Multi-vitamin gummy, vitamin D sachet, vitamin C capsule, all check.
Oh wait, should we be adding a collagen supplement to our morning routine as well?
These are the latest beauty products promising results, but are they worth the investment or just more quick-fix beauty hype?
According to Mintel, the global collagen industry is set to hit £755million by 2023, as looking well and staying healthy become more important to us after the pandemic.
Following on from the collagen drink hype a few years ago, where everyone from Millie Mackintosh to Laura Whitmore were posting about the benefits, a new wave of collagen supplements have recently been hitting the market. Even Khloé Kardashian has jumped on the wagon, having partnered with collagen brand Dose & Co.
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein and the most abundant protein in the human body. It has been called ‘the building blocks’ of our body and benefits include supporting a healthy musculoskeletal system, improving digestive health and raising energy levels.
As we age the dermis gets thinner due to collagen loss. In fact, after the age of 25 we lose 1.5 per cent of our collagen every year, which can cause loss of elasticity, fine lines, wrinkles and a lack of firmness.
While collagen in skincare is questionable (the molecules are too big to be absorbed by the dermis), it’s thought supplementing with collagen powders/liquids can ‘boost’ levels.
However, as a protein, collagen gets broken down in the digestive system and there’s also no guarantee the collagen will be sent to your face, where most of us would like to see the results.
With this in mind, we’ve asked two experts where they stand…
FOR collagen supplements
Dr Luigi Martini, professor of pharmaceutical innovation at King’s College, London:
‘Collagen plays a crucial part in our body’s structure,’ he says. ‘It is the main component of our skin, hair and nails as well as our bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and organs.
‘Many of the visible signs of ageing are down to our collagen levels, which reduce as we get older. You can exacerbate collagen decline with lifestyle choices including smoking, alcohol, stress, excessive sunbathing and high-intensity exercise and there’s no way to slow collagen decline down.
‘Collagen peptide supplements can help combat this loss and there has been more and more evidence showing the benefits of ingesting collagen peptides, hence the surge in demand and companies producing these supplements. It doesn’t matter if it’s liquid or powder, or bovine (a waste by-product from the meat industry that comes from tendons and other tissue not classed as food) or marine (extracted from the skin and scales of fish), the important point is that the collagen peptide needs to be protected against the action of the stomach.
‘Powders and liquids require you to ingest at least ten grams of collagen to see any benefit as most of the liquid or powder are in fact broken down by your stomach and therefore a minimal amount is absorbed and reaches the blood stream.
‘However, if the collagen is protected from breakdown and of a low molecular weight, you can actually absorb the collagen peptide directly into the bloodstream. This is when a collagen supplement is most effective. Generally, collagen will go where it is most required. The skin is the largest organ in the body and the face, being exposed to the elements, is often in most need of repair.’
AGAINST collagen supplements
Dr Emma Craythorne, consultant dermatologist and dermatological surgeon:
‘Collagen makes up about 75 per cent of the dry weight of our skin, providing volume that keeps skin looking plump and keeps lines at bay,’ she says. ‘It’s also rich in the amino acids proline and glycine, which you need to maintain and repair your tendons, bones, and joints.
‘As we get older, we break it down faster than we can replace it and it makes sense to drink more to replace it. However, it’s not quite so simple. The science is still in its infancy and the studies that claim to have good outcomes in terms of skin health are not that well conducted.
‘The majority of the studies are performed by the collagen brands themselves and many have been performed on animals or on cell lines. What works in a lab doesn’t always work for our skin. Even a systematic review that was carried out on humans, some placebo-controlled, all relied on subjective experience rather than quantitative data, making it less reliable.
‘More evidence needs to be amassed before I could advocate spending, in some cases, a lot of money on products that don’t do the job. When collagen products are ingested, they pass to the stomach where acid breaks it down and converts into the amino acid proline hydroxyproline. There is little proof collagen survives digestion and it may be unlikely that collagen makes it to the bloodstream let alone the correct layers of the skin.’
How to make Khloé Kardashian’s collagen banana bread
(Makes eight slices)
- 2 servings Dose & Co Vanilla Dairy Free Collagen Creamer
- 2 eggs
- 115g butter
- 120ml maple syrup
- 2 brown bananas (mashed)
- 60ml plain yoghurt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
- ¼ tsp salt
- 130g gluten-free ﬂour
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-assisted). Line a loaf pan with baking paper.
2. In a bowl, beat the eggs, then add the butter and maple syrup. Mix well.
3. Add the mashed bananas, yoghurt, baking soda, vanilla, and salt. Mix and add the ﬂour and collagen creamer. Make sure all the mixture are well combined.
4. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a knife (inserted in the centre of the loaf) comes out clean.
5. Let the bread cool on a wire rack before serving.
Looking to add supplements? Try these brands…
Ingenious Collagen uses three natural ingredients, marine collagen peptides, hyaluronic acid and astaxanthin. Encased in a capsule, it claims to protect from digestive juices, giving you a bigger hit. £54.99 (90 capsules), feelingenious.com
Developed in partnership with sports nutritionists and Andy Murray, TRR Pro Advanced Collagen contains 10,000mg of marine collagen, as well as hyaluronic acid, turmeric and vitamin C. It’s available in mango or tropical fruit flavour. £39.99 (300g), trrnutrition.com
Bioglan Beauty Collagen contains 5000mg of hydrolysed marine collagen plus hyaluronic acid, biotin, selenium and vitamin C. It’s heat-stable so suitable for drinks, baking and soups. £24.83 (151g), amazon.co.uk
Bare Biology sustainably source their omega-3 fish oil and marine collagen from Norway. Free from heavy metals and other nasties, the Skinful Marine Collagen Plus Vitamin C is strawberry flavoured and enhanced with vitamin C to aid immunity. £45 (300g), barebiology.com
Dose & Co’s Collagen Creamer Caramel has ten grams of bovine collagen per serving. It’s mixed with whole milk powder so can be added to coffee and it’s free from gluten, added sugar, artificial sweeteners and GMO. £27.99 (340g), doseandco.com
A favourite with Jennifer Aniston, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides contains collagen sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine. It’s neutrally flavoured, paleo-friendly, gluten and dairy-free and dissolves in hot and cold liquids. £21.20 (284g), vitalproteins.co.uk
This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.
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