They claim to re-plump our skin with every sip but do they really keep signs of skin ageing at bay? Collagen drinks are very popular nowadays; the suggestion of simply taking one drink a day to support our body’s collagen levels sounds tempting. However, even though the potential benefits are worth exploring, the scientific evidence supporting these supplements is still shaky.
Collagen is a protein made up of amino acids – London based nutritionist Lily Soutter says-. It’s the structural component of skin and as we age production declines which can lead to wrinkle formation and sagging skin. Whilst delaying collagen breakdown may reduce skin ageing, there is no robust evidence to link collagen consumption with increased collagen in the skin. As collagen is a protein, it’s likely to break down into amino acids within the body via digestion, and then used wherever required but not necessarily to rebuild collagen within the skin.
Still, a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology showed an improvement in the skin in women who consumed a collagen peptide drink. These wonder-shots do not add the collagen peptides directly to the dermis, but rather act as a feedback mechanism to trigger our own natural collagen production that starts to slow down from our early 20s by 1-1.5% every year. By the time we turn 50, most individuals will have lost about 50% of the Collagen in their skin causing sagging and wrinkles. Of course, this rate will depend also on various lifestyle factors, such as diet, sun exposure, sleep and stress levels plus genetics and hormones.
How Collagen Supplements work
Collagen has long been a popular ingredient in skin creams, but there is a question over whether it can penetrate the epidermis (outer layer of skin). On the other hand, injecting collagen has fallen out of favour, as it doesn’t last as long as some alternative fillers and has been associated with complications such as allergic reactions. So Collagen has been popped into bottles of colourful packaged fruity water (but you can also buy unflavoured collagen powder to stir into juices, smoothies, soups and even coffee).
In fact, it is believed Hydrolysed Collagen (protein solution that has been already broken down into peptides) might fool your brain into thinking that damage has been done to your collagen, spurring your body to produce more. However, what works in the lab doesn’t always work for our skin. Another problem with these supplements is that they often use a combination of ingredients. This means you can’t say for sure that it’s the collagen having an effect. It’s even trickier since there are actually 28 different types of Collagen, and not all of them help your skin.
Those who prefer a supplement should use refrigerated, liquid collagen or collagen powder mixed into a cold beverage. Collagen peptides have already been melted and are therefore similar to other protein powders. And remember that not all commercially available collagens are equal.
Always find out where your collagen comes from – Brooke Russell, Assistant Professor of Microbiology, Texas A&M University says-. If you have a fish, egg, or shellfish allergy, be sure your collagen comes from another source. Select a brand that provides your collagen of interest. If you’re looking for joint health, collagen type II is your best bet. If you’re looking for a skin or hair boost, collagen type I would likely work best.
Are Collagen supplements safe?
According to Healthline experts, taking collagen is associated with a number of health benefits and very few known risks. For starters, supplements may improve skin health by reducing wrinkles and dryness. They may also help increase muscle mass, prevent bone loss and relieve joint pain. Also, they are generally safe, quite easy to use and definitely worth trying for their potential benefits. However, topical products like creams containing vitamin A with ingredients like retinol and tretinoin would work as well. In fact, together with Vitamin C serums, these are the gold standard for boosting collagen in the skin.