Collagen might be a very good, if expensive, “humectant” (skincare ad-speak for moisturiser) but don’t believe any claims that it can improve skin collagen levels.
The collagen molecule is too large to penetrate the skin so if you buy skin-creams where collagen is claimed as the key ingredient, you’re really getting an overly expensive moisturiser.
“There are a lot of serums and creams on the market that say they do a lot of things and it’s just marketing” says New York skin specialist Dr Amy Wechsler. “There might be some collagen products that are good moisturisers. And if your skin is well-moisturised, it’s going to look great—it’s going to be healthier, look younger—but it’s not because you absorb the collagen.”
Collagen is a feature of healthy young skin but it starts to diminish in humans at about 18 years old.
It doesn’t matter where the collagen is derived from, you cannot replace skin collagen by eating collagen-containing products, rubbing them in as a cream or putting drops on your tongue; and the side effects from collagen injections which were of dubious effectiveness anyway mean they are no longer on the market.
While collagen is great for youthful looking skin, the secret of maintaining collagen levels is to preserve it:
- Get enough sleep;
- Don’t smoke or expose yourself to secondhand smoke;
- Wear a sunscreen and be really conscious about sun exposure;
- Keep your stress level—or cortisol—down as much as possible.
Preserving collagen is more about avoiding a junk lifestyle rather than believing junk claims about products.