Your alarm goes off. Another Monday has once again graced your presence. Whoopee. And as much as you’d like to believe your favorite influencer who boasts “Today is an amazing day disguised as a Monday,” mentally you want to give anyone who says that the finger.
After getting the kids out the door and pondering your own breakfast, you come upon said influencer on Instagram introducing her go-to smoothie recipe. She sprinkles in the usual ingredients, some banana, spinach, honey, almond milk, berries, but then she makes mention of something you’ve heard plenty of buzz about: collagen powder.
“Anti-aging!” “Restores elasticity!” “Makes you look younger!” “Keeps your bones and joints healthy!”
This much hype surely means the product is somewhat gimmicky, right? As it turns out, despite the attention-grabbing headlines, the jury is still out on whether collagen actually works as it’s advertised.
We turned to our own in-house expert, our co-founder and chief dermatologist, Dr. Robin Schaffran, to get her two cents on collagen.
“Collagen is often referred to as the body’s scaffolding and the ‘glue that holds the body together,’” explains Dr. Schaffran. “It makes up about 75% of the dry weight of your skin, which keeps the skin looking plump. It’s also rich in amino acids that the body needs to repair tendons, bones, and joints.”
Dr. Schaffran, like many dermatologists, is skeptical of how well collagen is claimed to work, but notes that there have been some interesting studies that show that ingestible collagen can indeed impact the appearance of the skin. One study found improved skin elasticity and another found fewer wrinkles and improved blood flow. A 2019 review found results promising for wound healing and skin aging. Yet many MDs caution that the studies conducted were small and at least partially funded by the industry, also remarking that the science is still in its infancy. It holds promise, but there is simply not enough data to draw conclusive results.
“Critics argue that when you ingest collagen, stomach acids break it down to collagen proteins before they reach the skin, so it makes no sense theoretically how it could be of benefit,” Dr. Schaffran continues. “Quality control is important here. You must be diligent about your source of collagen, as some can be derived from animals that might be infected with disease.”
TLDR: The science on collagen isn’t conclusively proven to improve your skin, but ingesting collagen is unlikely to harm you so long as you do your research beforehand. But be aware of sensationalist headlines and keep in mind studies that are funded by collagen companies.