So I was intrigued by many of the products I have seen and their use of collagen. I ended up doing some extra research as I had doubts about their effectiveness. So lets break it down!
What is collagen and what is it supposed to do?
So pretty much collagen is an important protein (specifically an amino acid) that makes up a large part of our molecular breakdown. It’s found in fibrous tissue like the skin, tendons and ligaments but is also found in bones, blood vessels, our tummies and in our eyes (specifically the cornea). It is the protein that gives our skin its strength and elasticity and is also pretty darn important for strengthening our blood vessels. When collagen degrades, it causes wrinkles (among other skin issues) and because of this it has become pretty popular as an anti-aging supplement. So that’s the basic background but how can we get more into our bodies?
Introducing collagen into our bodies?
There is a lot of mixed information about this. Some sources say that it can be absorbed through your epidermis (skin), others say no. This person says it can if it is a smaller molecule, that person says that the small molecules are useless. It’s hard to figure out what to believe when there is so much conflicting information out there! So I went to my Universities library and pulled out some peer reviewed studies to find the answer! Google scholar is your friend! Type in a few smart sounding words like ‘Collagen Epidermal Absorption’ and BAM more papers than you will ever want to read, right at your finger tips. The hard part is sorting through and finding the relevant ones…
The basics of what I found are that collagen can be absorbed through your eyes (DO NOT PUT YOUR COSMETICS OR CREAMS OR TREATMENTS OR ANYTHING IN YOUR EYES! Just don’t…please), and through injections but that it doesn’t effectively absorb through the skin. The epidermis does a great job at keeping things out and in this case, it keeps the collagen from entering through the skin. Some cosmetics use soluble or hydrolyzed collagen, which are collagen molecules that have been broken down into smaller particles so that it is able to enter the skin. Although these particles are able to enter the skin, it is suggested that they are too small to be able to integrate with the collagen you have in your skin already. So pretty much, it’s absorbed but it can’t do anything! From what I found, pretty much the best way besides diet (eating the proteins needed to make collagen) to introduce collagen into your body is through injections. Ouch.
So what does this all mean?
So in summary, because apparently I like summaries, if you like a product that has collagen in it then keep using it but don’t buy a product solely because it claims to plump skin and improve elasticity through the use of collagen. You can do a quick google search (google scholar or normal google) and find many articles on how experts believe that those face products do nothing. In fact, here are some of the links I found by typing ‘Does collagen absorb through the skin’ into google:
For my Reddit friends and everyone else because Reddit has a lot of very educated people (and is just awesome in general), here are some posts related to the topic:
- Topical Collagen Has 2 moderators who know their stuff (one does research) comment!
- Types of moisturizers and how they work, so how you can keep younger looking skin without collagen injections!
- Other additives to look for that actually do something!
Oh, and apparently you can get collagen drinks and stuff…that might have to be its own separate post.