As a person ages, their body produces less collagen. The lack of collagen results in the common signs of skin aging.
You can't 'add' collagen to your body, but you can help your own collagen production.
Collagen protein powders are trending. Big time. It's why we're seeing brand ambassadors like Khloe Kardashian (see above) starting to advocate them.
Speaking specifically to the collagen proteins (there are 28 of them), your body makes them. You can prevent the loss of collagen (wearing SPF) or encourage collagen production (Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin C*, Retinoids, LED Light Therapy) but you can't add it, ingest it, inject it.
Eating foods rich in Omega 6 or Vitamin C, topical treatments that encourage natural collagen production, and prevent the loss of collagen (wearing SPF30+ and sun protection) is scientifically proven to have a benefit on maintaining your skin's collagen for longer.
Do collagen supplements work?
They help obese OR physically active people lose fat body mass (based on human trials) and they help suppress the affects of sunburn (when tested on mice) and increase the size and density of collagen your body produces (when tested on pigs).
Collagen protein powder and suppliments is an expensive product with flashy marketing and packaging advocated by social media influencers... which doesn't 'generally' align with ingredient based, scientifically proven skincare.
In theory, collagen protein powders and suppliments ingested, survive digestion in the stomach and liver (which means they are high grade) and are absorbed into the blood stream via the digestion track to go on to work their fountain of youth miracles. According to the marketing, that's straight to your hair, skin and nails.
Unfortunately, you usually have very little control over where your body puts things. When you eat or drink a protein like collagen, your stomach and small intestine will break the protein down using enzymes. These small fragments are generally up to three amino acids long before your body can absorb them. That’s not a lot of amino acids. And most of the time your body can’t tell these particular fragments come from collagen — they could be any number of other proteins. (Healthline.com)
There is a 2009 study by the University of Tokyo (on male mice) that shows that when taking collagen daily, there was a positive and measurable impact on reducing the affects of sunburn (by suppressing UVB induced decreases in skin hydration).
In Korea, the epicentre of beauty research, a study in 2019 (and similarly studied in 2019 in Germany) took research previously shown on animals, and tested on 81 people. They looked into the affect of skate skin collagen peptide on reducing obesity. The results: A measurable reduction in body mass (weight) for the group who collagen suppliments derived from Skate skin. With no differences in calorie intake, exercise, smoking, drinking and other key weight-loss contributors the group taking fish collagen protein lost weight, while the control group didn't.
Given the independant research for skin benefits of collagen are mostly animal based, with high grade collagen suppliments, the best thing you can do, is to make sure the collagen your ingesting is quality not marketing and milk powder.
Most supplements use collagen that’s been hydrolysed (broken up), but you can break it up in many different ways. It’s likely that the body doesn’t necessarily treat them all the same way. The quality collagen that's used in scientific trials is extracted with hot water from animal bone, hide, or fish scales and is called gelatin, its hydrolysate is often called collagen peptide (CP) when used as a supplement. So if you purchase collagen protein, investigate the source and the process of preparation (after all this is the part that justifies the expense).
But to us... it looks like patting the waters of the fountain of youth onto your skin is still more effective than drinking from it! Look for topical products like creams containing vitamin A with ingredients like retinol and tretinoin. These are the gold standard for boosting collagen in the skin. Vitamin C serums are also fantastic for increasing collagen production.
*Research from the Indian Dermatology Online Journal suggests that vitamin C plays an important role in protecting the skin and creating more collagen in the body.