Benefits of Collagen for Skin and Hair

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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?

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. 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.


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

  1. Pamela M. Brown Avatar
    Pamela M. Brown

    Great Content! Thanks for providing such amazing information for us. You are doing very well post more and more helpful information. Keep it up.

  2. Arthi Ashokraj Avatar
    Arthi Ashokraj

    Wow ! What an informative piece of information.
    I have a doubt, can I take type 1&3 collagen and type 2 collagen in the same day together? Does it harms our body if taken together? Please help.

  3. Sandra Avatar

    Hey Wellnessmama! First of all I’m a huge fan of yours and a long time follower – appreciate all your amazing advice 🙂 I have a question – I purchased Collagen last year through your suggested brand “Great Lakes” and absolutely loved it! I see that you now have an additional brand “Vital Protein” – can you share with me if you like this brand more and why? I’d like to purchase within the next few days, so your feedback would be greatly appreciated – trust your recommendations. 🙂

  4. Jen Avatar

    Thanks for the article and for the info from the study about collagen supplementation. Great to know. One thing I wanted to mention is that collagen is broken down more quickly by sun exposure. In the past few years I’ve read some alternative health sites talking about how sun screen isn’t that necessary (or at all) and we need vitamin D, from the sun etc. I never really knew the reason dermatologists were always stressing sun protection so much. Now I do and I wish I was more informed about this and didn’t just go out in the sun in my forties (and earlier) to get vitamin D. I didn’t see you mention it in the info about collagen loss. Dr. Dray on youtube is a very informative about skin issues. Just wanted to touch on this.

  5. Deb Tejada Avatar
    Deb Tejada

    Thanks for this post on the benefits of collagen. I’ve been using it for a few years now because I was having some problems with my joints. Not only are my joints back to normal (no pain, swelling, redness) but it also made my nails strong for the first time in my life. I backed off using it after my problems were remedied, but I need get back into the routine because there are so many other benefits. I swear by it. I have a friend who is having serious problems with her knees, and today I gifted her a tin of Great Lakes (green can). I just forwarded this post to her since she’d not heard of collagen before. Thanks for continuing to blog! I’ve followed your blog for years and everything you post out is valuable.

  6. Stephanie Easterling Avatar
    Stephanie Easterling

    Hi thank you for the explanations and differences. I use a liquid collagen that contains Collagen II, Hyaluronic Acid and Chondroitin sulfate. Drink 1 Tablespoon twice a day. I took for my knees and like you said about the benefits of the skin was shocked at my results. Love the liquid because it is easy for me to use!! Thanks again for the descriptions, they are helpful.

  7. shymaa Avatar

    can you please answer my question
    i have collagen powder and i want to take it with my diet. i wish you to tell me the correct dose .
    my age is 34

    1. Kathie Avatar

      Directions on the container. ZINT says 2 tablespoons per day. Great Lakes says 2 tablespoons twice a day. So I guess you will have to see what works for you. I have been using Great Lakes for 7 weeks now and take 2 tablespoons a day

  8. Monica Morfin Avatar
    Monica Morfin

    Hello. You changed the brand of collagen? Is it all about who pays more? Is Great Lakes still good brand?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      I’ve been personally using Vital Proteins for over 3 years as I was able to verify their sourcing, and when I reached out to Great Lakes about theirs they were very vague and could not give me verification of it.

  9. Jamie Avatar

    Would love to hear other’s thoughts on the VP blue lid vs green lid or the beauty booster (w HA)? I’ve been taking the blue lid for past 4 days and although it helps w muscle/joint pain, it aggravates my eczema and constipates/bloats me. Argh, can’t win! Do also love the collagen booster from the beauty chef but isn’t technically collagen. Thanks!

  10. golden Avatar

    Hello Wellness Mama! I have a sick problem, it is skin tags, I get them burned of, but know this is not the answer! Would the lack of collagen be my problem??? Please let me know! Thanks Golden

  11. Gretchen Rudloff Avatar
    Gretchen Rudloff

    I take Josh Axe’s multi collagen protein. It claims to have type 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10. I read that taking types 1 and 3 together is a no no due to absorption issues. Any insight on whether I am wasting my time taking this product would be greatly appreciated.

  12. Jordana Avatar

    Do you recommend taking this while pregnant or nursing? I have a 2 month old and lost much of my hair around 3 months postpartum with my first baby. Wondering if this would help me keep my hair 🙂

  13. Sarbajit Mukherjee Avatar
    Sarbajit Mukherjee

    what type of geletine use for hair roots spoil in a female face? Is it up rooted the unwanted hair fmom face completely forever.??? . plz. send note about broadly….. thank u

  14. Janice Avatar

    What do you think is the optimal amount of hydrolized collagen powder to take per day?

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