Main content

Can collagen drinks make my skin look younger?

Can collagen drinks make my skin look younger?

British people spend over one billion pounds every year trying to hide – or prevent – one of the inevitable side-effects of the aging process: the deterioration of our skin.

Traditional moisturising treatments work by using a chemical known as a ‘humectant’ – often glycerin – to bind water into your skin cells. But whilst this keeps your skin hydrated, it does not counter the fundamental process of aging – the loss of collagen.

Collagen is the protein that gives our skin its structure. But as we leave our teenage years our bodies produce less and less of it – a decline of roughly 1% a year. This gradually weakens the structure of the skin leading to sagging and wrinkles.

It’s perhaps not surprising then that one of the most popular new treatments are drinks which claim to contain collagen. The idea is that if our bodies are no longer producing this protein then we can ingest it and rescue our skin.

But does the science behind this idea stack up? There are too few studies to say conclusively whether ingesting collagen in liquid form will temper the effects of aging on skin. In the absence of evidence that it works, the Advertising Standards Authority has banned advertising which directly links the consumption of collagen to improved skin health.

One of the reasons to be skeptical is the issue of “bio-availability” – the ability of collagen to migrate through all the acids of our guts and stomach, to avoid being destroyed and digested, and somehow find its way to our skin via the blood stream.

So if the jury is out on collagen drinks, how can we hold off the aging of our skin? One way is through our diet. Foods which are high in Vitamin C are believed to stimulate the production of collagen – so do eat plenty of fruits, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. And activities which are known to inhibit the production of collagen, such as smoking and excessive exposure to sunlight, are best avoided.

Ultimately, the body’s aging process is a biological inevitability, and wrinkly skin is part of this process. And whilst there is no magic cure to aging skin, a healthy diet and sensible exposure to sunlight will help in holding off the worst effects of time.