The ingestible collagen boom began several years ago, ans still shows no signs of abating. In fact, it’s been given yet another bump by avid TikTokkers touting its beauty benefits as ever more options pour into the marketplace. Among the promises: It will bless you with dewy, plump skin, strong nails, supple joints, even healthier hair. It seems too good to be true – and, in fact, its popularity has been met with waves of shake – oil skepticism from those who question its scientific validity. Yet as more research mounts up, the case for collagen is becoming increasingly persuasive. If you haven’t jump on the bandwagon already, this may be your cue.
‘Initially, there was a lot of skepticism because collagen is a very long, complicated polypeptide’, says New York dermatologist Whitney Bow, MD. ‘When people tried to envision this very large molecule somehow being absorbed intact through the intestine, making its way impact through the bloodstream and somehow ending up plumping up that exact wrinkle on your face, it seemed like science fiction. But then we started learning more about these collagen peptides work. When they are hydrolyzed, they are sliced up into little dipeptides and tripeptides, which are small chain of two or three amino acids, and these can get absorbed through the intestinal lining and ho through your bloodstream. Some of them do end up in the skin, where they act as cellular signals’.
In other words, the collagen itself isn’t going straight into your skin tissue and making it look bouncier, but it is sending messages to cells, telling them to upregulate natural collagen production. What you’re seeing is your own collagen, goosed. However, there is one cavet: ‘When you ingest collagen, you can’t decide where it goes’, says Bowe. ‘Your body decides. If you have a knee injury, your body may shuttle most of those di – and – tripeptides into your knee, and you may feel that your knee injury heals more quickly. Collagen is ubiquitous throughout your body, so only some of it is going to make that difference you want to see in your skin’.
The studies that have been done on ingestible collagen are, admittedly, small and limited. But that in no way means that they aren’t valid, says Bowe. ‘They are preliminary, that is true, but they’re intriguing. There are a number of studies that do show that by taking a supplement that has collagen in it, you can increase hydration in the skin and moisture retention. You can also increase elasticity in the skin, and you can help with fine lines and wrinkles. There are actually di – and – tripeptides can even persist in the skin for two to three weeks after you take a supplement’.
Bowe has anecdotally seen improvements in patients’ skin who have been taking collagen, and noted that some even increase their dosage when having certain procedures in order to speed up recovery. ‘If we do a Frazel or a Sculptura treatment, or micro – needling, anything where you’re trying to get the fibroblasts to sort of a heal a wound by stimulating collagen production, it make sense’, says Bowe. ‘I’be had patients I’ve been treating for over a decade and when they started adding the collagen into their recovery, they felt like they got better results out of the treatment. I’ve been impressed’.
Collagen can also be enhanced by eating collagen – rich foods, such as bone broth, or foods rich in vitamins and minerals that support collagen production. Carla Oates, founde of The Beauty Ched, launched her Collagen Inner Beauty Boost liquid, a vegan supplement containing ingredients that both stimulate collagen and supports its degradation, eight years ago and it is still a best – seller. ‘When it comes to the health of our skin, collgen support is increadibly important, because our bodies’ production of collagen becomes less efficient as we get older, resulting in some of the most common sign of aging, including joint pain, wrinkles and weakened muscles’, says Oates. ‘Other lifestyle factors – think UV exposure, high sugar intake, smoking and a diet that’s lacking in nutrients – can also impact both collagen production and the breakdown of collagen’. The key dietary nutrients for collagen production include chromium, copper and zinc, Omega – 3, silica, sulfur, vitamin C, iron, theronine, proline, and lysine – all of which are found in The Beauty Chef’s Collagen Inner Beauty Boost. ‘Traditionally our bodies produce collagen by combining amini acids – found in protein – rich – foods – with essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, copper and zinc.’ says Oates, ‘but sometimes it can be difficult to ensure that you’re getting all of the nutrients, which is why a collagen supplement might be worth considering’.
If you choose to go with a traditional collagen supplement – that is, one that contains marine or animal – derived collagen peptides – Bowe says that the most important guideline is to see what research the brand has behind it, and whether or not it has conduceted any independent studies. ‘I think there are a lot of great supplements out there. It just comes down to two things: the efficacy studies that have been done on these ingredients, and the safety and the transparency of the company’.