Does Collagen really work?

You’ve seen collagen practically everywhere but what does it actually do for your skin? Does it really work or is it just another failed cosmetics concept? Several products work theoretically but do not deliver when it comes to actual human trials; this article will tell you if that is the case with collagen.

What is it? Collagen is a fibrous protein that plays a very important role in various structures of the human body. There are several types in the human body and more or less they provide integrity to structures such as the skin, bone, tendon, cartilage, hair, placenta, etc.

What do you use it for? Collagen, as a food ingredient has a texturizing effect while as a cosmetic ingredient, it has a moisturizing effect on the skin. It is also known to make the skin firmer, treat aging signs such as wrinkles and skin sagging. Collagen is now seen in almost every cosmetics brand from America to Asia. It is available as an eye cream, night cream, serum, facial foam, mask, and filler.

How does it work? Native collagen, though present in several cosmetic products, is absorbed poorly by the skin. To be specific, it is absorbed by the epidermis but not by the dermis. Its function, therefore, is not dependent on its internalization; rather, it keeps the skin (stratum corneum) moisturized by attracting water towards it. According to a double-blind, random control trial, it also prevents wrinkles and boosts proliferation of fibroblasts.

Forms of collagen in cosmetic products? There are several forms of collagen used in cosmetics today. The more common ones are hydrolysate and gelatin. Hydrolyzed collagen is made from enzymatic hydrolysis of native collagen, followed by a warm water extraction which yields a more soluble form of collagen. Hydrolyzed collagen is also available in tablets, capsules, and even several foods like yogurts, dairy drink, soups, high protein bars and candies. On the other hand, when collagen is irreversibly denatured, its strands separate into coils and this is what is referred to as gelatin. The role of gelatin in cosmetics is almost similar to hydrolyzed collagen—with its lowered molecular weight, it can be better absorbed by the skin and hair.

In East Asia, collagen is added to enhance cosmetic products; for example, Han Skin’s Snail facial foam (a Korean brand) which has snail mucin also contains collagen and elastin. However, it is better to use cream or serum form instead of facial washes or foams; that way the product will stay longer on your skin and allow absorption.

Collagen works wonders and its functions are not just limited to what I mentioned above. So be sure to try out collagen products for younger looking skin!



Chinese Journal of Aesthetic Medicine, 2008

International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2005

Wellness Foods Europe, November 2006


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