Does Collagen in Skincare Actually Work?
Do skincare products with collagen work? Can collagen molecules be absorbed into the skin? How can you stimulate your skin to produce more (and better quality) collagen? What are the ingredients to look for? Do collagen supplements and drinks work? More #SkincareScience with Maleka and Chris Smith, cosmetic scientist extraordinaire.
What does collagen do in the skin?
Collagen is the primary building block of our skin and the most prominent protein in the body. It gives our skin its structure and scaffolding, and it is present in all of our organs. The body produces its collagen. When we are younger, the body produces all the collagen it needs. As we age, the production of collagen slows down, and the quality of it deteriorates.
Does collagen in creams work?
In short, no. Or rather, not as some brands would like you to believe.
Our skin functions as a barrier, and it does a fantastic job of keeping out bad things like pollution and bacteria. For ingredients to penetrate the skin, they need to be 500 daltons and smaller. The collagen molecule is 3000 daltons. If you apply collagen to the skin, it works as a moisturiser, as it is a protein that sits on the surface of the skin. But even as a moisturiser, there are superior ingredients to serve that function.
The recent development is some brands break down the collagen into smaller size (so-called nano size) so that it can penetrate the skin. However, that doesn't mean once the collagen penetrates, it will bind with the normal-sized collagen.
Are there different types of collagen?
There are 16 different types of collagen. Over 80% of our skin is made out of Collagen Type 1, while Collagen Type 3 is the second most common at 15%.
Collagen Type 1 is what gives our skin its structure. Gram for gram, Collagen Type 1 is stronger than steel.
Chris compares it to a mattress. The shape and size come from Collagen Type 1. Elastin and Fibrillin work together to form elastic fibres and effectively function as springs in a mattress. They give the skin its bounce. On a side-note, some data suggest that deep wrinkles have lower levels of Collagen Type 4 and Type 7.
Ingredients to look for that boost collagen production
Peptides are the building blocks of collagen. Matrixyl is a prime example. Peptides are small enough to penetrate the skin and serve as a building block for collagen. Peptides perform intercellular communication, which means they tell the body to produce more collagen. As a result, our bodies produce more and better quality collagen.
Do all peptides stimulate collagen production?
No. There are various types of peptides, and to determine which one to include in your routine, look at the science and data behind it. Look for carefully engineered ingredients that boost intercellular communication.
Peptides like Matrixyl, Retinol, vitamin C, Hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and algae all stimulate collagen. Algae, in particular, are a great ingredient because they mimic the structure of our skin. It bears mentioning, ingesting seaweed has benefits for the skin since it is full of skin-beneficial nutrients. As already mentioned, peptides not only support the structure of collagen, they are also responsible for the better quality of collagen we do produce.
The same rules apply when we ingest collagen supplements. Since the supplement has to go through the digestive tract, the chances of collagen reaching the skin are less than zero.
The type of supplements to look for would have collagen peptides. These affect the skin, even after they pass through the digestive tract. Look at the data behind the product. While it is good to take supplements that increase collagen, a supplement that contains collagen isn't valuable. The data shows that some of the best supplements on the market include other skin-friendly ingredients like vitamin C.
Would liposomal collagen work?
Liposomes are a delivery system that works as a shell. You put the active ingredient in that shell, so it stays stable and potent for longer. However, liposomes only work for ingredients that are small enough to penetrate the skin. The collagen molecule is still too big.
What is the source of collagen in collagen drinks?
Most often, it is from a fish or an animal source. But there are no plant sources of collagen.
MERUMAYA® products to try:
Iconic Youth Serum™
Our number 1 bestseller for a reason, it is full of collagen boosting active ingredients.
Youth Preservation Moisturiser™SPF20
With Matrixyl and Sytenol (among other active ingredients).
Retinol Resurfacing Treatment™
With slow-releasing Retinol, Matrixyl, and two types of Hyaluronic acid.
Treatment Toner™ with Vitamin C
Features encapsulated and stabilised vitamin C together with Pheohydrane (Brown and Red algae)