Few things are more shocking than aging.

One day, you might wake up in your forties and find that age snuck up on you. The physical effects may have you searching for a solution, and one of the solutions is “collagen.”

But what is collagen, and how can it help? Let’s dive into the facts.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most common protein in the human body and one of the core components of our skin. It’s found in bones, ligaments, tendons, nails, and hair, too. Saying that collagen is a “big deal” would be an understatement.

Collagen fibrils are made of three amino acids: glycine, hydroxyproline, and proline. When you combine them, collagen synthesis creates a mesh-like structure in the skin’s dermis. That structure keeps your complexion looking firm and healthy for years to come.

What are the functions of collagen in the skin?

Overall, collagen improves skin elasticity. Beyond these beautifying effects, it can:

  • Improves the strength, resilience, texture, and smoothness of your skin.

  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines.

  • Restores dead skin cells.

  • Improves connective tissues and cartilage. 

  • Encourages healing side effects to the skin, eyes, hair, nails, and teeth.

What is collagen used for outside of the body?

Some practical applications of collagen outside of the beauty industry include:

  • Glue making.

  • Strings for musical instruments.

  • Gelatin-based food ingredients or sausage casings.

  • Dressings for severe burns to help with skin regeneration.

  • Pain management for osteoarthritis. (A 2006 study pointed to collagen production efficacy in this area, but not all claims have been proven.) 

Beauty note: On the subject of unproven info: While beauty branding always advertises collagen-based creams, most products are ineffective. Collagen molecules are too large to reabsorb through the skin. Instead, the benefits of collagen creams come from their hydration properties.


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What are the different types of collagen?

The most common types of collagen found in the body are Type I, Type II, and Type III.

  • Type I collagen is located in your skin and connective tissues, like ligaments. This is the most abundant protein in the human body.

  • Type II is in your cartilage. 

  • Type III collagen is found in the skin, too. However, it can be located in your muscles and blood vessels, which are integral to infant development. 

What damages collagen production?

Unfortunately, collagen doesn’t last forever. Its production decreases with age, unless you prop it up with a little external support. You can make lifestyle choices that will prematurely age you, too. 

Activities and external factors that damage your collagen:

  • Environmental pollution.

  • UV rays or excessive sun exposure.

  • Smoking cigarettes. The nicotine attacks collagen fibrils, weakening them and making the skin sag.

  • A diet high in refined carbohydrates and processed sugars can interfere with collagen’s regenerative properties.

Autoimmune disorders can damage collagen production, too. Like the natural aging process, many autoimmune conditions are unavoidable, brought on by a cocktail of genetics. 


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What increases collagen production?

The good news is that you’ll find multiple ways to increase your collagen production instead of damaging it, from natural remedies to plastic surgery or oral collagen supplements

1. Improve your diet

Change your diet to include healthier foods, especially if those foods or meal prep plans contain the necessary ingredients for the building blocks of collagen. 

Foods you should eat:

On top of this, you can add collagen powder to your daily fruit smoothies. You’ll want to cut back on your alcohol intake, too, to optimze the health benefits of cleaner eating. 

2. Wear sunscreen

To protect your skin from harmful UV rays, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. UV rays can have a negative effect, but sunscreen masks your skin, keeping your collagen safer for longer while you’re outside. 

Other ways to protect your skin include wearing hats in sunlight or longer-sleeved shirts. Don’t overdo your daily exposure to the sun.

3. Use topical creams

Alongside these remedies, you can use retinoids or retinol. Creams or serums can stimulate collagen production, and their reputation as a skin product is well earned. If you’re using topical creams, always make sure to wear sunscreen, as an anti-aging product like retinol can make your complexion especially sensitive to UV damage. 


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Do collagen supplements work?

Yes and no. It depends on the brands you’re buying and how you ingest the product.

For example, oral products like powders and collagen peptides show promise. However, their effect isn’t focused solely on your skin. Instead, it’ll improve your collagen production by making you healthier overall, the same way a good breakfast in the morning can set you off on the right foot. 

Additionally, you can ingest collagen as a liquid, like bone broth, which is rich in this particular protein. However, more research is needed on the efficacy of liquid collagen supplements, especially against pre-existing health conditions. 

The bright side: If you’re simply looking to improve your daily habits or access healthier products, dietary supplements can be great. Your skin health is an important part of your health, but a diet packed with antioxidants is a great addition any skin care routine. 

What are the side effects of taking collagen?

Generally, collagen supplements are safe to take, although our big caveat here is that dietary aides don’t need FDA approval before they’re approved for sale. Always research your favorite brands ahead of time to see if they’re being truthful about their marketing.

Collagen can come from different sources, too, and you can be hit with unintended allergic reactions if you’re not careful. For example, a collagen powder made from eggs could be lethal to someone allergic. Always double-check the packaging. 


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What collagen supplements are the best?

Do we have some recommendations? You bet.

1. The Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Unflavored

Unmistakable in its sky blue bottle and no-nonsense packaging, this powdered supplement can be added to water, coffee, and smoothies. It’s designed to boost the vitality of your skin, hair, and nails. 

2. The Vital Proteins Performance Vanilla Protein Powder

This vanilla-flavored, lactose-free protein powder is similar to the previous peptide option. It’s perfect for promoting healthy bones and joints. 

3. The Vital Proteins Performance Chocolate Protein Powder

Is vanilla not your thing? Try this chocolate-flavored protein powder with its nine essential amino acids.

4. The Vital Proteins Collagen Gummies

We have to recommend these collagen gummies that support healthy hair, nails, skin, and joints — everything you need to keep yourself active and beautiful. 

Overall, the collagen benefits are straightforward: They boost your skin’s elasticity, help you feel healthier, and assist with joint pain. 

If you’re looking for other products that can keep you in good physical shape, check out the virtual aisles of Gopuff.