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Alena Couzet

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In recent years, we’ve seen a surge in  the marketing of collagen drinks which promise shortcuts to radiant, youthful skin. The idea that a drink can dramatically improve your skin is a little far fetched, but tempting too. Can it be really that simple? Do they really work? Or will you just be wasting your money on yet another #influencer-backed fad?

First of all, what is collagen and why is it important?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our skin and bodies,” says  Alyssa R. Golas, MD, plastic surgeon at NYU Langone Health. “It is formed by the linking and winding together of amino acids to form collagen fibers. There are many different types of collagen, and they are found in varying ratios in skin, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, bone, and scar tissue, to name a few.”

Collagen forms 75-80% of the skin, and together with elastin, gives structure and strength to our skin.

Collagen synthesis, or the formation of new collagen, is at its peak during childhood and in our teens. However, according to Jessica Weiser, a board certified dermatologist at New York Dermatology Group, the levels then start to plateau in our 20s and 30s, and finally decline as we age. As a result, the skin loses its structural integrity. It starts to display the visible signs of ageing: sagging, thinning, fine lines and wrinkles.

Factors promoting collagen breakdown

Several external factors can further accelerate collagen loss:

  • Lifestyle and environmental stressors such as pollution and free radicals can diminish collagen production
  • High sugar consumption – sugar triggers insulin production, which disrupts the proper synthesis of proteins.
  • Sun – UVA rays penetrate the skin where they damage the collagen fibers. This damage then triggers the production of enzymes called metalloproteinases, which further degrade collagen levels.
  • Smoking – Tobacco smoke contains chemicals that can damage collagen and elastin. Nicotine also restricts blood circulation, causing less oxygen and nutrients to each the skin.

Why are collagen drinks so popular?

Most dermatologists agree that creams and lotions containing collagen don’t work. This is because collagen molecules are too big to be absorbed by the skin into your bloodstream.

Collagen drinks, however, contain hydrolysed collagen, which are collagen molecules that have been broken into smaller pieces, called peptides. These are said to be more easily absorbed in the gut. The idea is then that these collagen fragments not only provide the body with amino acids (building blocks of collagen), it also tricks the body’s collagen factory into becoming more active and producing more collagen.

With theory that you can boost your collagen production from the inside, and reviews claiming positive results, it’s not surprising that almost every Tsui Ling, Devi and Hasnah is jumping on the collagen drink bandwagon.

But is it too good to be true?

The answer is, probably yes.

To date, there really isn’t enough compelling data to prove that ingesting collagen has any effect on your skin. The studies claiming otherwise have mostly been commissioned by the collagen drink producers themselves. And clinical trials to prove that collagen supplements improve the skin have been  inconsistent in their results or methodologies.

Some dermatologists are also not convinced of the “science” behind collagen drinks. According to Duane Mellor, assistant professor in dietetics at the University of Nottingham,  there is no guarantee the body will specifically direct the collagen to the skin.

“What’s going to stop even fragments of collagen being digested? They are going to be subjected to the acid in the stomach and digestive enzymes,” says Mellor. He also adds that there is no evidence to suggest that the use of collagen in inject-able skin fillers actually stimulate collagen synthesis.

What you can do instead for youthful, glowing skin

1. Retinoids, the general term for derivatives of Vitamin A, are pretty widely acknowledged by dermatologists to stimulate collagen production. According to  Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, retinol is the single best-studied ingredient in fighting skin aging. You can either get it as a dermatologist-prescribed topical cream or in over-the-counter anti-ageing creams like Philosophy Ultimate Miracle Worker Multi-Rejuvenating Retinol + Superfood Oil.

2. Increasing your antioxidant intake can help to prevent collagen breakdown and UV damage, encourage collagen synthesis, and promote cellular repair and healing. Anti-oxidant rich food include kale, cruciferous vegetables, acai, goji berries and pomegranate.

3. Vitamin C, either consumed as food or applied topically, can help promote collagen synthesis. Try using a serum, like Edible Beauty No.3 Exotic Goddess Ageless Serum, which uses kakadu plum as a key ingredient. Kakadu plum has the highest recorded levels of Vitamin C of any fruit in the world.

4. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. High moisture content in the skin can help give it a supple, plump appearance.

5. Protect your skin from the sun to prevent further breakdown of collagen. Make sure to wear sunscreen everyday or applying makeup with broad spectrum SPF protection like Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer.

6. Healing your gut health helps you to enhance your body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients. Eating bio-fermented wholefoods rich in probiotics and prebiotics such as kefir, kombucha and kimchi, can help to maintain a healthy gut flora.

Messy hair, don’t care? For most mums, some mornings can be a crazy, hectic blurr, and we feel like we just can’t. If you’re so over the perpetual mum-bun or top-knot, here’s a list of low-maintenance haircuts (read: wash-and-go) that will make you look (and feel) on top of this mum game. Get that haircut now, mama!

The ‘LOB’, aka Long Bob

Source: tomandlorenzo.com

The long bob – a cut that hits just above the shoulders – is the perfect haircut if you’re looking for the versatility of mid-length hair with the low maintenance factor of short hair. Ask your stylist to point cut the ends to add texture, so it’s not one harsh, straight line.

Daily styling:  Work some texturising spray like Herbivore Botanicals Sea Mist – Coconut + Sea Salt Beach Wave Salt Spray then let it air dry. Or blow dry on low heat with your fingers for a sexy, tousled look.

Dress it up:  Use a straightening iron for a classic, smooth style. Alternatively, you can back-brush the hairline and crown to create volume, then slick back with  Sachajuan Styling Cream and set with hairspray.


Long Layers

Zoe Saldana
Source: Jo Rhys

Long layers that start around chin length, like Zoe Saldana’s here, make styling a cinch. If cut precisely, they will fall right into place without even picking up the blow dryer.

Daily styling:  This cut is the epitome of a wash-and-go style. Simply work in a texturising product to define the layers then finish with a touch of serum like Original & Mineral’s Frizzy Logic Shine Serum to tame frizz.

Dress it up:  Opt for a flip blow-out or add voluminous curls with a curling iron.

The Modern Pageboy

Source: The Queen of Style

Michelle Williams reinvents the classic style with side bangs and a length that hits just above the chin. Ask your stylist to point-cut the ends (snipping into ends with scissors aimed up at the ceiling), which will prevent blunt, harsh lines.

Daily styling:  A touch of serum, like SachaJuan’s Shine Serum, is all you need to give you that casual-chic look.

Dress it up:  Apply a volumising product like Original & Mineral’s Surf Bomb Sea Salt Spray and blow dry with a round brush to add natural volume. Once dry, create a deep side part and tuck behind the ears. Finish with a glossing serum all over.


Angled Bob

Source: bhg.com

Giuliana Rancic’s bob is that perfect sleek-and-chic haircut that’s guaranteed to get you “Wow, you’re a mum?“-type comments. This chin-length cut is insanely easy to style and gets its modern vibe from the slightly longer length at the front.

Daily styling:  Spritz some Ouai Volume Spray throughout the hair followed by a smoothing serum like Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil to tame the ends, and let it dry naturally.

Dress it up:  Get Giuliana’s sleek ‘do here by blow drying it straight using a paddle brush then finish with a straightening iron.

The Soft Pixie

Anne Hathaway
Source: Jet Rhys

Long bangs gives this classic chop a softer, more feminine look. This cut is perfect for making your cheekbones and deep-set eyes pop.

Daily styling:  Work a little VERB Sea Texture Cream into the fringe and side sweep it for a soft yet sophisticated look.

Dress it up:  Leave it to dry (or blow dry it) until it’s 75% dry. After that rub a some gel between your palms then work it into your hair. Start at the roots and shape it upwards into spikes. Now dry it with a hairdryer, directing the hot air at your roots while lifting the spikes as you go. Finish with a little wax, like Rahua’s Cream Wax, for hold.

Happy new haircut, mums! Remember to make some time for yourself today.

 


Some of these links earn us a commission. These products were chosen independently by our editorial team. 

Many mothers today can agree that finding a mumma tribe to belong to is crucial to surviving the chaos of motherhood with your sanity intact. A landmark study recently showed that  female friendships are fundamental in helping women manage their stress. Having a “village to raise your child” also means having that extra helping hand and guidance for times when Google is more overwhelming than enlightening. But how do you go about finding your tribe when you’ve left that village behind?

Three years ago I was the new girl in town, with toddler in tow and no close friends or family nearby. Whilst being a stay-at-home-mum meant I was never alone – not even to go to the bathroom – sometimes I felt the weight of loneliness rest so heavily on my shoulders.

Even if you haven’t recently moved to a new town, having a new baby would spark the need for mum friends. Going out with a new bub feels much easier when your outing partner is also busy trying to settle a cranky or hungry baby. Maybe just like you, she hasn’t washed her hair in a while!

Why is it so hard to make & keep new friends?

Most new mums will tell you, making friends as an adult is hard. What used to be second nature as kids is now one of the hardest things to do as adults. For an introvert like myself, having to put myself out there and trying to get past the initial awkwardness feels like a lot of hard work. As daunting as it was, I thought Hey, how hard could it be to find like-minded women in the same boat as I was?  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

So, armed with an eager readiness to make mummy-connections, I brushed up on my playground pick-up lines. I braved myself to smile and say the first ‘hello’. I made polite small talk and offered to exchange contact details to arrange play dates.
Sadly, though unsurprisingly, not all of the acquaintances made flourished into friendships for one reason or another. Why?

• The relationship couldn’t go deeper than small talk.
• We end up finding out we didn’t have much in common.
• We couldn’t see eye-to-eye on some fundamental issues like vaccinations,  Trump’s presidency, or which contestant The Bachelor really should have chosen.
• One of us flaked out, couldn’t make schedules work or just got too busy.
• Or, some  – shock horror – just didn’t want their kid around mine. (Okay, admittedly, there have been a couple of kids I didn’t want near my kid either, so no judgement there!)

After a few hits and misses, and what seemed like a hundred litres of coffee scoffed down at a million playgrounds, I found my tribe. They were women who not only made me laugh. They listened to and commiserated with me over relationship and motherhood dramas. Most of all, they stepped up and offered help at times of crises and always made time to meet.

How to find your true mum friends

1. Put yourself out there

Much like the world of dating, you can’t find mum friends if they don’t know you’re interested. So don’t be embarrassed to initiate conversation or to offer contact details with a view of arranging play dates. Don’t be overly concerned about being the Over Eager Beaver – chances are, if you don’t eventually hit it off, you’ll never see these people again. You stand to gain more than you will lose.

2. Brush up on your pickup lines

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or witty. It’s highly likely that the other mum is also looking to make friends but is just too shy to make the first move. Keep it simple. A positive observation followed by a question expressing your interest in her usually works well. For example, “I love the play equipment in this playground. Do you and your daughter come here often?”.

3. Be a “Yes (Wo)man”

So finally you meet someone who asked for your number to meet for a play date or coffee.  You exchange numbers and set the date. As the day draws near you suddenly find yourself thinking up a million reasons why you shouldn’t go. Connecting with new people is hard, but you have to just fight through the  nerves, and just give it a go. Who knows, this person could just be the most amazing friend. And if you don’t give it a fair try, you’ll never get to find that out.

4. Meet and Repeat

Keep in mind that the first play date or coffee session may not ignite instant sparks. Sometimes it’s hard to be yourself around new people, because both parties may be anxious. Conversations may be dry – awkward even – and it can seem like you have very little in common. Even if you didn’t hit it off like a house on fire, make another attempt to meet again. Creating more shared experiences with this person will help build and enrich your relationship – the more shared experiences you have together, the more things you can draw on to connect with each other.

5. Slowly does it

As you approach or enter your 30s, more likely than not, you’ve been friends with your besties for so long that you can barely remember a time when they couldn’t finish your sentences. But remember, these friendships didn’t get to that level overnight. When it comes to making mum friends, be prepared to also invest time and energy to help it blossom. Good friendships can’t be rushed.

6. You don’t need a kid to make friends

Don’t dismiss an offer of friendship simply because the she doesn’t have children. Remember that a friendship is not sustainable if the only thing you have in common is your children. If your child-free friend is happy to hang out with you and your kid, then she’s definitely a keeper. The perks of having more child-free friends is that when you do get a “passport” for a kid-free outing, these friends’ availability is not restricted by their child’s schedule, making it easier to organise meet-ups. Talking about  topics that don’t involve children can also help you find yourself again if you feel like you’ve lost your sense of who you were before motherhood took over your life.

Where to look to find your mum tribe

1. Join a playgroup

This is one of the easiest ways because groups are usually based on the children’s age group and because bub would be happily engaged (for the most part), leaving the mums with some freedom to chat and get to know other mums with minimal interruption.

2. The playground

The playground is a mother’s equivalent of a ‘single’s club’ – it’s the place a mum who hasn’t yet found a friend for regular playdates go to keep her little one happily occupied. Try somewhere local to your area as there’s a high likelihood a mum you meet would be living nearby too. This makes it easier to set future play dates at a location convenient to you both.

3. Connect online

There are many options for finding new friends via an online platform or apps. You can do a search of Groups on Facebook based on your interests or location. You can also seek to connect with people of similar interests via Meetup, or look up lady friends in your local area through Hey! VINA and Mush.

4. Know thy neighbour

Remember when we were growing up and our first friends were our neighbours, and their parents were ‘Aunty’ and ‘Uncle’ to us, because they were also friends with our parents? And yet today, how many of us can say confidently our neighbours would be the first to respond in an emergency?

About two years ago, a new neighbour moved in next door, and she had two children around my son’s age. So I braved myself to do the clichéd ‘neighbourly welcome’ – I knocked on the door and dropped off a plate of homemade cookies. It took us about one year of shy, slightly awkward play dates – for the mums. The kids were running amok happily from the get-go – but now, she’s one of my best friends who has offered me help and support countless times and her children are two of my son’s besties.
So take a page out of our parents’ book and make an effort to know your neighbours.

5. Do what you love

Like yoga? Join a yoga class where kids are welcome. Are you artistically inclined? Try signing up for a Sip & Paint session where you can relax, paint and chat with a glass of wine in your hand.
Meeting people who share the same interests as you is more likely to lead to friendships that can grow and strengthen with time.