I appeared on “The Rachael Ray Show” today to talk about the amazing properties of the connective tissue system. Usually when I’m asked to speak on this vital stability system it’s to discuss how it relates to pain, posture, and your overall efficiency. But Rachael wanted to know how this tissue (and tapping into it) can help keep you looking young.
What’s hard to do in a three-minute segment is really discuss the science or what science proposes. They really just have time to get to the doing of the technique. What I know is that people care less about the problem and just want the solution. Fair enough. But I love sharing the why of the problem because it makes you learn more about how to live a better life.
The layer of connective tissue right under the skin is called the superficial fascia. This particular layer is the flexible scaffolding that supports your skin. This fascia is the supportive infrastructure that gives your skin its tone, lift, and integrity.
The primary cells within this tissue are called fibroblasts and (when they are active) they are the cells that produce the majority of the collagen and elastin molecules we rely on to keep everything in our body stable and supported—including our skin. The problem is: As we age these cells stop proliferating, meaning there are more cells dying than there are new ones being produced. Fewer cells means less collagen production, which translates into sagging skin, compressed joints, and basically less support for the visible parts of our body.
What Is Collagen and Why Is It So Important?
Collagen research has been going on for nearly 20 years. Collagen is a protein that comprises over 25 percent of our total body protein and the dominant molecule in connective tissue. Over the past 15 years of studying collagen, we now know that there are at least 15 different types of collagen, each with different roles, properties, and lifespan.
What recent science has proposed is that the biologically active types of collagen that are in the superficial fascia (that’s the layer just under and attached to the skin’s underside) are the ones with the anti-aging properties.
The problem with topical creams is that they don’t absorb or incorporate into the tissue under the skin where we have the breakdown.
Skin’s protective lipid design won’t allow collagen in creams to penetrate to the superficial fascia where the decrease of collagen really is. Collagen is what’s known as a polar molecule, which won’t bind to the fat cells the skin is designed with.
Think of it like two negatively charged magnets. They always repel each other. So the creams might help the skin’s outermost layer and the fine-line issue but it won’t make a dent in collagen stimulation in any way. So save your money and don’t buy into the $400 skin creams that claim to boost collagen production.
Collagen creates a triple helix structure that holds everything from bones, muscles, and joints stable and it helps the skin maintain its structure. Although science has been able to develop synthetic collagen, it doesn’t seem to bind to the existing collagen thus it doesn’t really make any effect to reinforce the structures under the skin.
In your mid 20s you are already decreasing collagen at a rate of 1.5 percent each year. So by the time you are 40 you’ve lost about 30 percent of your daily collagen production.
The Bottom Line: Problem
Daily living, the repetitive movements that we do breakdown, challenge, and stress this collagen matrix of the superficial fascial layer under your skin. The tissue slowly loses its fluid and plumpness, slowing down cell production. Again, less cells, less activity of cells = less collagen production.
Doing repetitive facial expressions is what causes the lines we ultimately see. If you sit with a forward head carriage that too will cause increased constant tension in the tissue that attaches the back of your head to your sternum causing a turkey neck to arise. Going totally without facial expression is impossible (unless you are going to Botox every square inch of your face and look like plastic).
What’s important to recognize is that as we age, this process happening to everyone, everyday. Sorry to burst the bubble of hope that somehow your genes will stop you from having wrinkles and sagging skin.
The Good News: There is a Solution!
Connective tissue in the superficial layers is actually quite responsive. The very things that dehydrate the tissue—the catalyst for accelerated cell death and the production of collagen (tension, pull, and compression)—can stimulate the cells, thus keeping them active… if you know how to do it. And you can do this to yourself.
Researchers are now searching to prove that stimulating the fibroblasts is the way to biologically activate the production of new collagen cells. But let’s not wait to get them to prove it scientifically, let’s just do it to ourselves. If we wait for science to prove it, it’s because we are waiting for an injection or pill that will create the process but getting more saggy and wrinkly while we wait. But you can stimulate fibroblasts and it’s actually easy. It’s one thing MELT is focused on doing.
The secret to stimulating the superficial layers of your connective tissue is to not press hard. The lighter the touch, the more you stimulate the cells closest to the skin. The best way to restore this movement is what I call the Indirect Before Direct approach. Doing this takes more than 50 seconds but the benefits are far more reaching, longer lasting, and just as easy to do. If you have 5 minutes a day to help yourself look good AND feel fantastic, watch this clip I did for Rachael so she and her audience members could help themselves reduce the wrinkles and give themselves a facelift daily.
The MELT Mini Hand Treatment
- Grip Assess
- Forearm Rinse
- Grip Reassess
The MELT Neck Release Sequence
- Neck Turn Assess
- Base of Skull Shear
- Jaw Shear
- Temple Shear
- Neck Turn Reassess
Some other obvious tips for keeping your skin looking great at any age:
- Drink water CONSISTENTLY. It’s not volume of water. It’s the consistency that really helps our cells stay hydrated and active.
- Eat lots of veggies and foods with antioxidants.
- Exfoliate 3x a week. I love the Clarisonic Brush. Vibrational tools such as this also activate the superficial cells of our connective tissue and bring blood flow to the local regions of your face!
- Sleep a minimum of 7 hours in a pitch-black room. The most restful your sleep, the less bags and dark circles you will have under your eyes
- Don’t fluctuate your weight. When you get older don’t go losing 50 pounds fast as you will cause issues in the fat to collagen ratio in your superficial layers of tissue causing cellulite lumps to form and sagging skin.
- WEAR SUNSCREEN when you are outside in sunny weather! Don’t bake your skin! Cover your face when in direct sun light as sun is the most damaging to our actual skin layer and dehydrates the superficial layers of our connective tissue system.
- Sweat! If you sweat and exercise you will always have healthier looking skin.
There are hundreds of trained instructors across the country. Find an Anti-Aging Workshop in your area: MELT Finder