It is possible to see someone adding it to their coffee. You might also see someone sipping brownish liquids midday (and it’s not coffee). Or you can take capsules with other morning vitamins. It’s collagen and one of the most sought-after ingredients in skin care.
Marisa Garshick MD is a New York City-based dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Collagen is the key to smooth skin. Your skin will have fewer wrinkles if you have more collagen. According to a Marine Drugs article, April 2020, there are 28 types of collagen. The skin contains collagen types 1 and 3.
Dr. Garshick says that collagen starts to disappear in the twenties. Although you may not see the visible results of this loss until your thirties or twenties, it is happening. Free radical damage and UV exposure caused by environmental factors such as pollution can lead to collagen’s weakening and eventual destruction.
The popularity of topical creams and supplements has increased due to greater awareness about the importance of collagen in health. Whitney Bowe MD, a celebrity dermatologist from New York City, says there was much healthy skepticism when collagen powders and supplements first appeared. She explains that the collagen molecule is very large, making it difficult for collagen to penetrate the skin in any application method.
Is Ingestible Collagen Effective?
To have any chance of collagen making its way into the skin, where it can have any tangible effect, it must be absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestine. Does collagen then smoothen wrinkles?
There is evidence that the process doesn’t work as smoothly as it should. The collagen you eat now will show up in your skin later. Dr. Bowe is passionate about teaching her patients about collagen and is active on social media (@drwhitneybowe)
Collagen is broken down into tri- and di-peptides. These peptides are composed of amino acids. Bowe states that these peptides then enter the bloodstream through the intestine. They are then absorbed into the skin’s blood vessels. Bowe explains that these tiny bits of collagen act as signals to collagen-making cells, called fibroblasts, that tell the skin there is a wound in need of repair. This aligns with Bowe’s findings in March 2020 Nutrients.
Consider what happens when your skin is scraped. The injury has caused collagen to be damaged, which causes more collagen production in the healing process. Bowe explains that, except for collagen powder, you haven’t caused any skin damage. However, the small collagen pieces have affected your body’s wound-healing mechanism.
But here’s the catch: Collagen is all over your body. You can’t tell where a collagen supplement is going to work. Some might be directed at joints, for instance. Bowe says, “Your body makes that decision for you.”
Garshick says that the data are still being collected, and questions remain about the absorption of oral collagen into the bloodstream. There are some promising results, such as a study that examined the effects of oral hydrolyzed collagen supplements for 90 days. It found that they improved skin hydration, elasticity and wrinkles better than a placebo, according to a meta-analysis published in March 2021 in the International Journal of Dermatology. Hydrolyzed collagen refers to collagen that has already been broken down. This may make it easier to absorb.
Best: Collagen Supplements
Although there is still some doubt about collagen supplements, they may not be as effective as external methods to increase collagen.
Collagen capsules can be made from collagen powder, but some brands may include other skin-supportive ingredients like hyaluronic and vitamin C.
Collagen can also be made into a gel, adding sugar and other ingredients to make it gummy. Capsules can be an alternative to gummies if you don’t enjoy gummies.
But, scan the label and compare the number of collagen peptides contained in the capsules with the powder. According to a January 2019 review in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, a daily dose of 2.5-10 g (g) of collagen-peptides was effective in improving skin elasticity and hydration.
Collagen Powder vs. Collagen Capsules
Collagen is available in capsule or powder form. These include collagen peptides which are broken down to collagen. The dose per serving is one of the main differences.
A scoop of Vital Proteins powder contains 20g of collagen, while the brand’s collagen capsule, which contains collagen peptide powder inside the capsule, contains only 3.3g of collagen. That is six capsules. These capsules require that you swallow several pills daily. They recommend six capsules twice daily to get 6.6 g of collagen peptides per day.
If collagen powder is not within your budget, you can look for a bovine or marine collagen supplement. These supplements contain collagen types 1 and 3, essential for skin health. Trusted supplement brands will conduct independent lab testing to ensure their products are safe and free from contaminants. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides ($25, VitalProteins.com), Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate ($25.99, GreatLakesGelatin.com), and Live Conscious Collagen Peptides ($28.99, WeLiveConscious.com) are three options that fit the bill. Having a formula or diet containing vitamin C is also helpful. This is vital for collagen production.