Even though the body appears solid, it’s actually 70 percent water. After that, it’s mostly made up of protein in the form of collagen. It’s collagen that keeps your skin supple and elastic; hence, this is why collagen is a huge trend in the health and beauty industry. So, how exactly does this protein benefit your dermis?
Collagen’s Role in Skin Health
Collagen is multi-beneficial and equally benefits your joints, muscles and hair. This post, though, will focus primarily on the skin.
LEARN MORE: Collagen
Collagen is often described as the glue that holds your skin cells together. Your body produces the protein naturally, but production levels begin to decline with age. It’s estimated that once you reach your mid-20s to early 30s, collagen production decreases by about 1 percent every year. That means by the time you hit 50, you’re producing a quarter less collagen than you did in your 20s. This explains the wrinkles and clearly visible lines. As collagen levels decline, so does skin moisture.
Topical Collagen Supplements
If you use anti-aging creams, you may notice that most contain collagen as an active ingredient. The beauty industry isn’t dumb and is well aware that the populace will shell out big bucks to offset Father Time.
Here’s a secret the beauty industry doesn’t want you to know: Most of those collagen creams are useless.
With few exceptions, the collagen in most of those creams is ineffective because the molecules are too big for the epidermis (the outermost skin layer) to absorb. Natural collagen production takes place in the dermis and deeper layers.
What about collagen as a dietary supplement? Does that have any positive effects? Studies suggest ingestion may be far more beneficial. One study1 in female subjects showed that oral supplementation of collagen increased dermal matrix synthesis. In layman’s terms, it reduced the onset of wrinkles.
It may seem counterintuitive to ingest collagen instead of applying it topically. However, the reason ingestion is more effective is because oral administration allows the stomach acids and bile to break the collagen down into the smaller and more usable amino acids.
We must strongly emphasize, however, that not all collagen skin supplements are equally beneficial. For best bioavailability, always aim for hydrolyzed collagen. The hydrolization process already breaks down the collagen into its smaller amino acid components. This saves your stomach the gut-wrenching work (no pun intended) of breaking down protein, which is a labor-intensive process for the intestines.
The same goes if taking collagen for hair or joint health (also with joint pain). Whatever benefit you’re aiming for, you’ll get the best results with hydrolyzed collagen. All right, with some of the basics out of the way, let’s explore some of the scientifically verified benefits for the skin.
Collagen Reduces Cellulite
For many women, cellulite is also a major concern. But why does cellulite form in the first place? Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have a lot to do with fat gain, or at least not completely. It actually has more to do with collagen. Collagen deficiency in the thigh area causes the skin’s connective tissue to thin out. This causes the adipose tissue (fat) to poke through.
Collagen loss in the thighs can be due to a number of factors, such as genetics, recently giving birth and rapid back and forth fluctuations in weight. In any case, studies2 show that collagen skin supplements may help restore skin elasticity and reduce visible cellulite.
Collagen May Reduce Common Skin Conditions
Eczema and psoriasis are two common dermal ailments that cause the skin to become crusted. Itchiness and pus-producing blisters are also typical. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with any condition, you may commonly have acne breakouts, which continue well into adulthood.
So, how does collagen skin supplements factor into all of this? Remember, at the deeper molecular level, collagen is made up of amino acids, two of which are glycine and proline. These have been shown in studies3 to reduce skin inflammation, which in turn alleviates the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis.
Furthermore, collagen has long been sought after as a remedy for treating a number of digestive disorders, including stomach ulcers and leaky gut syndrome. Studies4 show that collagen provides a coating that protects the intestinal lining from inflammatory bowel disease.
That’s nice, but what does this have to do with collagen for skin? It has everything to do with it. Some doctors use the term gut-skin axis to describe the correlation between gut and skin health. Think of it this way: the skin is a reflection of what’s taking place inside your gut. Conditions like eczema may be a symptom of more serious and underlying issues occurring inside the stomach. The gut-skin axis isn’t just a theory. Studies5 have proven it to be true.
Seriously, if you constantly experience blisters, redness, itchiness or crusted skin, we highly advise seeing a doctor for a full-body exam. There may be something going on beneath the skin that’s dangerously out of balance.
Collagen for Hair
Your hair isn’t exactly a part of the skin, but the hair follicles do reside in the dermal layer just beneath the outer epidermis. It makes sense then that collagen also promotes smooth and silky hair. Like skin, hair is also made up of collagen protein. A study in Tokyo found a correlation between hair loss and decreased collagen production.
The lesson? If you want hair like you see in those shampoo commercials, you need more collagen.
Boost Skin Vitality with Total Collagen
As the numerous studies show, your skin is dependent on collagen. Total Collagen is hydrolyzed for the highest bioavailability. It’s also a rich source of type-1 collagen, which makes up the bulk of your skin (next to water). Total Collagen won’t turn a 50-year-old into a 20-year-old, but users just might look a bit younger than their actual age suggests.