These days, you can’t navigate the beauty aisle without seeing the word “collagen” brandished in just about every product imaginable. From serums to sheet masks, each product claims to either preserve, boost or restore its production. But before you dismiss this collagen craze as just another beauty fad, let’s take a look at what it is exactly and why we need so much of it in the first place.
Collagens are a protein peptide that comprise 30 percent of our body’s total protein mass—making them the most abundant protein in mammals. “It’s the structural protein of the body and the stress-resistant material of the skin,” says Dr. Maral K. Skelsey, MD, director of the Dermatologic Surgery Center and clinical associate professor of Dermatology at Georgetown University. “Found in the skin as well as tendons, cartilage, ligaments and linings of bones and blood vessels, it allows the body and the skin to retain its shape and resist tearing and deformation.”
There are 28 types of collagen, with Type I, II and III being the most common (constituting 80 to 90 percent of our body’s collagen supply). Because of its fibrous nature, collagen is often referred to as the body’s “scaffolding,” supporting and connecting tissues and internal organs. Think of it as the glue that holds everything together.
Among other things, collagen is responsible for keeping skin firm, supple and smooth. It improves elasticity, which reduces the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite, and is one of the building blocks of our fingernails and hair. Unfortunately, our body inevitably loses collagen over time. Starting in our 20s, its production goes down by 1 percent each year.
“Collagen fibers are degraded by enzymes and synthesis can be diminished by UV exposure from the sun, which can lead to photoaging or wrinkling,” explains Dr. Skelsey. The breaking down of collagen is also further affected by other factors such as pollution, smoking, alcohol and stress.
But all is not lost. According to Dr. Harry Glassman of SkinClinical, “Collagen production can be increased by improving the metabolism of the skin.” Laser and ultrasound procedures can help encourage the production of collagen, with topical retinoid and retinol being alternatives to in-office procedures. Collagen supplements—particularly those with collagen-boosting ingredients like vitamin C, zinc and hyaluronic acid—and a healthy diet and lifestyle, can also help prevent the destruction of collagen.
In the never-ending quest for healthier skin, knowing is indeed half the battle. The other half? Finding the right products to give your skin its much-needed collagen boost. Below are our top picks!
When it comes to skin care products, serums are just about as potent as it can get, and this collagen serum is no exception. With a clinically proven formula that features a patented active ingredient and combines avocado oil, hydrolyzed silk and shea butter, it boosts the skin’s natural regenerative process, improving thickness, texture and elasticity.
Dark spots, fine lines and dull skin got you down? This serum has you covered—thanks to its potent formula that features amino acids to hasten cell renewal, antioxidants and niacinamide to protect and repair and vitamin C to encourage collagen synthesis. The result? Fresher, more radiant-looking skin!
While we’re still waiting for definitive proof to back up collagen supplements, experts agree on one thing: focusing on a healthy diet with collagen-enhancing ingredients will work wonders for your skin! This collagen supplement features vitamins C and E and hyaluronic acid—all essential in collagen synthesis—that stimulate its natural production process. But here’s the best part: Each pill comes packed with Type I, II and III peptides to boost your skin’s collagen levels.
Like true beauty, healthy skin shines from within. Featuring grape seed extract that prevents the breakdown of collagen and elastin and vitamin E to protect from free radical damage, this collagen supplement counters the signs of aging from the inside, leaving you with firmer, smoother and youthful-looking skin on the outside.
Dry skin isn’t something you want to be rocking regardless what time of the year it is, but it’s particularly problematic during the cold months. This hydrator features an ultra-nourishing formula of shea butter and hyaluronic acid to keep mature and dry skin plump and hydrated. It’s also infused with emollients, wheat protein and sweet almond oil to improve complexion and moisture retention and restore balance.
Marine collagen is popular for those with known cow, pig or chicken allergies, so this anti-aging cream works best for those with sensitive skin. It’s been clinically proven to reduce wrinkle depth by 78 percent and increase hydration by up to 45 percent. Featuring jojoba, vitamin E, shea butter and antioxidants, this moisturizing cream promotes smoother, firmer and brighter skin while protecting it from environmental stress.
Aloe vera contains a plethora of vitamins and nutrients, including enzymes that stimulate cells to manufacture collagen. This firming facial mask blends aloe vera, essential oils, antioxidants and vitamins C and E to address visible signs of aging, counter environmental damage and gently nourish and protect your skin.