Benefits of Collagen for Skin and Hair

Katie Wells Avatar

Reading Time: 4 minutes

This post contains affiliate links.

Read my affiliate policy.

Benefits of collagen for healthy skin
Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » Benefits of Collagen for Skin and Hair

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body and it makes up a large part of our skin, hair and nails. Technically a polypeptide, collagen contains a mixture of amino acids like proline and glycine, which are found in all connective tissue within the body (including vital organs!).

While beauty treatments and shampoos trumpet the benefits of collagen on their labels, the real benefits come internally, not from a topical treatment.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a long-chain amino acid and the most abundant protein in the body. It is composed of the individual amino acids Glycine, Proline, Hydroxyproline and Arginine and in nature is found exclusively in animal tissue, especially bones and connective tissue.

It is what is responsible for giving skin elasticity, hair its strength, and connective tissue its ability to hold everything in place. In fact, the collagen protein makes up 30% of the total protein in the body, and 70% of the protein in the skin!

The body’s natural collagen production declines with age and many modern lifestyle factors (like stress, poor diet, gut health imbalances, etc.) can also decrease the body’s ability to make it.

Gelatin vs. Collagen

These terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference.

Collagen is the basic form of the protein found in the body, and gelatin is produced when collagen is boiled or otherwise heated. The two have very similar compositions and are almost interchangeable, but the difference gets confusing when it comes to supplements. In general:

  • Collagen Powder- (the Hydrolyzed form of Gelatin) contains these proteins broken down into individual peptide chains. This form is typically easier to digest and is often suggested for people with digestive problems. One advantage to this particular form of collagen is that it easily mixes into most hot and cold drinks and is tasteless, making it easy to add to foods and drinks for consumption, however, it will not gel and is not good in recipes that require gelatin. In the brand I take, this form has a blue lid)
  • Gelatin Powder – I use a grass-fed pastured gelatin powder. Gelatin is the pure form that is often recommended on diets like GAPS and SCD (though some people may not be able to digest it at first and must stick to meat stocks instead), for its ability to coat the digestive tract. From a cooking perspective, it is the form that “gels” and is great for making recipes like chewable vitamins, gummies, and marshmallows. This is the form naturally found in bone broth, as the heat breaks down the natural collagen found in the bones. This is the reason bone broth tends to thicken and gel in the fridge.

In past generations, people often consumed much larger amounts of collagen/gelatin from food, as our grandparents and great-grandparents prepared many meals at home and made things like broths, gravies, and bone-in meats that naturally contained these amino acids.

Benefits of Collagen for Skin

While collagen is beneficial to the entire body, it is most noticeably beneficial to the skin. This is because as a person ages, the epidermic (outer layer of skin) thins and loses elasticity in a process known as elastosis. As this happens, a person tends to show more signs of aging and acquire more wrinkles.

The good news is that these changes do not seem to be permanent or irreversible. In fact, a double-blind placebo study conducted last year found that women who took collagen hydrolysate (the peptide form) regularly for 8 weeks saw a 20% reduction in wrinkles!

Even more exciting:

Additionally, after 8 weeks of intake a statistically significantly higher content of procollagen type I (65%) and elastin (18%) in the BCP-treated volunteers compared to the placebo-treated patients was detected.

This means that supplemental collagen appears to help the body’s own production process improve, as procollagen is the precursor to collagen in the body.

This study also showed that collagen consumption can increase skin elasticity and moisture, which also declines during the aging process.

It is important to note that this study used the hydrolyzed (peptide) form, which is a more easily digestible form of collagen. I’m not aware of any studies that directly compare gelatin and collagen for their ability to improve skin, so for skin health, I use the peptide form.

Other Benefits

Though not as immediately noticeable, there are other benefits that might be even more important. For instance, collagen has been studied for its role in:

  • Bone and Joint Health– Collagen may be beneficial to bones and joints in the same way it benefits the skin. By helping the body’s natural production of collagen and providing a bioavailable source of these amino acids, collagen may improve bone and joint health over time. In fact, a double-blind, placebo study showed significant improvement in joint pain.
  • Hormone Balance- Emerging research shows that the specific amino acids in collagen may help improve the amino acid balance in the body and support the body’s natural hormone production.
  • Digestion– As mentioned, gelatin and collagen may help coat the digestive tract and improve digestion, and the consumption of gelatin is often recommended on gut-specific diets like GAPS and SCD.

Where To Find Collagen

There are several good sources of high-quality gelatin and collagen powders. When sourcing, it is important to make sure that it is obtained from grass-fed and pastured humanely raised sources from a reputable company. I purchase this grass fed gelatin and this collagen powder because I was able to verify that their gelatin and collagen are:

  • Sourced from pasture-raised animals
  • Packaged in BPA-free containers

I also enjoy these collagen bars from Bulletproof to snack on.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Do you use collagen or gelatin? How do you use it?

Sources
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21582/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24401291/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18416885/
  • http://tracking.vitalproteins.com/aff_c?offer_id=8&aff_id=2542
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

158 responses to “Benefits of Collagen for Skin and Hair”

  1. Rebekah Avatar

    Hello, I was wondering if taking Vital Proteins collagen peptides was safe to take during pregnancy? Thanks!

  2. Chris Avatar

    From your advice, I’ve been using the blue powder form. Would you recommend mixing it up and trying the green top gel form? Or, using both as in mixing them? Thank you.

  3. Abby Avatar

    It is definitely safe for her. Collagen is very good for skin, hair, and nails; but very beneficial for gut health (which can play a roll in eczema) and for joints and getting good fats and amino acids. If she eats alot of sugars especially refined non-organic ones cut those out of her diet as well as food coloring. Also trying a homemade natural body butter (Katie Wells has great recipes) is good for the skin with the antibacterial and antimicrobial properties in organic unrefined cold pressed coconut oil as a large part of the butter base and tea tree and lavender essential oils. You will definitely want to research or find out how much tea tree oil to use, I believe. A smaller portion is recommended for younger children. But lavender is great! Alot of times eczema is not just a topical problem, it usually stems from internally first. Do diet is a major cure 🙂

  4. Heather Pomponi Avatar
    Heather Pomponi

    I use the Creighton model for NFP methods. Does supplementing with collagen have any effect on the quality or type of CM?

  5. Amanda Avatar

    Hi all!! I am interested in trying Vital Proteins for myself and my 4 year old daughter, who suffers from eczema on the folds of her elbows and knees. Is this safe for children and helpful for eczema?
    Any other tips to “cure” eczema would be appreciated!!
    Thank you!!! XOXOX

  6. Fiona Avatar

    Hi all!! I’ve just been diagnosed with ‘hypermobility syndrome’. Which means I’m tooooo bendy! (Apparently a cologen problem??) Does anyone know which product from this post would best for me? has anyone else faced something similar? Xx

  7. Carla Major Avatar
    Carla Major

    Victoria, I am looking forward to hearing how it works for you. I am also taking the collagen powder and DE, and would love to be able to stop with powder. I am using the marine collagen and it is very expensive, $49.00 for a 24 day supply!

  8. victoria Avatar
    victoria

    I just read many comments about collagen supplement powder GL and VP. I have taken both and still put VP 2 scoops per day in my smoothie. I used to eat a bowl of plain store bought gelatin (homemade, coconut milk instead of water) and noticed after a month that my nails and hair wore growing very fast and strong. I since then have added to my diet a couple of table spoons of DE (diatomaceous earth) also and had even more amazing results which makes me think that Silica has alot to do with the great benefit. I will stop taking the collagen powder since I assumed the bloating was do to Autoimmune Disease. I will continue with the DE and add a little more for deducting the amount in the collagen. I will let you know how it goes for me.

  9. Trina Avatar

    I am really interested in trying this, do you give it to your kids as well?

  10. Ana Avatar

    Hi – I wonder if anyone else has experienced pain, fatigue or other adverse symptoms from collagen? I have just switched brands (from Bulletproof to Vital Proteins) to see if this makes a difference. I’ve also tried reducing the dosage (from 1.5T/day to 1T) and the frequency (every other day instead of every day). This seems to have reduced the pain, but I have found that I’m tired for no apparent reason and have experienced some other unexplained symptoms. There have been no other significant changes in my diet, supplements or routine. Any advice would be appreciated. I am 48 and I started taking it as a preventative measure due to early onset of arthritis. Although it’s not bad, my mother suffered greatly from it for most the late part of her life.

  11. Dee Avatar

    I have been taking the collagen as well- I watch my weight religiously and my diet. Nothing changed except for the addition of collagen powder and I have gained 3 lbs in a week. While my skin looks good, it is not worth the weight gain to me. But for those of you who think your weight gain is from the collagen powder- YOU are NOT crazy! I just hope this goes away as quickly as it came

  12. jessica Avatar
    jessica

    Goodness, I’m so glad I read through all the comments on these posts. I’m *just* finishing up my GL collagen protein and had already purchased their green container of collagen because I remembered it was a good brand! Lesson learned, always recheck. I’ve been putting it in my smoothies in the mornings, so the gel kind never bothered me, it just helped make my smoothies thicker.
    Its interesting to note the problems some women have faced when using collagen. I’ve been having an increase in cystic acne and hormonal issues too and I would have never contributed it to the collagen! Just when I think I’m finally on track and doing something good for my body….This being healthy stuff is exhausting. I can’t go back to being unhealthy and eating/using junk, so what else is there to do but keep plugging along? Maybe I’ll see if I can return the GL collagen, or get my husband to use it.

  13. jj Avatar

    Not sure about the cytolitic vaginosis without more info, but I’ve read that douching with sodium bicarbonate twice a day for 2 weeks will restore the vaginal pH. Konjac root, or glucomannan, is a soluble fibre which holds more than 200 times its own weight in water, so you’ll have to drink a lot of water with this (it’s in the supplement PGX) or you’ll end up constipated. Perhaps going off all supplements for the moment and try a few full body detoxes for a while might be better for the stasis that’s happening? Just an idea 🙂

  14. Heather Avatar
    Heather

    Sooo…I have started taking collagen protein powder and am experiencing bloating as well. I have a very physical job which amps up in the spring (flower farmer) and while I feel my body starting to tone, I wake up and my rings are tight on my fingers. I actually read that collagen protein relieved inflammation! I am 45 and pescatarian for 31 years so I thought that it was just my body adjusting to consumption of a bovine product.
    It seems that every supplement I take to alleviate issues in my body just exacerbates them! So strange. I took konjac root too alleviate constipation and help with weight loss but instead I am more constipated then ever! I also started taking a women’s probiotic which caused cytolitic vaginosis…too much GOOD bacteria in my lady parts.
    Seriously. Every single thing I take has an OPPOSITE effect. I feel as though I’m living in an alternate universe over here!
    Thanks for listening…just wanted to share my story.

    1. Susan Avatar

      You are not alone. I was really hopeful that collagen would help me….and the bloating was so bad after 8 days I had to stop. I wondered if it was just the one brand, but now I am afraid to try any others. I take magnesium every evening and it has pretty much eliminated my constipation problems. I would love to try another collagen product if it would not cause the bloating.

      1. Carla Major Avatar
        Carla Major

        Susan, I returned the Vital Proteins collagen because I was also experiencing the bloating. I ordered the Vital Proteins Marine Collagen and have not experienced any bloating. I put it in my morning tea. I contacted Vital Proteins to ask why the large price difference (more cost for less amount) and they replied because it was a new product.

        1. Susan Avatar

          Carla, I will have to look into the Marine Collagen. I have an allergy to Crab and Grouper, so I am always cautious about anything with seafood/shell fish in it. Thanks for letting me know about that Collagen.

  15. Mahara Avatar
    Mahara

    If you’re really interested in keeping a youthful appearance and not lose so much collagen you already have, but diminishes as you age, wear sunscreen. 80% of skin aging and wrinkles is from skin damage,mostly due to UVA (AND those ones go through windows!). To avoid chemicals you can buy mineral facial sunscreens that go well under makeup!

  16. Andrea Avatar

    Thank you for this information. I am going to try the collagen peptide for my next macha tea latte, which I drink daily to get my collagen fix. This recipe is modified from Thrive Market’s cookbook, which I highly recommend. Blend in vitamix: I cup boiling water, 1 tsp matcha powder, splash of almond or other non-dairy milk, 1 tablespoon collagen powder, 1-2 tsp coconut oil, 1-2 pitted dates (optional). This is delicious when you want something other than bone broth!

  17. Carla Major Avatar
    Carla Major

    I have been taking Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides for 7 days and I am experiencing extreme bloating. I use one scoop per day in my morning tea. Anyone else having this experience, and any suggestions???

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I’ve never had that experience but if it is causing problems for you, I’d definitely reduce dose or stop taking until you can figure out why.

    2. Susan Avatar

      Carla, I had the same problem and had to stop using it after 8 days. Don’t know if there is anything I can take as a replacement. I don’t want to take a chance now as it was very uncomfortable, and also the weight gain did not make me happy.

      1. Carla Major Avatar
        Carla Major

        Thank you for your comment, Susan. I agree, the bloating is so uncomfortable. I am wondering if the marine collagen would be a good alternate source. Have you considered taking it?

        1. Susan Avatar

          Hi Carla,
          No, I was a bit worried that it would happen with another type of collagen. I am also allergic to Crab and Grouper, so I never know what type of things they use with it. Are you going to try the marine collagen? If you do, let me know how that goes. Thanks, Susan

    3. Teri Avatar

      I have been on collagen peptides for 15 days and experiences extreme bloating for the first 7-10 days. I looked 6 months pregnant. However, I now have a flatter stomach and have even lost 2 lbs. (which is a lot on my small frame)

      1. Susan Avatar

        Teri,
        Maybe I gave up too soon, but I was afraid to keep on going with it. After 8 days I could not fit into half of my pants I was so bloated and I was worried that it might get worse, so I stopped. I wish I could have kept on going and the bloating would go away. Maybe some others will post about the bloating. Thanks

        1. Erin Avatar

          I also found my way to this website by trying to research collagen supplements and bloating. I have been taking a neocell collagen powder since the end of March, and during that 3 week time, I have put on 7lbs! But it feels like extreme bloating and water weight in the manner it just started piling on. I had been trying to lose about 15lbs so I was watching carbs and taking classes at the gym and the weight had slowly been coming off. As part of my self-improvement kick, I started taking the collagen powder thinking it would help with my skin and cellulite. But now I’m thinking this weight gain on the scale may actually be bloating, and the collagen powder is the only thing I have changed in my diet. I’m going to stop taking it and pray the scale starts moving in the right direction again. It’s so upsetting after all my progress.

          1. Susan Avatar

            I slowly lost the weight or whatever it was. I can’t see how it would take a week or more to lose water weight, but that is what happened for me. But, I also cut back to help the process. Tried to do more low carb. I know how you feel after doing all that work to lose weight and then have a supplement add it back on. Give it a week or two and hopefully it will be gone.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Marine collagen is a great alternative for those who can’t consume beef proteins and has many of the same benefits, though it is also higher in calcium and has slightly less protein than the beef version.

  18. bri Avatar

    Which one would I use if I’m trying to tighten loose tummy skin after pregnancy?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *