Unless you absolutely don’t care for beauty trends, you’ve probably heard the word “collagen” pop up at a consistent rate. It’s considered the holy grail of skincare ingredients, and its mystical allegations of firming skin and making wrinkles a thing of the past has led to shelves upon shelves of collagen-infused serums, moisturizers, drinkable elixirs, and more.
Collagen is beloved by the stars: Lady Gaga swears it plumps her lips, Jennifer Aniston takes it in supplement form, and Kourtney Kardashian even makes her own batch of collagen elixirs. But, what makes this ingredient so great?
“Collagen is one of the most abundant materials in our skin, and helps gives our skin its strength and texture,” says Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Christopher Zoumalan MD. “With aging and sun exposure, collagen structure can change and can negatively affect the texture and overall appearance of skin.”
If collagen is already in our bodies, why do we need to take in more? Well, New York dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe told WebMD that, as we get older, our bodies break down collagen—which she refers to as “the glue that holds the body together” and is found in everything from our hair to our joints—faster than we can create and replace it. Therefore, she suggests ingesting collagen to keep that “glue” intact.
Dr. Zoumalan also agrees: “Collagen supplementation is a hot topic now, and although it is not regulated, my patients see improvements in the quality of their skin with oral collagen supplements. There are some early studies that show that there is a possible trend that oral collagen supplementation can help improve the appearance of skin.”
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So, what’s the difference between grabbing a face cream infused with collagen, and using a digestible formula? According to Anixia Rodriguez, founder of La Sirène collagen powders, it’s pretty major:
“Topical collagen only covers the epidermis where applied, so you’re not really penetrating down to your dermis or receiving the benefits all over your body,” she says. “Topical collagen can be a quick fix or nicely paired with an ingestible, but it is not a long-term solution. When you’re ingesting collagen, you’re ingesting it into your intestines just like any other proteins, nutrients, or food that you intake. That collagen protein then gets distributed to your bloodstream and is not only targeting your skin, but also targeting your body as a whole, repairing your skin as well as many other health and beauty benefits from the inside out. It is an overall rejuvenation.”
To put it simply: If you’re just trying to target your skin, go for topicals. If you want to get a head-to-toe boost of collagen, then you may want to get your hands on a powder. Below, check out some of our favorite collagen-infused picks.
Algenist GENIUS Liquid Collagen
If you’re looking for the holy grail of collagen skincare, look no further. This golden serum is packed with collagen to firm your skin while giving your complexion a radiance boost.
La Sirène 100% Natural Marine Beauty Collagen
Want to give collagen powders a try? Then grab La Sirène’s marine-derived formula, which is packed with 5 mg of collagen per travel-sized packet (perfect for anyone that’s on-the-go) to give any drink—yes, even your post-work margarita—a boost.
Dr. Roebuck’s Down Under Collagen Boosting Eye Treatment
When it comes to your complexion, the most sensitive part of your face is your under-eyes, so show it a little TLC with this ultra-nourishing eye treatment. It contains a collagen-hyaluronic acid complex to give your skin the ultimate hydration boost, so your under-eyes look fresh and lively no matter how much (or little) sleep you got the night before.
Moon Juice Beauty Shroom Vegan Collagen Protection
This one is for all of my vegans out there: This collagen-infused powder is made out of plant-based superfoods like mushrooms, plus the helpful addition of hydrating hyaluronic acid, to give your skin a plumper, youthful finish.