There’s been a lot of talk around the importance of collagen in beauty circles for the last few years, and rightly so. When it comes to youthful and radiant skin, collagen is the secret behind it all. But as we grow older, the body finds it harder to produce collagen, which prompts a loss of elasticity, firmness and radiance. Top dermatologist and founder of ISAAC Luxe, Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta put an answer to the question — What is collagen? “Collagen is a protein that gives our skin elasticity and firmness. However, as we age, our collagen levels fall, affecting the look and feel of our skin, which eventually wrinkles and sags.”
However, the benefits of collagen aren’t just limited to your skin. Dr. Kiran Sethi, Dermatologist and Founder, Isya pointed out that “… it is the most prominent protein in your body and is found in your skin, muscles, and bones. It holds your body together and keeps it strong, making sure your structure is intact.”
So as you age, it is only right to think about some extra TLC for you skin, and that’s when many of us consider collagen supplements. But are they worth it?
When asked about collagen supplements Dr Rashmi Shetty, Dermatologist and Owner, Ra Aesthetics & Dermatology, shared, “Collagen supplement is a good idea, but it’s a myth if you’re thinking that by eating collagen. the same collagen is absorbed in the skin, that’s not how it works.”
How does collagen work?
Explaining the process of how collagen works, Dr Rashmi Shetty said, “Collagen is a protein made up of small bits of amino acids. There are specific amino acids that come together to become a chain and make collagen. What collagen supplements usually do is give you the amino acids which you require. This then gets absorbed and reaches the skin for the skin to be able to make its own collagen.” Hence the use of additional collagen supplements is always beneficial for results.
Who should use collagen and at what age?
So then, what is the right time to start using collagen? Thirty is the recommended age to start including collagen in your beauty regime. “Starting collagen supplements between the ages of 20 and 30 is generally a smart idea. Around the age of 30, the body’s natural collagen production begins to decline, although there may be advantages to getting a head start on improving the body’s collagen condition. However, because collagen production slows with age, it’s never too early to start caring for your skin,” said Dr Geetika. “Collagen supplementation is a preventative measure, this means it works best before deep wrinkles and severe sagging appear (or progress).”
Can you manage the collagen requirement through your diet?
What you eat shows on your face, and that’s a fact. So when it comes to skincare and that coveted glow, nutrition plays a significant role. “Nutrition is still the most essential component in collagen formation. The body must first break down dietary protein into amino acids in order to obtain the components it requires. Amino acids are the building blocks for all of the body’s proteins, including collagen,” said Dr Geetika. While seafood, leafy greens, eggs, berries, pumpkin seeds, and other foods can supply the ingredients needed to make collagen, many people do not get enough of them in their diet, so supplements are a good option for those who want to boost their collagen intake further, according to her.
But the question remains, what signs indicate that we need col lagen? Dr Kiran is of the opinion that once you start noticing signs of ageing crop up on your skin with weaker hair and nails, a daily collagen supplement should be added to your beauty routine. Over time, consuming collagen increases your cell turnover rate, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, makes your skin appear younger, and has a positive impact on the quality of hair and nails, she further comments.
Different forms of collagen
Collagen supplements fall into two major categories, marine and bovine. Today there is also, a plant-based form that has proven to be the most potent. Collagen can be consumed in a powder, liquid or tablet form. Speaking about her preferred choice of collagen Dr. Rashmi shared, “In India, most of the collagen sources are marine based. Powder and liquid both smell a lot and have a strong taste because they are animal-derived. So to mask that there are a lot of sugars and additives which are used that may add on unnecessary calories, as well as sweeteners that you don’t want to consume. When you eat excessive sugar, collagen hardens, and then that breaks the collagen.” What she then suggests is using collagen in the tablet form procured from a well-known company that is backed by an expert.
However, Dr Kiran prefers liquid and powder forms. She is of the opinion that they are the most effective of the three in improving existing collagen levels and aiding better future production.
* Before trying any supplements we highly recommend consulting a dermatologist.
How to use a collagen supplement
If you wish to use collagen supplements, ensure they are of high quality. Look for hydrolysed collagen, which has been broken down into smaller, easier to absorb and utilise molecules. Avoid items that contain unneeded filler ingredients as well as artificial flavours or sweeteners.” Collagen that has been hydrolyzed has been broken into little peptides that the body can absorb easily,” added Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta. She further added, “When collagen is combined with vitamin C, the body has the best chance of getting the most out of it. Because collagen synthesis requires vitamin C, it will improve the bioavailability of the collagen supplement.”
Dr Rashmi Shetty shared two major reasons we consume collagen, “One, so that we give the amino acids to the existing collagen or for the body to make more collagen. Two, collagen holds water and makes the skin feel youthful. So to hydrate, along with just collagen we have to also add hyaluronate, lutein, and zeaxanthin all of which hold water back into the skin and make the skin youthful and plump.”
Here’s a round-up of a few collagens available in India