I think I get asked at least once a day what my thoughts are on Collagen.

Do supplements work?

How much should I take?

What about creams?

What about drinks?

As I tell my clients, some of the science is there but we have a ways to go. Collagen supplements and creams are relatively new and while there are some studies supporting its effectiveness there is still a lot more to learn. So, lets do as much of a “deep” dive as we can below on what works and what NOT to spend your $$$ on – backed by Science.

Amanda McLaughlin, Owner of Viva Aesthetics

Amanda McLaughlin is a Master Esthetician and Owner of Viva Aesthetics in Ridgefield, WA

Dietary Sources and Supplements

Collagen can be found in the bones and connective tissues of animals, which is why bone broth is often touted as a good source of collagen. Collagen supplements, typically made from animal tissues, are also widely available. These supplements are usually hydrolyzed, which means the collagen has been broken down, making it easier for the body to absorb.

Benefits and Uses

Collagen plays a role in:

  • Skin health: Enhancing skin hydration and elasticity.
  • Joint health: Helping to maintain the integrity of cartilage, which protects joints.
  • Bone strength: Assisting in the maintenance and repair of bone matrix.
  • Other benefits: Support for hair and nail growth, and potentially aiding in gut health.

Collagen is essential not only for cosmetic purposes but also for overall health, particularly in maintaining the strength and functionality of our connective tissues.

collagen what is it and what does it do

What is Collagen and what does it do?

Collagen is a protein that’s vital for human health and is the most abundant protein in the body, making up about one-third of our total protein content. It’s a key component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles. Here’s a breakdown of its roles and importance:

Structure

Collagen provides structure to the skin, strength to the bones, and elasticity and hydration to the dermis (the middle layer of skin). It’s what helps give our skin strength and elasticity, along with replacing dead skin cells.

Types of Collagen

There are at least 16 types of collagen, but 80-90% of the collagen in the body consists of types I, II, and III:

  • Type I: The most prevalent type, found in all connective tissue.
  • Type II: Predominantly used to build cartilages.
  • Type III: Commonly found in reticular fibers, such as in the skin and blood vessels.

Production and Age-Related Decline

The body naturally produces collagen, but this production decreases with age, leading to common aging signs like wrinkles, sagging skin, and joint pains due to thinner or less flexible cartilage. Other lifestyle factors like smoking, high sugar consumption, and excessive sun exposure can also diminish collagen levels.

 

 

So now that we understand why Collagen is so important, let’s share what you should do and what you should avoid when building back and stimulating collagen in your body.

 

do collagen supplements work?

Collagen Supplements: Do They Really Work?

Collagen supplements, often found in the form of pills or powders, are heralded for their convenience and potential benefits. These supplements are typically made from hydrolyzed collagen, which means the protein is broken down into smaller peptides that are easier for the body to absorb.

Scientific Backing: Studies suggest that oral collagen supplements can improve skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density. Research published in the Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals and the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology confirms that consistent supplementation can lead to noticeable reductions in wrinkles and improved skin hydration over several weeks.

Conclusion: Collagen supplements can be beneficial, particularly for skin health, but results may vary depending on the individual’s age, diet, and the quality of the product.

collagen creams do they work

Collagen Creams: Surface-Level or Skin Deep?

Collagen creams are a staple in skincare aisles, promising to deliver collagen directly to the skin. The appeal is obvious, but the effectiveness is less so.

Scientific Backing: The main challenge with collagen creams lies in the collagen molecule’s size—it’s typically too large to penetrate the skin’s outer layer. This means that while these creams may offer excellent hydration, they’re unlikely to increase collagen levels in the skin effectively.

Conclusion: While collagen creams can moisturize and temporarily improve the skin’s appearance, don’t count on them as a method for boosting your skin’s collagen structure.

do collagen drinks work

Collagen Drinks: Great tasting, but do they work?

The main selling point of collagen drinks is that the hydrolyzed collagen they contain is thought to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Research does support the idea that hydrolyzed collagen peptides can be absorbed into the bloodstream after oral ingestion. From there, these peptides can reach the skin and other parts of the body.

Scientific Backing: Several studies have evaluated the effects of collagen supplements, including drinks, on skin health with promising results:

  • Hydration and Elasticity: A study published in the “Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology” found that collagen intake significantly improved skin hydration and elasticity.
  • Wrinkle Reduction: Another study reported that daily ingestion of a collagen drink over 12 weeks led to a noticeable reduction in skin wrinkles and an increase in skin hydration and collagen density.
  • Joint Pain: Some studies suggest that collagen supplements may help reduce joint pain and the symptoms of arthritis by helping to maintain the integrity of cartilage.
  • Bone Health: Collagen intake might also be beneficial for bone health by helping to maintain bone density and strength.

Conclusion: While there is a growing body of research supporting the benefits of collagen drinks, the quality of these studies varies, with some being industry-funded, which can introduce bias. Moreover, the effectiveness of collagen drinks can depend on various factors like the source and concentration of collagen, the individual’s age, their overall diet and health, and their body’s ability to utilize the ingested collagen.

Medspa Treatments: The Heavy Hitters

For dramatic and scientific backed collagen building treatments, a medspa could be your best friend.

Depending upon your preference there are a number of treatments medspas offer that will give you those collagen boosting effects (and with some, an added bonus of removing age or sun spots).

Scientific Backing:

  • Microneedling: This treatment uses fine needles to create micro-injuries in the skin, stimulating the body’s natural healing process and boosting collagen production. Microneedling is performed with a pen type of tool (make sure your medspa uses one approved by the FDA – such as SkinPen™) and when numbed prior is a pain free treatment with little downtime.
  • Laser Therapy: Techniques like fractional laser treatment work by delivering precise amounts of energy to the skin, which not only damages the older collagen but also stimulates the growth of new, more youthful collagen. 
  • RF Therapy: By heating the deep layers of the skin, RF therapy induces collagen production, leading to tighter and more youthful skin over time.
  • Chemical Peels: Depending on the depth of the peel, chemical peels can stimulate collagen production by removing the top layers of the skin, encouraging cell renewal and collagen synthesis as part of the healing process.
  • LED Light Therapy: Although less aggressive than lasers and RF, LED light therapy can stimulate collagen production by using varying wavelengths of light to penetrate the skin at different depths, promoting skin regeneration and reducing inflammation.

Conclusion: Realistially, Medspa treatments offer the most reliable and noticeable improvements in skin collagen content, with scientific studies supporting their efficacy in skin rejuvenation and anti-aging.

As always, consult with a healthcare provider or a dermatologist before starting any new treatment plan to ensure it aligns with your health needs and skincare goals.

microneedling and laser for collagen boosting

If you are interested in a Collagen induction treatment at Viva Aesthetics or learning more from Amanda, please schedule an appointment below.