There is this thing about collagen beauty products. They are everywhere, in every form available, such as oral supplements, face masks and creams. But do they really work? I’d hate to break your beauty bubble but most of them are just a farce. Let’s begin with the three layers of our skin.
The top most layer is the epidermis, followed by the dermis and finally the hypodermis. For collagen products to work, the collagen has to penetrate the epidermis to reach the dermis, where the skin’s natural collagen can be found. Now let’s take a look at collagen:
You may think of collagen as something like a DNA molecule but with an additional strand wound up in between the other two. So essentially, it’s three individual strands of proteins twirling around one another. In truth, the normal size of collagen is too large for it to enter the epidermis, so most of it actually just remains on the skin’s surface. Scientifically speaking, for a compound to pass through the surface of the skin, it’s molecular weight has got to be less than 500Da; a collagen monomer weighs at least 100kDa – more than twice that number. Any beneficial effect you observe from using topical collagen products, such as the diminishing of wrinkles and plumper skin, is due only to a placebo effect, or the elastin that’s also present in the product. If you find that your skin is more moisturised, it’s because collagen itself (and not your skin) is able to hold moisture well. This layer of collagen, which stays on the surface of your skin, gets washed away easily when you cleanse.
Where oral collagen supplements are concerned, we have to remind ourselves that our body contains this really powerful digestive organ that is the stomach. Again in actuality, our body digests any collagen that we consume, regardless of whether it is nano-sized or not, and so at the end of the day, none of that goes to our dermis to give us that youthful appearance we expect. (To take this further, I wonder if there exists currently the possibility of cage molecules protecting these collagen molecules as they travel down the digestive system all through till they reach the end of the cycle where they get deposited in the skin through the hypodermis. Perhaps this requires some Nobel recognition!)
So what can we do about it? Well, we can’t stop companies from selling their “collagen products.” However, we can stop buying them, for one. Switch to products and foods that contain a high amount of amino acids. This is because amino acids are naturally transformed in our body into proteins, which in turn are transformed again into collagen! Take multi-vitamin supplements and maintain a healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients. You are indeed what you eat, so take responsibility for that. Some good sources of amino acids are meat, eggs, soy, potatoes (my favourite) and dairy products.
To round up, it’s imperative to always keep in mind that ageing cannot be prevented, so lighten up and age with grace. It’s always better to focus on health than on never growing old.
Don’t fret it,