Elastin is a type of protein packed into all our stretchy tissues in coiled chains—each fiber unfurling to accommodate the movement of connective tissues, then quickly snapping back into place.
A weaker protein might easily break down under the stress of all this movement, so it’s no surprise that elastin is tough stuff. But because it’s so durable, our bodies stop producing elastin around age 12 or 13. At that point, elastin becomes vulnerable to degradation through sun exposure, poor diet, and other environmental factors, since it can’t be readily replenished.
There is no shortage of products on the market designed to reverse elastin damage; some even contain elastin itself. However, elastin molecules are large, and therefore unlikely to penetrate the skin and directly make tissues springier. But such products still may produce a plumper, smoother look by helping the surface of the skin retain moisture. You might also try a little internal medicine: in the San Francisco Chronicle, nutrition educator Paula Martina noted that eating foods rich in copper, such as dried figs or raisins, could help protect elastin reserves.