The latest beauty fix is collagen — but it’s consumed in the form of a drink!
Purva Indulkar tells you whether you should get on board with the new beauty trend
Move over charcoal pills, there’s a new kid on the block. Collagen drinks and applications have been selling like hot cakes and as usual, we’re sniffing around to see how effective the latest trend is. Collagen products that are available in the form of liquid drinks or powders claim to restore flawless skin tones, keeping your skin soft and supple. But, what exactly is collagen? “Collagen is a natural protein (also present in skin tissue) that works as a scaffold for the formation of tissues, organs and the body in general. About 35% of the protein that makes up your body is collagen. It is also found in your muscles, bones and other organs, and is an important component of the skin, giving it strength, elasticity and structure,” says Dr. Mohan Thomas, a senior cosmetic surgeon at Breach Candy Hospital & Cosmetic Surgery Institute.
Wondering whether all the hype about this new beauty fix makes sense? Dr. Mohan explains, “Collagen is continuously being produced and destroyed in the body, so there is an equilibrium present when you are young. However, as you grow older, your body’s ability to produce collagen reduces by about 1% a year.”
- What collagen companies say Collagen supplements claim to reverse this trend, reducing skin ageing, eliminating wrinkles, plumping and tightening the skin, and improving skin elasticity in the process. The manufacturers of these products claim that the breakdown of this collagen in the intestine as well as its absorption, stimulate the body to produce more collagen. They claim that the presence of collagen degradation components in your bloodstream tricks your body into thinking that it is being broken down, leading to it being replaced by new collagen.
- The real deal The protein (and collagen) that you consume is broken down into individual amino acids in your intestine, which are then absorbed by your body. It is not possible for the body to recognise their origin, since they are also present in food such as meat, fish, milk and legumes. The absorbed amino acids are then distributed to form proteins depending on what your body needs. In a broad sense, consuming collagen may not be very helpful. Similarly, applying collagen on your skin doesn’t have much of an effect because it is a large molecule that does not penetrate the skin. The only way collagen can be produced in the body is through the stimulation by lasers or radio frequency pulses of energy, derma rollers or by the injection of fillers.
Collagen: The origins
Dr. Apratim Goel, a dermatologist and laser surgeon at Cutis Skin Studio, explains how the trend began. She says, “Originating in Asia, liquid collagen first showed up in 2012. However, it has gained popularity over the past two years and is now available in the form of powders or liquid drinks. Three main types of collagen found in supplements are extracted from bovine (cow), porcine (pig) and marine (fish) sources. Fish collagen is the most popular and flavours are added to it to make it more palatable.”
Benefits of collagen
Dr. Geeta Oberoi, dermatologist and founder of Skin and You Clinic, tells us about the benefits of collagen.
- It improves skin texture and makes your skin firmer.
- It reduces the appearance of cellulite and wrinkles.
- It improves blood circulation.
- It increases hair growth.
Dr. Satish Bhatia, MD (dermatology and skin surgery) at the Indian Cancer Society, and Dr. Mallika Dembla, a consulting dermatologist and cosmetologist at Axis Hospital, tell us that research is leaning towards the positives of drinking collagen. They explain, “Multiple small-scale trials have been conducted over the past five or six years, indicating the positive benefits of collagen supplements on the skin with minimal side effects. They should only be taken after a skin evaluation and a consultation with a dermatologist.” However, they also suggest picking a drink that suits the way you live your life, because you’ll have to incorporate these drinks in your diet. To that effect, they add, “You should choose a drink that fits your lifestyle, which your dermatologist will be able to advise you about. Also, pay close attention to the ingredients because some products may not be suitable for vegetarians as they are made from fish. You should also consume fruits such as avocados and green vegetables such as spinach, which help your body produce collagen. Finally, make sure that you’re getting the right dose (usually 0.2-1g/kg) and the right type of collagen — type 1 is usually the best. Also, a few studies suggest taking collagen with added antioxidants, minerals and hyaluronic acid, which help skin texture and elasticity.”
Words of wisdom
Dr. Smita Mahimkar, a cosmetologist from Skin and You clinic has some advice for those who are leaning towards the new collagen drinking trend.
- Animals and fish are natural sources of collagen.
- Take vitamin C orally, it will help to increase the effectiveness of collagen supplements.
- Antioxidants such as glutathione can help your skin get a natural glow.
- If you’re getting collagen injections instead of drinking it, make sure that you get them administered by a professional.