What was the first image that came to mind when you read the words in the title?
If you are anything like me, the word “plump” used in association with “skin” usually conjures up an image of a six-month-old’s cheeks. Bouncy, velvety, glowing, plump.
Many different factors contribute to a loss of that vitality. Dehydration, exhaustion, and poor diet can all contribute to dull, tired-looking skin no matter what our age. In addition, the breakdown of the supportive structures within our dermis is an intrinsic factor to aging that to mitigate requires a different approach.
While no one reading these words will ever have baby skin grace our cheeks again, we can still enjoy the effects of plumper, more hydrated, and structurally resilient skin, whether we are 23 or 83. Here are five different ways you can naturally achieve plumper, more vibrant skin:
The general level of hydration in your body is reflected in your skin. Your esthetician can tell just by looking at your face under her light if you’ve had enough water in the last 24 hours! The first step towards hydrated, plump skin is consuming 6-8 glasses of pure water each day.
Your skin can be given a “drink” of water topically as well! Humectants are ingredients that draw and lock moisture into the epidermal and dermal tissues, creating a plump appearance. Examples of wonderful natural humectants include sorbitol, glycerin, honey, and aloe vera.
One of the most important humectants in our bodies is hyaluronic acid, a sugar-based molecule that holds up to a thousand times its weight in water. It occurs in abundance in the extracellular matrix of our skin, and the amount we produce declines as we age (1). Look for hyaluronic acid or sodium hyaluronate on the ingredients list for amazing skin-plumping capabilities. Helena Lane’s Nourishing Rose and Frankincense Hyaluronic Serum is one of Team Kolya’s favourites.
IMPORTANT! Humectants like hyaluronic acid draw moisture from the skin’s external environment and lock it into the dermal and epidermal tissues. If the external environment is dry, humectants have no external moisture source to draw from, and may end up drawing water from deeper in the body’s tissues.
In dry seasons/climates, it is essential to generously apply a hydration mist (like Tata Harper’s Hydrating Floral Essence) right before your humectant-rich product, to ensure the availability of a source of moisture.
TIP: For long-term hydration and optimal plumpness, follow your water-based humectant with oil or lipid-based emollients and occlusives. These creams and oils soften the skin’s surface and create a physical barrier to prevent trans-epidermal water loss.
Defend & Repair Your Collagen
The word collagen actually refers to 16 different types of fibrous proteins found in our bodies, although 80-90% is either type I, II, or III (2). Collagen is the most abundant protein in the animal kingdom, helping to form our bones and muscles, our blood vessels and GI tract, our fascia, and, of course, our skin!
Collagen, along with another protein called elastin, gives our skin its structure and firmness. The amount of collagen our cells produce decreases by about 1% every year after the age of 20 (3). This, combined with the free radical damage it continuously sustains, is the reason our skin becomes slack, losing its pleasing firmness and elasticity slowly over time.
Protecting the collagen we have from free radical damage, as well as providing the nutritional building blocks our bodies require to produce collagen, can be powerful mitigators against the time-related decline of collagen in your skin.
To protect the collagen you have, try Antipodes’ Hosanna H2O Intensive Skin Plumping Serum. It provides antioxidant protection from a patented Vinanza® grape compound, which contains double the levels of polyphenolic antioxidants of grapes grown anywhere else in the world. This product will also act as a humectant, so apply after a hydration mist and before a lipid-based cream or oil.
You can boost your own production of collagen by providing your body with the raw materials it needs to make it, in similar ratios. Taking supplemental collagen provides the raw materials your body needs— namely higher concentrations of the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline— to produce this protein, resulting in an increase in skin thickness and resiliency, as well as a decrease in wrinkle-depth after 3 months of supplementation (4). Make sure you always take your collagen supplement with Vitamin C, and eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables; it is essential for the synthesis of collagen (5), as well as being an important protector of your collagen cells internally (6,7).
Is “lipid” a sexier word than “fat”? Dietary fat has been vilified in the zeitgeist for decades, and I’d like to change people’s opinions about this much-maligned yet critical-for-life molecule.
Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are called “essential” because our bodies cannot make them. They are critical components of all cell membranes, hormones, your retina, most of your nervous system, and brain. On a dermal level, they maintain our skin’s barrier function, play a critical role in wound healing and modulating the inflammatory response (8). They are also components of sebum, the moisturizing substance our oil glands secrete.
Taking an DHA/EPA supplement, which is a long chain omega-3 scarce in typical North American diets, heals and strengthens hyper-reactive, sensitized skin, and ensures all skin types have the internal moisturizing components they need to maintain a beautiful glow and plump texture. Sea Buckthorn oil is another excellent lipid supplement for skin specifically, as it contains omega-7 fatty acids, shown to improve inflammatory conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis (9). Sea Buckthorn oil can be applied topically to moisturize and protect, and taken internally for optimal healing.
The Plumping Power of Gua Sha
An ancient beauty ritual that is suddenly very new again, you have no doubt heard of this Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice. But is there any benefit to dragging a pretty stone tool across your face, other than the relaxing sensation it produces? Turns out, the answer is yes!
Along with lymphatic drainage and breaking up of fascial adhesions, the proper application of gua sha’s unidirectional pressure stimulates little cells in your dermis called fibroblasts. When stimulated, these fibroblasts produce and place collagen fibres parallel to the applied load.
Stated another way, careful pressure applied with the muscle grain will tell a special cell in your skin to make more collagen and to lay it down in a nice, organized way.
The long-term result is thicker, more resilient skin, plumped and radiant from its increased collagen production.
First, grab a high-quality gua sha tool of your choice - we love this one from Communion Botanicals. Start with clean skin, and apply your favorite oil all over your face and neck to provide lubrication. I like to use Tata Harper’s Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil because retinols (Vitamin A compounds) increase skin cell turnover rates and stimulate collagen production. Reapply if your gua sha tool stops gliding effortlessly across your skin during the treatment.
Hold your gua sha tool at a 45⁰ angle. Use gentle pressure: about the amount you might use to spread icing on a cake (around the eye area, use even less than that.) On the lower half of the face, you may wish to use slightly more pressure, particularly along the jaw with its substantial musculature.
While your skin may become rosy from the enhanced circulation you are creating during your treatment, at no time should you raise “sha” (therapeutic petechiae) on your skin, nor should the pressure with which you are scraping cause bruising. “Slow”, “repetitive”, and “gentle” are three adjectives you should always keep in mind when practicing facial gua sha.
After opening the lymph channels by scraping down the back and sides of your neck, work from the top of your face to the bottom, always moving from the center to the outside.
Begin with one side of the forehead; scraping from the center to the hairline horizontally, repeating each sweeping movement slowly, 4-6 times. Repeat on the other side of your forehead.
Beginning in the centre of your face at the eyebrows, stroke directly up to your hairline. Repeat 4-6 times.
Move on to your eyes. Remember to decrease the pressure on this delicate area. Gently scrape just above the lid, moving from the side of the nose to the temple, 4-6 times. Then repeat the movement just below the eye, starting at the edge of the nose and finishing at the temple. Repeat 4-6 times with even, extra-gentle pressure, and then repeat everything on the other eye.
Scrape down the front of your nose 4-6 times, then repeat along on each side.
Begin working the cheeks at the angle of the naso-labial fold, the expression lines lying nearly parallel to the mouth. Hold the length of your tool along that fold, the top of it should hit just below the hollow area under your eye. Gently and evenly scrape up the cheekbone, finishing at the hairline. Repeat 4-6 times.
Move lower on the cheek, so the bottom end of your tool touches the edge of your jawbone. Beginning at the corner of your mouth, scrape up the jawline towards the ear. If you like, you may use slightly firmer pressure safely on this area of your face. Repeat 4-6 times.
Now beginning slightly above the temple, gently scrape down the side of your face. Once you hit the bottom of your jaw, continue down the side of your neck, ending at the small notch just above your collarbone. Repeat several times; this helps drain lymphatic fluid from your head, reducing puffiness and enhancing immunity.
Repeat the process on your other cheek, including the lymphatic drainage strokes at the end.
This is your basic gua sha ritual for everyday. It is fun when you are first beginning your gua sha practice to complete all the strokes on one side of your face only, so you can really see the difference it makes!
Short term results like decreased puffiness and a refreshed, lifted appearance can be enjoyed after just one session, but commitment to a daily gua sha practice results in an increase in collagen production and plumper, younger-looking skin after several months.
In the End, There is Nothing Like a Really Good Facial
For the ultimate in skin-plumping pampering, treat yourself to a Kolya Signature Facial, curated just for you and your skin’s needs.
Chromatherapy, heated beds, and plush linens along with the professional yet nurturing energy of our therapists, all combine with our natural, decadent products for an unforgettable experience.
Our estheticians have extensive knowledge of natural skincare ingredients and years of experience with every age, gender, colour and type of skin. After cleansing, exfoliation, masking, and infusions with active botanicals, your stress will be melted away with a delicious facial massage. Facial massage not only feels incredible, it breaks up fascial adhesions, allowing muscles to glide over each other more easily, and stimulates blood flow in the dermal and epidermal tissues for enhanced oxygenation and absorption of nutrients. The end effect is a plumper, more radiant complexion.
Treat your skin to a spring stay-cation - let us customize an exquisite total-rejuvenation treatment that will leave your spirits refreshed and your skin feeling like a baby’s for days.
We are so happy to announce that our spa has finally reopened! We have missed all of our clients so much, and are looking forward to seeing your beautiful faces once again.
For a limited time, all facial clients will receive a luxurious “welcome back” gift to plump and protect the delicate skin around the eyes, valued at $65 (while quantities last).
Please visit our website, www.kolyanaturals.com, or call 780-433-1090 to book your appointment today!
Please note, COVID-19 safety protocols are strictly enforced; visit our website for details.
- Karen K-D, Holistic Esthetician
- Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1; 4(3): 253–258.
- Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition New York: W. H. Freeman; 2000.
- Ahmed T, Nash A, Clark K, et.al. Combining nano-physical and computational investigations to understand the nature of “aging” in dermal collagen. Int J Nanomedicine. 2017; 12: 3303–3314.
- Schwartz S, Hammon KA, Gafner A, Dahl A, Guttman N, Fong M, Schauss A. Novel Hydrolyzed Chicken Sternal Cartilage Extract Improves Facial Epidermis and Connective Tissue in Healthy Adult Females: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Altern Ther Health Med. 2019 Sep;25(5):12-29.
- Shaw G, Lee-Barthel A, Ross M, Wang B, Baar K. Vitamin C–enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;105(1):136–143
- Tebbe B, Wu SL, Geilen CC, Eberle J, Kodelja V, Orfanos CE. L-ascorbic acid inhibits UVA-induced lipid peroxidation and secretion of IL-1 alpha and IL-6 in cultured human keratinocytes in vitro. J Invest Dermatol, 108(1997):302-306.
- V A Ziboh, R S Chapkin. Metabolism and function of skin lipids. Prog Lipid Res. 1988;27(2):81-105.
- Burr GO, Burr MM. On the nature and role of the fatty acids essential in nutrition. J Biol Chem. 1930;(86):587-621.
- Marsiñach MS, Cuenca AP. The impact of sea buckthorn oil fatty acids on human health. Lipids Health Dis. 2019; 18: 145.