Name any aging concern from sagging to wrinkles and a lack of collagen is likely to be a cause. Jennifer Aniston for one loves collagen so much, she’s an ambassador for Vital Proteins, an American company set up by a rocket scientist (yes, really) that produces a wide range of collagen supplements and has impressive clinical results.
So what does collagen do?
It’s one of the great pillars of healthy skin – literally, since it acts like scaffolding. But it’s also crucial for healthy joints, ligaments, corneas, hair, nails… Saggy jawline? Achy joints? That’ll be in no small part down to your collagen depleting levels, which they do, with ever greater speed, once you hit your mid-20s. By our 50s, we’ve generally lost a third of it. But there are plenty of ways to give your collagen a boost.
How can I use collagen?
You can apply it topically to skin, eyelids, lips – in fact, it’s everywhere, including in shampoos, conditioners, lipsticks… My money’s on products that encourage the skin to produce its own, such as Alexandra Soveral’s Forever Young Eye Cream. But I’m especially interested in taking it internally, with the aim not just of increasing levels but of boosting internal production.
What can collagen be found in?
There are plenty of collagen-rich foods, including oily fish, eggs, berries (and any other abundant sources of vitamin C), red and yellow vegetables and garlic. Facial massage and intermittent fasting can also increase the body’s own production. Meanwhile, the industry is abuzz about collagen supplements and creamers (to add to coffee and, allegedly, tea). The evidence is encouraging.
There are three main collagen sources – bovine, marine and plant. Bovine has long been considered far and away the most effective. But a 2015 study found that marine-sourced collagen can have significantly beneficial effects on wrinkles, hair and nail strength and even cellulite (although not as much as pork-derived collagen) and that both forms encourage the body to produce its own. Look for hydrolised versions, which means they’re more bio-available (translation: the body is more likely to absorb them).
What are the best collagen beauty products?
Leading UK aesthetician Dr Sophie Shotter recommends Zenii Skin Fusion’s high-strength marine-sourced collagen. It’s currently reduced to £65 (originally £85) for 20 servings, but also delivers hyaluronic acid, magnesium and a slew of vitamins and, according to Dr Shotter, ‘provides everything your skin needs to make more of its own collagen’.
Or there’s Yourzooki liposomal marine collagen, which uses a special technology much raved about by pharmacist Shabir Daya, co-founder of Victoria Health, because it ensures the ingredients reach its target areas without being destroyed by the stomach’s acids.
Then there are Dose & Co’s powders, £29.99, and Ingenious Beauty’s capsules, £88 for 60 days, one of the most effective supplements on the market – 98 per cent of users in a clinical trial reported improved skin and reduced wrinkles. I’ve been taking collagen powders, including Vital Proteins’ marine-sourced ones, for a couple of months in berry and oat-milk smoothies and my skin and hair have both improved. Don’t do it either. Pricey, but I no longer fritter on takeaway coffees. Ergo justified.
Best collagen beauty products