Is Collagen Cream Worth the Money?
Collagen is a polypeptide made up of many amino acids. When applied topically to the skin, it is too large to penetrate into the dermal layers of the skin [see Figure 1] and therefore sits on the skin surface and have very little effect on collagen production.
Synthetic peptides however; are smaller in size and is able to penetrate the skin. These have been shown to increase collagen production when used twice daily for 6-8 weeks. These are commonly known as Oligopeptides. Therefore collagen creams containing oligopeptides are more effective - always check the label!
Oral collagen has been an extremely popular skincare supplement. When ingested, collagen is broken down into its various forms of amino acids and is delivered to different parts of the body. These areas include cartilage, bone, connective tissue and skin. Consequently, taking oral collagen has no direct effect on the skin alone. Studies have shown ingesting collagen can also have positive effects on improving arthritis pain, improved appearance of brittle hair and nails in the long term.
The sad news is, collagen supplements are derived from animal products and therefore are not vegan friendly. If you are looking for a vegan option, consider Collagen Boosters. These products contain plant extracts which "activate enzymatic pathways" required for the production of collagen. Amla extract is a commonly used "collagen booster". Although evidence is limited, it remains popular.
Author: Helen Lam, Pharmacist and Formulator