It feels like nowadays skin health is one of the trendiest topics. With everything from sunlight and sugar consumption to stress and beauty products damaging the appearance of the skin, it’s no wonder that we are more concerned about skin health than ever before. One of the most popular beliefs that has emerged over the years is that the use of collagen can lead to younger, fresher, and overall better-looking skin. Whether as an ingredient in creams and lotions, or as dietary supplement, the use of collagen has skyrocketed since it’s been dubbed “the fountain of youth”. But is this just hype? Or is there evidence to back this claim?
Let’s start with the basics. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is found in our hair, skin, and nails, as well as our bones, tendons, and ligaments. Our bodies naturally produce collagen but, after our twenties, our collagen production starts to decline. This is usually when our skin starts to get dry and wrinkly. Aging results in thinning of the three layers of the skin: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The thinning of these layers also decreases the collagen available in our skin. The decline in collagen production also affects our joints – we start feeling achy and less flexible. You can blame aging, in combination with smoking, excess sugar and alcohol consumption, and UV rays for the decline of collagen in your body.
How can adding collagen protein to your diet improve your skin health?
Disclaimer alert: collagen won’t make your skin soft and sparkly. Only a time machine that can take us back to our youth can do that. But collagen can help boost collagen production in the body which can have a positive effect on our skin health.
Collagen supplements can help slow down the “natural aging cycle” by improving skin elasticity, boosting moisture levels, and reducing wrinkles. When administered orally, collagen is able to reach the small intestine where it is quickly absorbed into the blood stream. Then, collagen can be distributed into the dermis, where it has been proven to last up to 14 days. Supplying collagen to the dermis can help replenish the collagen that has been decreasing naturally.
There have been numerous studies that show the positive impact that collagen has on the appearance of our skin. Below are some quick examples:
• 2006: Study conducted on 25 Japanese female subjects that were given 7g of collagen daily. After six weeks, the moisture content of the skin improved dramatically, displayed signs of greater smoothness, fewer wrinkles, and less skin roughness.
• 2014: Study conducted on 69 women aged 35 to 55 received 2.5 or 5.0g of collagen daily for eight weeks. After the trial period, skin elasticity and skin moisture improved.
• To add in some documentation on impact collagen has on nail appearance, there’s a study conducted in 2017: 25 participants were given 2.5g of collagen daily for 24 weeks. After the trial, nail growth increased, while the frequency of brittle nails decreased significantly.
These studies, amongst hundreds of others, demonstrate that skin hydration, elasticity, and density can be addressed by using collagen supplementation. As with all things, it’s not a miracle supplement that can turn your skin as smooth as a baby. But, taken daily, you can likely start seeing the positive effects after a few weeks. Afterwards you’ll notice that collagen is not a fad, but rather an essential nutrient that is key for all areas of our body.