First came the serums. Then came the face oils. Next, the acids. The breadth of options at our disposal nowadays when it comes to the never-ending (andsome say problematic) quest for flawless skin is at once thrilling and utterly overwhelming. Is there solace to be had in the application of Korean sheet masks paired with a glass of wine after work? For sure. Is the implementation of a 19-step skincare regimen before bed a bit much? To each her own etc.
But amidst the boom of topical skincare products in recent years, we’ve entered a new frontier, working from the outside in: Collagen supplements.
Collagen, which is the main structural protein in our skin, hair and nails, reduces its rate of production byone percent every yearstarting at age 20. And that’s just the standard rate of loss, which doesn’t account for the damage done by smoking, sun exposure, and stress. Our skin’s natural exfoliation abilities also drastically decrease in our 20sby nearly 30 percent, and collagen production virtually stops altogether in our 40s.
Faced with such ~harrowing~ statistics, the skin-care obsessed masses are perfectly primed to gobble up collagen products like it’s our own biological edition ofHoarders. Products likeMusley’s Hello Beautiful Collagen & Multivitamn Powder,Vital Proteins Collagen Peptidespowder, andSkinadeall make big claims when it comes to being an ingestible products that promises big health benefits with a side of “anti-aging.” But despite the logic behind these products—that lost collagen can simply be replaced—it’s not that simple.
“Dietary supplements are notoriously unregulated, meaning you can’t really be sure what you’re ingesting and where it’s coming from.”
“It wouldseemthat ingesting collagen would replete your lost stores and result in plump skin,” notes registered dietician andGirlbosscontributor Alexandra Reed, “but it’s unclear if these supplements survive the acidity of the digestive tract and make it to that point.”
She points out that there are simply too limited a number of studies conducted on this subject to draw an accurate conclusion, though she makes note ofone studythat showed increased hydration in the skin as well as increased collagen density after four weeks of supplementation.
Reed notes, however, that there is more compelling evidence that a collagen supplement can help your joint health. “But that’s not as big of a seller in business as the never-ending battling against our natural aging process,” she says.
There’s (probably) no harm in going ham
If the limited evidence is enough to compel you to fork over some cash for supplements, here’s a bit of good news: Collagen supplements are often formulated with additional ingredients that can deliver some extra benefits—even if they’re not as miraculous as their marketing efforts purport.
New Orleans-based dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo notes that most products are a mix of vitamins, proteins and antioxidants, and this cocktail of ingredients can improve your health overall. Musely’s Hello Beautiful powder, for instance, contains vitamin C, D, E, A and K, in addition to its marine-based collagen component.
“Nothing, however, is better than regular sunscreen use and topical products that have a direct effect on collagen production,” Lupo says. Products such as retinol, which is derived from vitamin A, have been studied extensively as effective agents to thatstimulate collagen production.
Pick your protein
The rise of self-care as an industry over the last decade or so has resulted in a huge windfall for the dietary supplement industry; by 2022, the industry is expected to represent more than $220 billion in global sales, according toa report released earlier this year.
But here’s the kicker: Dietary supplements arenotoriously unregulated, meaning you can’t really be sure what you’re ingesting and where it’s coming from. And this lack of regulation plays into the industry’s ability to make virtually unchecked claims on efficacy and results.Plumper skin from a powder you mix into your smoothie? OK, maybe. But a supplement from a multi-level marketing company that claims tocure cancer and reverse Down Syndrome? Holy shit. No. Stay sharp out there, bb.
“If you’re eager to put your faith in some undertested science, well, collagen supplements generally won’t hurt anything aside from your checking account.”
Additionally, the consensus amongst scientists and nutrition experts is that getting nutrients from food isgenerally superior to taking supplements. “My advice is to consume collagen is through whole foods like fish, and foods high in vitamin C that support collagen production,” Reed says. “And FYI to all of the vegan and vegetarians out there: Most collagen supplements are sourced from beef collagen.”
TL;DR We’re all scared to death of getting old. If you’re trying to turn back the hands of time, first, abide this timeless, universal piece of advice:Wear some gosh dang sunscreen. After that, eating whole foods containing collagen and using some retinol products on your skin can help give you that glow-glow.
And if you’re eager to put your faith in some undertested science, well, collagen supplements generally won’t hurt anything aside from your checking account.