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The Best Collagen Supplement for Sagging Skin ----- Back

09.07.20 - Knowledge

The Best Collagen Supplement for Sagging Skin

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Words by Antoinette Barnardo

Collagen is a protein that maintains skin elasticity and smoothness. As you age, your body will produce less of this key component. One way to counter this decline is to use skincare products with ingredients that stimulate collagen production, such as retinol, vitamin C, and glycolic acid.

But what about collagen supplements? From powders to pills, there are numerous collagen-boosting supplements available on the market today that promise to tighten loose skin. However, not all supplements are created equal. Knowing the differences among collagen types will allow you to choose the best supplement for sagging skin.

In this article, we'll be taking an in-depth look at the types of collagen your body creates, the pros and cons of taking collagen supplements, and other ways you can promote collagen synthesis for a healthier, firmer complexion.

Types of Collagen in the Human Body

Collagen is the most abundant protein you have. In fact, your body produces 28 types of collagen. The majority of supplements available on the market focus on these collagen types:

  • Type I Collagen: Makes up roughly 90% of the collagen in your body and is found in skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
  • Type II Collagen: Promotes healthy joints by building up cartilage.
  • Type III Collagen: Supports muscles, organs, and arteries, and also found in the skin and bones in smaller amounts.
  • Type IV Collagen: A key component of the basement membrane, which is located between the epidermis (outermost layer of skin) and dermis (middle layer of skin).

Different Types of Collagen Supplements

Knowing which type of collagen supplement you need to help your skin is half of the process. You can consume collagen in one of the following ways:

  • Collagen powder: Made with hydrolyzed collagen, it's broken down into amino acids (collagen peptides) for easier absorption by the body. You can add collagen powder to your drinks or recipes. 
  • Collagen pills: Collagen supplements can be taken as a tablet or gel capsule that contains collagen powder.
  • Gummy collagen: These chewable supplements are almost like candy.
  • Liquid collagen: This is a pre-mixed drink that already contains hydrolyzed collagen.
  • Collagen protein bars: These supplements are meant for consumption after workouts to aid with joint health. They're not specifically meant for skin health.

Pros and Cons of Collagen Supplements

Taking a regular collagen supplement may benefit your skin, as well as other areas of your body. However, you should also be aware of potential side effects, drawbacks, and limitations.

Pros of Collagen Supplements

1. Ease of Use

Hydrolyzed collagen makes it possible for your body to take in what is otherwise known as a supermolecule. A standard collagen molecule is so large that it can't penetrate the skin or be easily broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. 

Collagen supplements, overall, are quite easy to ingest due to the various forms in which they come. For instance, you can take your supplement the old-fashioned way by swallowing a pill, or you can mix collagen peptides within your smoothie or juice.

2. Effectiveness Over Time

A 2019 review of 11 different studies shows that oral collagen supplementation can limit skin aging and promote wound healing. But don't count on these supplements to give you immediate results. Individual timelines will vary greatly, but you may notice a gradual change in your complexion after at least three months of daily use.

3. Can Be Blended With Other Vital Ingredients

Many collagen supplements — whether they're in pill, powder, or gummy form — also contain vitamin C, which promotes collagen production in the body. This will allow you to replenish lost collagen while also kickstarting your body's natural collagen synthesis. Other blends include collagen with hyaluronic acid, which aids in skin hydration.

Cons of Collagen Supplements

1. More Research Needed

Collagen found in supplements is typically extracted from animals. These include bovine collagen (from cows), porcine collagen (from pigs), and marine collagen (from fish). While there are studies regarding the effectiveness of ingesting collagen from outside sources, there is still plenty more to explore regarding the health benefits of animal collagen on humans.

Aside from that, collagen supplements — in particular, powders made with bovine collagen — may not be sourced from high-quality animal parts. Seek out formulas that extract collagen from grass-fed cows, which reduces your risk of consuming unnecessary antibiotics or hormones.

2. Collagen May Not Go Where You Want It

When you take a collagen supplement, your body ultimately decides where and how to put those amino acids back together, regardless of collagen type. Remember that type I collagen is found not only in your skin but also your bones and connective tissue. Your body could decide to send those building blocks to help strengthen your tendons instead of softening those fine lines around your eyes.

3. Potentially Restrictive Due to Diet or Allergies

Many collagen supplements on the market are sourced from animals, which doesn't make them suitable for a vegan to take. Meanwhile, anyone who is allergic to fish or shellfish will need to make sure they're not consuming marine collagen. 

To counter these issues, plant-based collagen-building supplements are becoming more commonplace. These usually contain elastin and biotin, which are ideal for maintaining healthy hair and skin.

How to Naturally Preserve and Boost Collagen

Taking a daily dietary supplement is not the only way you can boost collagen production. These are the best ways you can naturally promote collagen synthesis while preserving what you already have.

1. Mind Your Diet

What you eat can have an effect on your body's ability to form collagen. Foods high in sugar, for instance, can result in glycation, which inhibits collagen production — leading to sagging skin and other health problems.

Meanwhile, add more collagen-boosting nutrients to your diet, such as:

  • Vitamin C: A key player in collagen synthesis, you can find this antioxidant in oranges, kiwis, and berries.
  • Sulfur: This trace mineral is essential in collagen production and is found in asparagus, broccoli, soybeans, and eggs.
  • Zinc: Another mineral that's required for collagen synthesis, you can find it in oysters, lobster, and chickpeas.
  • Lycopene: An antioxidant that protects the skin while boosting collagen, it's found in tomatoes, red peppers, and beets.

You might be wondering about bone broth, which is touted as a rich source of collagen and other essential nutrients. Contrary to popular belief, there is no scientific proof that bone broth alone will make your skin smooth, alleviate your joint pain, help you lose weight, or boost your immune system. However, you can make bone broth more substantial by fortifying it with vegetables and legumes that are rich in nutrients.

2. Protect Yourself From the Sun

UV rays can accelerate the aging process by damaging existing collagen and promoting the growth of abnormal elastin fibers, leading to wrinkled, sagging skin. Reduce your risk of sun damage by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV lenses.

Also, limit your sun exposure as much as you can. Try not to go outside during peak sunlight hours unless it's absolutely necessary.

3. Massage Your Skin

A 2018 study from the Tokyo Institute of Technology discovered that 10 minutes of facial massage with a roller can increase blood flow and widen blood vessels, creating an optimal environment in which collagen can be formed. Not to mention, regular facial massage with an oscillating device and a firming cream can also aid in skin tightening.

4. Don't Smoke

A 2007 study from the Journal of Dermatological Medicine says that "tobacco smoke extract impairs the production of collagen" and also degrades existing collagen and elastin fibers. The result is fine lines and wrinkles, especially around your lips ("smoker's lips"). If you currently smoke or vape, work with your doctor to create an effective plan for quitting, and ask your loved ones to hold you accountable.

The Best Way to Utilize Collagen for Firm, Healthy Skin

Supplements are an easy way to increase your collagen intake. However, more research is needed to determine how effective animal-based collagen is on the human body. Also, consider that your body may distribute the collagen in other areas of your body and not your skin — which isn't necessarily a setback as your bones, tissues, and organs will reap the health benefits. But if your primary goal is to improve your skin, it may not yield the results you seek.

The best collagen supplements for firming sagging skin don't contain collagen alone — they also work to promote collagen synthesis. If you're keen on using a daily supplement, look for one that includes collagen boosters such as vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. This way, you'll not only be adding outside collagen that may (or may not) smooth your skin, but also stimulating your body's natural collagen production system.

However, supplements aren't the only way you can increase collagen levels. A diet rich in collagen-boosting foods will not only be beneficial for your complexion but your overall health and well-being. Meanwhile, regular skin massage can tighten loose skin while increasing blood flow, making it easier for your body to form more collagen.

Following good habits such as reduced sun exposure and not smoking cigarettes will allow you to preserve existing collagen and slow the signs of aging. These lifestyle choices can work in harmony with curating an effective anti-aging skincare routine.

Remember to speak with a healthcare professional or dermatologist before starting any new supplements, diet plans, or skincare regimens.

Words by Antoinette Barnardo

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