Collagen: What’s Hype and What’s Right?

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Guest writer: Barbara Del Castello

You’ve been seeing it everywhere: Collagen is the newest and hottest beauty product. But it’s moved from the beauty aisle into your grocery store and supplements. In fact, in 2018 there were nearly 300 collagen-containing snacks available. But what is the science behind collagen and what’s just hype?

What is Collagen?

Collagen is group of fibrous structural proteins, think of it as the scaffolding of your bodies’ tissues. Collagen can be found everywhere from your skin to your bones. As you age, your body produces less and less of this protein. The idea behind your collagen creams and edibles is that by putting an abundance of this precious protein in your body, it will utilize it and make your joints work better, and your skin look radiant.

Do Supplements and Edibles Work?

There is a study that has shown that just a few grams of collagen did improve the skin elasticity of around 50 women aged 35-55 years old. And no side effects were found in the study. But besides this study and one done in mice, there is very little evidence that your favorite collagen-powder is going to make your smoothie anymore super. In fact, dermatologists are skeptical.

Collagen is a pretty big molecule, and typically your body when given collagen (like if you eat meat), it breaks it down and uses the parts to build other important proteins. It’s like scraping a car for its parts. And that’s most likely what your body is doing to that delicious supplement bar you munched on.

Skin Care- Collagen-based Creams

But how do creams and other skin products fare? What if you skip the stomach entirely and just applied it to your face? Remember how I mentioned that collagen is a pretty big molecule? This means that unfortunately, the molecule is too big to be even absorbed into your skin. But don’t chuck your Drunk Elephant out the window just yet, though. You might see some nice effects from the cream sitting on top of your skin. These creams retain water well, hydrating your skin. But this is shorter term change than collagen actually reversing aging.

Bottom Line

There really isn’t much out there to prove or disprove that collagen works. So, if you’re looking to save money on your beauty routine, I’d recommend holding back until more studies are completed. If you don’t mind spending the money and want to hedge your bets, there are no known side effects to ingesting collagen, so you can rest assured your collagen tea is at worst neutral.

If you’re younger, preventative is the best way to keep your face radiant. Non-smokers who wear at least SPF 30 daily will have more youthful looking skin longer. So next time you go out for a day out in the sun, make sure to lather up and wear your cute new sun hat- then you won’t need this in the future.

Nitasha Syed