Over the past few years, collagen-boosting products have popped up in the form of powders, supplements, lotions, serums, gummy bears and even beer.
More and more people are spending money on collagen, seeking out fillers or buying special creams in the hopes of minimizing wrinkles and achieving more supple skin. But what’s actually the best way to make sure you’re getting all of the added collagen you want?
To figure out the best way to boost your collagen ― and which methods to avoid to save your money ― HuffPost spoke with three skincare professionals. They told us what exactly collagen is, the best ways to boost collagen production and which methods to avoid.
First of all, what exactly is collagen?
“Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It is formed by the linking and winding together of amino acids to form collagen fibers,” Alyssa R. Golas, MD, plastic surgeon at NYU Langone Health, told HuffPost. ”There are many different types of collagen, and they are found in varying ratios in skin, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels, bone, and scar tissue, to name a few.”
She added, “Collagen synthesis, or the formation of new collagen, is an essential part of wound healing. Collagen also gives structure and strength to our skin.”
But as we enter our mid-30s, Anne Chapas, MD, a dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at Union Square Dermatology in New York, told HuffPost that our bodies begin to produce less collagen. That’s why so many of us are on a quest to replace it.
The jury is out as to whether or not ingesting collagen helps skin.
As of now, there isn’t a lot of good, conclusive data on ingesting collagen via pills and powders and what it does to your skin, according to Mary Stevenson, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health.
“A lot of patients ask me about taking collagen orally. We do not have good data to suggest that ingesting collagen will result in it reaching your skin,” Stevenson said. “When you ingest a protein it is broken down into amino acids and your body absorbs the nutrients you need. Generally speaking, unless you are deficient in protein, your body is remarkably efficient at absorbing what you need and discarding what you do not need.”
She added that you can instead make some beneficial changes to your diet to slow down your loss of collagen. “Fish that you eat, such as tuna, salmon, or fish oil supplements, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and vitamin A also helps to scavenge free radicals, both of which can prevent loss or degradation of collagen.”