Let’s talk about collagen. Like most wellness obsessives, I have had a taste of the Kool-Aide and there is no turning back. Supplementing with collagen promises prettier skin, stronger nails, the end of creaking joints and is really good for gut health (another vital component to a better complexion). It also contains about 20g of protein per serving. So yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.
What is collagen and why is it important? Collagen is a simple protein found in skin and the body’s connective tissue. It is also the most abundant protein in our bodies, gives our skin elasticity and plays an important role in keeping joints young. The not-so-great news is that our collagen production starts to slow down at age 20, and steadily decreases every year after that.
Fortunately, skincare and supplement companies have cottoned onto the growing interest in collagen supplementation and have developed some really great products that are worth their weight in skincare gold. After doing lots of research, I decided to try out both bovine and marine collagen.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Winter, co-founder of San Diego’s Alcheme health and medical spa, “It is good to mix it up when taking bovine and marine collagen. Like anything your body can become accustomed to it, but there are advantages to each. There are only a few really good brands of collagen on the market, but I would say play around with those and see how your body responds.”
And that is exactly what I did. In all three instances, I used each product for four weeks. Here is what I found.
This is perhaps the most recognizable of the collagen brands, and it is easily available online and at retailers like Whole Foods or the functional health clinic Alcheme (located in San Diego’s Little Italy). Like the other collagen powder I tried, Vital Proteins is both tasteless and odorless. I mixed into my morning coffee and it was barely noticeable. If anything it made it a little creamier. Much to my surprise and delight, it mixes easily into the liquid without clumping.
The morning after I first tried it, I rushed to the mirror and lo and behold, I was 18 again. I’m lying; I wasn’t 18, I didn’t even look 18. But I swear my skin did look slightly plumper. I found it quite difficult to get the two scoops in a day (one in the morning and one at night) — and the the collagen was making my nails grow so quickly that I felt like I was sprouting talons. I cut back to one scoop. However, with a single scoop, my nails were still growing at a healthy speed and joints were noticeably less creaky in yoga class.
Overall, I was impressed with the results and thrilled to have effortlessly added more protein to my diet. By the time I finished the little tub (about three weeks), my skin had more of a glow and the fine lines around my eyes were less noticeable. But it wasn’t life changing. It could have been my fault though — I probably should have stuck with the two-scoop-a-day rule. Looking back, a scoop and a half probably would have done the trick. Would I recommend it? Yes. Will I buy it again? Yes.
Of the three different brands I tested, Skinade is hands down my favorite. There is no mixing, no trying to cloud my mind about consuming anything with the word “bovine” on it, and the peach and mangosteen flavor is delicious. The lazy girl in me loves to grab and go, and the single-serving bottles do the trick.
With this one, I wanted to mix it up so I decided to start taking my collagen in the evening before bed in an effort to see if it made any difference. (Side note: I combine this with twice a week nighttime enzyme peels and load up on vitamin C/topical collagen products with great results.) It took about two weeks, but I soon found my skin looked presentable enough to skip the pre-yoga concealor/bronzer routine. Score!
This is the only marine collagen product I tested out, and while I didn’t notice a huge difference between this one and bovine collagen, it is rumored to have more an affect on the skin than bovine (bovine collagen is said to be better for joints). It also contains vitamin C, a B complex and omegas 3 and 6. And because it is a liquid, it is highly absorbable by the body (as opposed to a less absorbable pill or capsule). Five stars.
Reserveage Nutrition: Collagen Replenish Powder
This is another brand that is easily accessible on websites like Amazon and health stores. I was drawn to this brand because it contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, two more ingredients that are incredibly important for healthy, youthful skin.
When I opened the tub, I was delighted to find that the scoop was much smaller — like a quarter of the size of the Vital Proteins one. The directions said to mix it into room temperature water — so my go-to ritual of mixing it into my coffee was suddenly out the door. I also found that unless I mixed it exactly right, the collagen had a tendency to get clumpy (gross). After many a trial and error, I found putting it into a shaker bottle with water and ice had the best effect.
I had great results with this one as well. My ankles and elbows stopped cracking all together. My skin was plump. The occasional clumpiness was still throwing a bit of wrench in the works though. Fortuitously, I was out shopping one day and came across the same collagen in swallowable capsules, so I decided to try these as well.
Like I mentioned previously, taking collagen in this form isn’t as easily absorbed by the body, but it did provide a great solution to getting more collagen into my diet (herein lies the solution to the one-and-half-scoops-a-day dilemma). I ended up mixing these in with the both the powdered collagen as well as the other two brands I tried with visible results. Still, would I buy these again? Yes. I think the addition of hyaluronic acid and vitamin C make a big difference.
Have you ever tried collagen? Which brands do you prefer? Tell us in the comments below!