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We Lose Collagen As We Age. 10 Ways To Naturally Boost It.

Wanna proactively anti-age? Up your collagen, sis.

Beauty & Fashion

We've all heard that "Black don't crack". It ultimately comes from the belief that due to the extra doses of melanin that we've been blessed with, our skin doesn't age as quickly as, well, others do. Yet when it comes to taking preventative measures to keep our skin as ageless as possible, for as long as we can, it's also important to keep our collagen levels up. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our system and, thanks to the approximately 16 different kinds that we have around connective tissues like tendons, teeth and bones, when we've got a good amount of it in our body, it helps to keep our joints healthy, increase our muscle mass, give us longer hair and stronger nails, increase our protein and offer our skin extra hydration and elasticity.

So, as you can see, collagen is essential. Unfortunately, with just about every birthday, the fibers that make collagen up start to become thinner and looser. That's why it's imperative that we become as proactive as possible about boosting our collagen levels over time. While again, collagen is necessary for a myriad of health-related reasons, today, I'm mostly going to focus on how it can get your skin (and hair and nails) right, so that you can be as timeless as possible for as long as possible. Here are 10 tips to make that happen.

1. Become a Huge Fan of Vitamin C

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If you want to produce more collagen, it's absolutely essential that you get more Vitamin C into your system. The reason why is because it's the nutrient that actually helps your body to produce more collagen; it does this by boosting up the synthesis of collagen. You can get more collagen into your body by eating foods that are loaded with Vitamin C such as citrus fruit, chili peppers, kale, broccoli, kiwi, guava, tomatoes, potatoes, mangoes and cauliflower or by taking a Vitamin C supplement. Oh, and if you want to get some Vitamin C into your skin from "the outside in", a Vitamin C serum certainly can't hurt either. Oprah Daily published a list of some of the best current Vitamin C serums that are on the market. You can check it out here.

2. Eat Less Sugar and Caffeine

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If you've been trying to cut back on coffee and sugar, here's a major motivator to do just that. While sugar actually breaks down collagen, caffeine then turns around and reduces the amount of new collagen that forms within your body. That's why, as far as your sweet tooth goes, it really is better to consume more honey. It contains a type of alpha hydroxy acid known as gluconic acid that helps to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. And if you feel as if you need a bit of a caffeine fix, even after what I just shared, how about some green tea? The antioxidants in it help you to maintain your collagen levels while still giving you a bit of an energy boost too.

3. Eat More Hyaluronic Acid Foods

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I'm pretty sure you've seen a skincare commercial that talks about its products having hyaluronic acid in it before. Well, did you know that it's actually a substance that your body produces — one that helps to keep your skin, connective tissues and eyes moist? Not only that but it's the kind of acid that helps with cellular regeneration, wound repair and it supports collagen remaining healthy.

Believe it or not, there are foods that are full of hyaluronic acid. Some of them include bone broth, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens (because the magnesium in them help to produce hyaluronic acid), carrots, beets, Tempe, tofu, liver, cocoa and whole grains (the zinc in them help you to maintain your hyaluronic acid levels). If you eat more of those, there's no need to spend a mint on beauty products that contain it.

4. Cook with Fresh Herbs

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Do you enjoy cooking? If so, another way to add more collagen into your system is to cook with the kinds of herbs that stimulate production of it in your body. Some of those include cilantro, calendula, thyme, paprika and rosemary. Just make sure they're as fresh as possible; that way, you can get more collagen (or Vitamin C) from them.

5. Drink Some Aloe Vera Juice

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You don't have the time and I don't have the space to talk about all of the benefits of Aloe vera. As far as beauty is concerned, it contains bioactive compounds, antioxidants and antibacterial properties which help to strengthen your hair; soothe an itchy scalp; protect your hair and skin from UV damage; replenish dry skin; help to heal eczema and psoriasis and reduce the appearance of acne. Aloe vera is also dope because if you drink it in pure juice form, it's able to significantly increase the amount of collagen your skin produces as well as improve your skin's elasticity over the period of a couple of months. So, make sure that the next time you pick some up that you not only get some 100 percent gel to put on your body but that you also get some juice (or tablets) that you can take internally as well (most health and vitamin stores carry it, by the way).

6. Consider a Collagen Supplement

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Listen, when it comes to giving my body more of what it needs, I am all about adding a supplement into my system. As far as what a consistent dose of a collagen supplement can do, it's able to relieve joint discomfort; prevent bone loss; promote gut health; keep your hair and nails strong; boost your metabolism levels; increase muscle mass and so much more. As far as if there is a downside of taking this supplement, the main thing to keep in mind is you should read the labels before making a selection. The reason why is because some of them contain shellfish or egg protein which isn't good if you happen to be allergic to either one. Anyway, if you want some help in picking out the best collagen supplement for you and your lifestyle, Health has some of the best ones that were selected by health experts that you can check out here.

7. Or an Algae One

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Did you know that one of the main reasons why our skin ages before its time is due to oxidation? If you're familiar with that word yet you're not exactly sure what it means, it's when our skin is exposed to things like inclement weather and air pollution and, as a direct result, the cell growth of our skin is damaged. A great remedy for this is algae. The properties in it are amazing when it comes to blocking oxidation from happening; plus, it reduces the appearance of cellulite; deeply hydrates your skin; helps to tone your skin; speeds up the healing process of pimples and even diminishes the appearance of hyperpigmentation. While red, green, blue and brown algae are all beneficial, green or red is probably what you should look for in a supplement. Most health and vitamin stores carry this too.

8. Create DIY Ginseng and Tamanu Seed Oil Face Mask

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If you're someone who likes to treat yourself to a DIY facial (and if you aren't, you definitely should become that kind of person; check out "8 Solid Reasons Why You Should Give Yourself A Facial Once A Month"), consider making a face mask out of ginseng and tamanu seed oil every once in a while.

Ginseng is dope because it's packed with nutrients that help to remove dead skin cells and nourish your skin. Not only that but it's also an herb that balances oil production, reduces the appearance of dark circles underneath your eyes and decreases the appearance of acne (thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties). Also, because it contains phytonutrients, ginseng has the ability to protect your skin from free radicals, boost its metabolism and yes, stimulate the production of collagen.

As far as tamanu seed oil goes, because it's an emollient, it's loaded with fatty acids that will moisturize your skin. It's also loaded with vitamins C and E. And, thanks to other properties that it contains, tamanu seed oil can help to prevent damaging UV rays from breaking down the collagen that's in your skin as it boosts the production of collagen simultaneously.

To create a ginseng and tamanu seed oil face mask, just blend two teaspoons of ginseng powder with a teaspoon of magnesium powder, a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and 5-7 drops of tamanu seed oil. Let the mask sit on freshly washed damp skin for 10 minutes, then rinse with first warm and then cold water (cold water will close your pores). Finally, apply your favorite moisturizer. Your skin will almost immediately start to glow! (Etsy and online shops like iHerb are where you can easily find tamanu seed oil).

9. Apply a Carrot Seed Oil Blend onto Your Face (and Neck) At Night

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If there are two oils that I will do a free commercial for, right here and right now, it's sweet almond oil and rosemary oil. These days, I pretty much apply the first in the day, the second at night and lawd — the wonders it does for the texture and appearance of my skin! On the collagen-boosting tip, one that you might want to consider using is carrot seed oil. Aside from the fact that its antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties are great at treating/healing acne, because it is also rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, carrot seed oil can also repair damaged tissue and rebuild the collagen that is underneath your skin too.

10. Stress. Less.

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A hormone that we naturally have in our body is cortisol. Some health experts call it a "built-in alarm system" because it's what goes up and down based on your stress levels. Well, when we're too stressed out, something that automatically happens is your collagen gets damaged and that ultimately leads to fine lines, wrinkles and less firmness in your skin. That's why, I don't care if it's a person, place, thing or idea — be hypervigilant about not allowing anyone or anything to "get you there". It's not good for your overall health or well-being, including your skin. Amen? Amen.

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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