Collagen is a well-known skin care ingredient, but is it worth the hype? Since it’s really easy to become overwhelmed when searching for a new product, Ingredient Spotlight is here to break down the basics. Here we’ll teach you how an ingredient works and leave you with product recommendations to help you with your search.
When you think of collagen, you probably think of an ingredient that slows down the aging process and creates smooth, wrinkle-free skin. There are tons of serums and creams on the market which claim to combat wrinkles with the help of collagen. But in recent years, this ingredient has become increasingly controversial. So much research has been done to study the effectiveness of collagen, and the results are not what you expect. Keep reading to find out what exactly collagen is, and if it’s actually effective as a skin care ingredient.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a structural protein that is made up of long chain amino acids. You can think of it as the glue that keeps the body together. It is present in all areas of the body, but it exists most notably in the connective tissues. There are more than 20 different types of collagen, and they all play a different role in separate parts of the body. The one most relevant to our skin is type 7 collagen, which gives skin firmness and elasticity. Ultimately, collagen is what keeps our faces looking plump and youthful, but unfortunately, the amount we have starts to decrease as we age. This leads to a gradual loss of elasticity, which in turn makes wrinkles more visible.
What about collagen in skin care products?
I hate to burst the bubble, but collagen when applied topically doesn’t do what you might expect, which is to increase collagen production. The molecular weight of traditional collagen is too large to penetrate the skin. As a result, chemists have created a newer type of collagen known as hydrolyzed collagen. This type of collagen has essentially been broken down into tiny molecules to enhance barrier permeability. But note that there is no research yet demonstrating that these smaller molecules have an effect on collagen synthesis once they penetrate the skin.
Regardless, there’s no reason to ignore collagen completely, as it does have some positive qualities. When applied topically, collagen helps moisturize skin. It creates a filter-like effect that works to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps bind moisture to the skin and lock it in for lasting hydration. So, despite the fact that collagen isn’t the anti-aging superstar ingredient it’s been made out to be, it’s still a great moisturizer that will keep your skin happy and healthy. It’s also important to keep in mind that one of the most effective ways to prevent premature aging is to always keep your skin moisturized. As we age, our skin tends to get drier, leading to wrinkles that are more noticeable. But we can avoid this by keeping the skin properly hydrated at all times.
One of the first Korean skin care products I used was from the Etude House Moistfull Collagen line, and I was in love from the very first use. I have dry skin, so the addition of collagen in these products helped give my skin the much needed moisture boost. Etude House boasts a whole line of products infused with collagen, from eye creams to sleeping packs, but my two favorites are the Etude House Moistfull Collagen Cream and the facial toner. They’re formulated with hydrolyzed collagen to better penetrate the skin along with baobab water to deeply nourish skin and keep it hydrated for longer. The toner has the consistency of a refreshing gel, and it soothes and balances skin without leaving any greasy residue behind. The cream is also great for those who need lasting hydration, as it has been shown to keep skin moisturized for over 12 hours after application.
For some serious moisture boost, the Manefit Bling Bling Hydrogel in Soothing Aqua Collagen is the best choice. This mask contains a nourishing blend of hydrolyzed collagen, as well as seaweed and algae extracts. Plus, the hydrogel is cooling upon application, and the formula pumps moisture back into the skin in as little as 20 minutes. It’s the perfect treat after a long day.
Collagen isn’t the anti-aging miracle it’s been made out to be, but it’s still a beneficial skin care ingredient that moisturizes skin. Skin care research is always advancing at a rapid pace, and it’s likely that chemists might one day break down collagen enough to mimic its effectiveness and to (hopefully) increase collagen production. In the meantime, don’t waste your money on super expensive products that claim collagen is the answer. Instead, look for quality moisturizers with good ingredients that will hydrate the skin effectively. Also, keep in mind that there are good and bad sides to every ingredient, and ultimately, there are no miracle ones. It’s all about an effective and consistent skin care routine that will keep your skin healthy for longer.