In the aesthetics industry, collagen is a big buzzword. Recently, there has been an increasing number of people suggesting that consuming collagen in the form of supplements will leave you with youthful skin. Noting some preliminary studies that have been done, many individuals have jumped on the train, proclaiming that consuming collagen is the key to unlocking young, plump and wrinkle-free skin. Everywhere you turn the fountain of youth seems to have been bottled and collagen is listed as its main ingredient. 

Yes, collagen is an important component of the skin, helping to maintain its structure and elasticity; and as we age we do tend to produce less collagen. The suggestion of intaking collagen in the diet to help replenish what is lost in our skin seems like a plausible solution, however, our bodies are quite complex and this seemingly quick-fix is a bit too simple.

“Why do you say that?”

Let’s look at the actual molecule: collagen is a protein, which are relatively large molecules. Eating or drinking collagen will introduce that protein to your digestive system. Such large molecules are not easily absorbed by your body, so elements of your digestive system such as your stomach and small intestine use enzymes to break down proteins into smaller pieces. Once broken down into smaller fragments, your body treats them the same as any other protein fragment in your stomach – whether it came from your collagen supplement or your breakfast. Once absorbed, you don’t have much control over where those pieces will go and be used; the chance that all of the consumed collagen will go directly to the dermis, and not be used for other purposes elsewhere in the body, is very slim.

“But there is science that shows it works!” 

It is true, some studies have been successful in showing that taking collagen supplements over a long period of time may be associated with improved skin elasticity. Unfortunately, any scientific evidence that has been presented is quite preliminary and can not yet be taken as fact.

Some problems with the current research? Many of the studies involve too few people in order for their results to be determined clinically significant (this is fancy jargon for saying that there weren’t enough people in the studies to support the belief that consuming collagen is actually effective as a treatment in the real world outside of that specific study). Even if improvement was observed, a cause and effect relationship between consuming collagen and improved skin cannot be established by many of these studies because there are too many other factors like diet, lifestyle, etc. that could be influencing the results. Further, many of the current existing studies are funded by companies currently making ingestible collagen products, opening the possibility for biases and inaccuracies in the findings.*

What’s my point here? Just because someone claims that something is backed by ~science~ does not necessarily mean that the evidence holds any validity or truth. Unfortunately our industry is challenged by easy spread of misinformation with celebrities and influencers claiming to be experts and reaching many people. The explosion of consumable collagen products claiming to offer skin benefit is just another example of this. Is there any harm in consuming collagen? Likely not! And it is possible that skin benefits are there, the science just doesn’t back the claim very strongly yet.

*Pérez-Sánchez, A., Barrajón-Catalán, E., Herranz-López, M., & Micol, V. (2018, March 24). Nutraceuticals for skin care: A comprehensive review of human clinical studies. Retrieved February 10, 2021, from

Nadine Sabino, BScN