This week, we are asking ourselves the question of collagen creams versus supplements – which one is better. To begin, let’s review what we already know about collagen. Collagen is an important protein in our body, first and foremost because it is the most abundant, found in our muscles, bones and most significantly for our beauty’s sake, skin. Skin is our largest organ and protects us from external detrimental health factors such as pollutants, bacteria and other toxins. You can think of collagen as the scaffold that provides the strength and structure not only within the body (muscles, bones and tendons) but also the elasticity and strength to our skin. But collagen is not only important for our skin and orthopaedics, it also helps protect other organs such as our kidneys and our entire cardiovascular system, for which collagen supplementation has additionally proven helpful. In fact, one of the ingredients in our product, L-lysine, is critical for the synthesis of collagen for reasons we have described in our ingredients page and a main reason why it has been included in our formulation.
However, as we age, our body’s ability to manufacture collagen begins to decrease, and this starts earlier than most of us would probably like to believe – around age 30. And that is the best-case scenario. Unfortunately, most of us may not lead perfect healthy lifestyles as much as we try. Sometimes life, family and work throw obstacles at us and things like excessive exposure to the damaging UV light from the sun causes free radical damage, damaging collagen, weakening the skin and leading to wrinkles, or that sweet tooth that leads to high blood sugar levels leading to glycation, where sugar molecules attach to collagen, leading it to stiffen and crack. All this points to how important collagen is to our general health and beauty, and how easily it can be damaged. And this leads back to our question, collagen creams versus supplements, which one is better?
To answer this, we can first look at this as a problem of dimensionality. Proteins like collagen, are very, very large molecules. And remember that one of the most important functions of our skin, particularly the outer layer called the epidermis, is to protect our bodies from toxic invaders. We are not saying that a collagen topical is a toxic invader, but it is a very large molecule that will have an extreme amount of difficulty penetrating this layer of skin to get where it can be the most helpful, simply because our skin is designed to keep larger, toxic molecular species away from our body. Collagen is most helpful and abundant in the layer of skin below the epidermis, call the dermis. Topically applied collagen will have difficulty reaching this layer. The topical application may act quite effectively as a moisturizer, so you may think it may be helping, and in this sense it is, but you could probably find a much cheaper moisturizer.
A way around this problem of dimensionality, however, is through the use of peptides. Peptides are molecules that contain far fewer amino acid chains than protein molecules and therefore being smaller than the collagen protein molecule itself will have somewhat more success at penetration through the skin. For a topical application you will want to use a product that has a longer retention time with your skin such as moisturizer or serum. A cleanser will be simply washed off. Complementing your topical collagen supplement, whether it is peptide based or not, with vitamin C (which is known to help boost collagen production) will provide added effectiveness.
Now let’s consider oral supplements, the cheapest of which could very well be from the bone broth recipe in our ebook or your favourite family chicken or beef stock recipe handed down to you. These will contain healthy quantities of collagen that our stomachs will digest and break down into smaller fragments – just like peptides – that can be distributed via the bloodstream everywhere throughout our body including the vital organs and the dermis skin layer where they can boost the needed collagen synthesis. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, this of course will not be suitable, and you should check your topical applications as well for their sources. This is all the more reason to ensure you have a healthy intake of vitamin C to help boost that collagen production that will need to come from other sources.
So what is the final verdict? If we keep in mind that collagen is much more than a protein that keeps skin appearance youthful, but also important for our general health and that of our vital organs, it makes the most sense to use supplements, synthetic or natural such as bone broth, to provide the building blocks for collagen synthesis from the inside of your body, and then add other components to your beauty regimen to support collagen synthesis such as vitamin C and lysine, and adding hyaluronic acid to boost skin moisturization.
This week we asked the question about collagen creams versus supplements – which one was better. After reminding ourselves that collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and its importance to not only the health and appearance of our skin, but to many of our vital organs, the answer really boiled down to a problem of skin penetration. Collagen by itself will find it near impossible to make it through to the dermis layer of skin through a topical application. A peptide formulation will have a better chance. But it makes more sense to deal with the problem from the inside out with a supplement or through diet, complementing it with healthy levels of vitamin C and lysine to help boost collagen production and hyaluronic acid to help maintain skin moisture.