You know collagen is key for firm, supple, and youthful-looking skin, and many of the anti-aging products we apply before bed claim to be packed with ingredients that are beneficial in boosting our own body’s synthesis of the beautifying protein. But can ingesting the protein itself, whether through a snack or a drink, give you better skin?
As the supplement market continues to expand, ingestible collagen is one category that seems to be picking up major steam.
"Oral forms are designed to increase the body’s natural collagen production so it can fortify and build collagen at the dermal layer,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman. "Oral supplementation helps to deliver specific amino acids, which are considered the building blocks of collagen synthesis.”
Basically, it’ll theoretically help your bod up the production, giving you wrinkle-free, firmer skin for longer in an inside-out effect.
As for the products? With waters and beverages, like Dirty Lemon and Vital Proteins Collagen Beauty Water that use marine collagen, daily supplements like the Hum Nutrition Collagen Love Skin Firming Supplement, and powders, it can get confusing to navigate.
"True collagen peptide supplements that have been researched can provide profound effects on skin integrity and youthful appearance," mentions Dr. Engelman. So there is science behind the trend. "However, it’s important to note that there are many collagen protein powders, bone broths, drinks and so on in the market today that simply lack the scientific substantiation."
So how does she recommend going about choosing?
Dr. Engelman thinks there are two important qualities to look for when choosing a supplement. "The first is trademarked sources of collagen, such as BioCell Collagen and Verisol, which guarantees traceability and consistency in the entire processing and manufacturing process. It ensures the collagen sources check out, best practices are met, and there is actual science behind the testing. The second quality is that the trademarked ingredient is clinically proven in human research to give you a more accurate picture of the results it could offer."
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Once ingested, she says the peptides are absorbed by the body to increase collagen production, and the benefits can be seen in the firmness of your skin, as well as in the strength of your hair and nails.
If you opt for a powder, she recommends picking up one that's tasteless, odorless, and dissolves easily and clearly because it indicates quality. "If the liquid appears cloudy and colored, this suggests there are fillers to add bulk."
One of Dr. Engelman's favorite products is Reserveage Nutrition Collagen Powder, of which she says was studied to reduce eye wrinkles by 20 percent in eight weeks, and Reserveage Nutrition Collagen Booster.
But it's not only found in supplements. You can add it to your diet, or help increase your own production of it, by choosing specific foods.
"Bone broth is a well-known and rich source of collagen," notes Dr. Engelman. "Egg whites are high in lysine, proline, and collagen. Consuming salmon provides omega-3 fatty acid, which helps to protect the skin cells and keep them healthy, supporting the structure of skin. Dark green vegetables and citrus fruits are both rich in vitamin C, which help neutralize free radicals from breaking down collagen."
Another important element to look out for is sulfur, found in legumes, nuts, garlic, and eggs. This, our pro mentions, can provide strength to the skin.
But as always, when you're considering adding a supplement to your daily diet, you should do thorough research and consult with your doctor to see if it's right for you.
Of course, maintaining youthful-looking skin can be as simple as limiting your sun exposure and practicing a healthy diet and lifestyle.
"Avoid prolonged UV exposure—sun exposure can dramatically accelerate skin aging by damaging and depleting collagen and hyaluronic acid. Other factors that contribute to loss of collagen include smoking, stress, and poor nutrition."