Do a quick search for "drinkable collagen" on Amazon and more than 300 results materialize. Many products feature not only confident seller claims that they can improve skin elasticity and firmness but also enticing reviews from people confirming, as far as they can tell, that their collagen supplements did exactly that. The powders and liquids seem like a tempting, easy, and sometimes even tasty way to enhance your skin-care routine's results. But is better skin really possible via sprinkling some seemingly magical collagen fairy dust into your coffee?
In theory, the thought of tossing back a collagen drink for healthier, firmer, more resilient skin sounds worthy of writing home about — not to mention worthy of your hard-earned money. And there's no doubt, collagen does have its benefits. But it begs the all-too-obvious question: Does drinking collagen or taking it as an oral supplement (like a collagen pill) actually work to improve your skin? And if so, what does collagen actually do for your face? Allure consulted experts to get to the bottom of ingesting collagen before you say "bottoms up" to a glass of the stuff.
Meet the Experts
- Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic & clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
- Yoon-Soo Cindy Bae, M.D. a board-certified dermatologist at Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University in New York City.
- Keri Gans, a registered dietician and nutritionist in New York City.
What is collagen and what does it have to do with skin?
"Collagen is the main structural protein in our skin," says New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. He likens collagen to a mattress frame because, without it, the skin starts to break down — like a mattress without a frame would — resulting in fine lines and sagging.
This process is inevitable as we age because the collagen in our bodies decreases the older we get, thanks in part to environmental factors, such as sun exposure and pollution. In addition to our skin, New York-based board-certified dermatologist Yoon-Soo Cindy Bae, M.D., says that collagen is found all throughout the body, although she explains that there are several different types such as I, III, IV, and VII, that are located in the skin itself.