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There are a lot of things that come with getting older—you gain confidence with age, for instance, and stop sweating all of the small stuff. Your skin may also start to look a little bit different, namely an uptick in fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, and even dullness due to decreased collagen production.
“Collagen is a family of proteins and the most abundant in our bodies,” explains dermatologist Dr. Marie Hayag. “It is also the main component of connective tissues throughout our body such as skin, bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments.”
The more abundant the collagen, the healthier and stronger your skin looks and acts, notes Hayag—but collagen production in the skin slows down significantly starting at age 25. “With this decrease in collagen our skin loses its ability to ‘hold itself up,’ translating visually to increased skin laxity and fine lines and wrinkles,” says Hayag. “Along with aging, environmental factors such as sun exposure, smoking, and pollution can accelerate collagen breakdown.”
That’s where supplements like collagen powder come into use. “Collagen powder is made from animal tissue, primarily the skin and bones,” explains dermatologist Dr. Peterson Pierre. “The protein is processed into a gelatinous form, which is further hydrolyzed into peptides to make the protein easier for your body to absorb.” Pierre explains that “collagen peptides can potentially benefit the skin by increasing hydration and elasticity while reducing fine lines and wrinkle depth."
Keep reading for everything you need to know when shopping for a collagen powder.
Meet the Expert
- Marie Hayag, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist practicing in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. As an Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai Hospital, she also teaches in the Dermatology Department’s Surgery clinic. Dr. Hayag is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and is a member of many medical and professional organizations.
- Peterson Pierre, M.D., is a dermatologist practicing in Thousand Oaks, CA. He offers a wide range of services including lasers, injectables, and more. He is known by his patients as the “gentle injector,” referring to his skilled hand with needles.
- Kemunto Mokaya, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Alcoa, TN. She specializes in skin cancer and excision, as well as cosmetic skin procedures and pediatric dermatology.
What to Look For in a Collagen Powder
Read the Label
When it comes to choosing a collagen powder, “be very careful with the manufacturer,” says dermatologist Dr. Kemunto Mokaya. “Remember—the FDA does not closely regulate the supplement industry.” Quality collagen powders will have a third-party label, like NSF or USP. “Third-party groups test supplements to ensure they contain what’s on the label and aren’t contaminated with harmful substances like heavy metals,” she says.
Consider Collagen Types
“Look for a hydrolyzed bovine collagen supplement with a diverse amino acid profile that contains collagen types I and III,” says Pierre. These are the most potent forms of collagen for your skin, he says. Types I and III of collagen are the most abundant and can be sourced from bovine, or cow bones, says Hayag. She adds that type I collagen can also come from fish (you’ll see this described as “marine collagen”). Type II collagen, meanwhile, is found in cartilage and is important for joint health. For collagen powders made from animal sources, “look for companies that get their bones and tissues from antibiotic-free, cage-free, and free-range sources,” says Mokaya.
Beware of Filler Ingredients
Finally, “be sure to avoid artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners,” says Pierre. “You want a high-quality product with at least 90% protein,” Pierre advises taking your collagen powder once or twice daily for at least three months for the best results. Collagen powder typically dissolves in liquid and food, so you can add it to whatever you’re drinking or eating. (Always ask your doctor before adding a new supplement to your routine.)
Ready to try a collagen powder for yourself? Here, we’ve rounded up the best collagen powders for glowing, youthful-looking skin.
Best Overall: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Key Ingredients: Collagen Peptides | Certified: Non-GMO, paleo-friendly, gluten-free | Dosage: 20g | Size: 284g
This collagen powder if a fave amongst beauty editors and dermatologists alike. In fact, Byrdie editorial director Faith Xue is a huge fan. Says Hayag, “This collagen peptides powder is sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine to ensure a high-quality and sustainable source of this powerful ingredient.” Hayag adds that the formula contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, two other ingredients that support a more youthful appearance.
Best Budget: NeoCell Super Collagen Powder
Key Ingredients: Collagen powder, type 1 and type 3 | Certified: Paleo-friendly | Dosage: 6.6g | Size: 198g
Many collagen powders can be pricey, but this one is effective without a hefty price tag. “NeoCell offers an excellent quality collagen powder that is sourced from grass-fed and pastured raised cows, and contains no soy, wheat, lactose, starch, corn or yeast, and is also free from GMOs and artificial flavors,” says Hayag. “It also contains types I and III hydrolyzed collagen, which is great for hair, skin, nail, and bone health and is bioavailable and easily absorbed by the body.”
Best Value: Essential Elements Collagen Peptides Powder
Key Ingredients: Hydrolyzed collagen powder | Certified: Hormone-free, non-GMO | Dosage: 11g | Size: 454g
Pierre likes this collagen powder, which has gone through rigorous third-party testing to ensure safety and efficacy. The collagen peptides in the powder come from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows and are free of hormones and GMOs. One pouch offers 41 servings.
Best Tablets: HUM Nutrition Collagen POP Tablets
Key Ingredients: Premium Marine Collagen, Vitamin C | Certified: Non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free | Dosage: 1 Tablet | Size: 10 Tablets
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body, including the skin, but we cannot produce it on our own. For the skin, it helps to boost collagen, lighten discoloration, and fight free radicals.
Xue loves these fizzy, dissolvable collagen tablets—and for good reason. The combo of marine collagen peptides and vitamin C work together to help keep skin hydrated, firm and protected. Bonus: These collagen supplements have a yummy strawberry-lemon flavor.
Best Bovine: Great Lakes Gelatin Co Collagen Hydrolysate
Key Ingredients: Collagen Hydrolysate | Certified: Kosher | Dosage: 12g | Size: 454g
This collagen powder gets high marks for its beauty and health benefits. Not only does it promote glowing skin and stronger hair and nails, but it also supports your joints and can be beneficial to take post-workout. The collagen in this supplement comes from grass-fed, pasture-raised cows and is keto-friendly, paleo-friendly, and gluten-free.
Best Marine: Vital Proteins Marine Collagen
Key Ingredients: Snapper Scale Collagen Peptides | Certified: Dairy-free, gluten-free | Dosage: 12g | Size: 221g
Interested in marine collagen? Turn your attention to this option, which features collagen derived from wild-caught, non-GMO white fish. As a plus, it's Whole30- and paleo-friendly, and free of gluten, dairy, and added sugars. Simply add a scoop to hot or cold drinks like your morning cup of joe or even a smoothie.
Best Vegan: Moon Juice Beauty Vegan Collagen Protect Dietary Supplement
Key Ingredients: Rice Bran Solubles (Tocotrienols), Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp (Silver Ear Mushroom), Sodium Hyaluronate - Salt of Hyaluronic Acid | Dosage: 8g | Size: 128g
While actual collagen isn’t one of the ingredients in this vegan powder since collagen is derived from animals, the 100% natural ingredients in this are designed to help preserve your natural collagen and hydrate your skin.
Runner-Up, Best Vegan: Apothekary Better Than Botox Plant Collagen
Key Ingredients: Camu Camu, Schisandra Berry, Sea Buckthorn, Coconut Cream Powder | Certified: Vegetarian | Dosage: 2.5g | Size: 30g
You can still get in on the collagen fun even if you don’t eat products derived from meat. This collagen powder alternative has plenty of similar skin benefits. The plant-based collagen blend is made up of superfoods including camu camu, Schisandra berry, and sea buckthorn. These ingredients are high in vitamin C, omega 7, and adaptogens to promote a glowing complexion.
Best for Skin: LiveWell Labs Nutrition Collagen Peptides
Key Ingredients: All-Natural Hydrolized Bovine Collagen | Certified: Gluten-free, non-GMO, dairy-free, soy-free, preservative-free | Dosage: 11g | Size: 451g
Recommended by Pierre, this one is made with bovine collagen that comes from grass-fed, pasture-raised sources and is keto- and paleo-friendly. It even has third-party testing validation. Users note their skin looks clearer and tighter after adding this collagen powder to their routines and that the powder easily dissolves into drinks and has a very mild taste.
Best for Hair: Orgain Collagen Peptides
Key Ingredients: Bovine hide collagen peptides | Certified: Paleo, non-GMO, dairy-free, soy-free | Dosage: 10g | Size: 454g
Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins and have a role in virtually all the biological processes that occur in our bodies, including the reparation of skin.
In addition to boosting your glow, collagen powder also helps support healthy hair growth. This is a good option for hair, as it’s loaded with type I and III collagen and essential amino acids that are crucial for maintaining hair health. There’s no sugar, soy, or gluten in the supplement, which is virtually tasteless and can be mixed into any food and drink.
Best Energy-Boosting: GoDeep POWER Protein Powder
Key Ingredients: Collagen, blue spirulina, mucuna pruriens (aka dopamine bean), vanilla bean, monk fruit sweetener | Certified: Non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, corn-free | Dosage: 28.3g | Size: 424g
Want a side of energy with your firmer, smoother skin? Look to this collagen powder. In addition to skin-friendly collagen sourced from grass-fed bovine, it’s also formulated with blue spirulina, mucuna pruriens (also known as dopamine beans), vanilla bean, and monk fruit sweetener. Mix it with your milk of choice or into a smoothie for the best results.
Best Drugstore: Spring Valley Collagen Peptides Powder
Key Ingredients: Collagen Peptides types 1 & 3 | Certified: Keto, paleo, sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free | Dosage: 6.7g | Size: 255g
You don’t have to shell out lots of money to try a collagen powder for yourself. This drugstore pick is an affordable yet effective version containing type I and III collagen. It’s unflavored and easily stirs into liquids, so you can add it to your smoothie, water, or juice. Bonus: It’s also paleo- and keto-friendly, making it a great option if you follow one of these eating plans.
Best Flavor: Kayo Skin Perfect Collagen Powder Drink Mix
Key Ingredients: Wild Caught Marine Collagen, Hyaluronic Acid and Phytoceramides, Antioxidants and Silica | Certified: Non-GMO | Dosage: 14g | Size: 196g
This option also tops the list of Xue’s favorites, another great marine-based pick. It combines several other skin-loving ingredients—hyaluronic acid, photoceramides, antioxidants, silica—to further up the effects of the wild-caught marine collagen. But the best part? The delicious berry lemonade flavor, which is entirely naturally-derived.
There’s still not a ton of research indicating the concrete benefits of ingestible collagen, but we do know that any health risks are minimal. The point being, if you want to try a collagen powder, go for it. The Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides is arguably one of the best-known collagen powders out there, and it’s our favorite, too: a simple, high-quality option that’s unflavored and easily mixed with pretty much anything. That collagen is bovine-derived, but if you prefer a marine-based option, the brand has one of those as well. (The Kayo Skin Perfect Collagen Powder Drink Mix is another great marine pack with a yummy flavor.) Vegans should try the Moon Juice Beauty Vegan Collagen Protect Dietary Supplement; while it doesn’t contain actual collagen, it does contain ingredients that will help preserve your natural collagen.
What does collagen powder do?
Collagen powder is packed with protein, which can help bolster your skin’s own collagen (the foundation for strong, healthy, youthful skin). Collagen powder can potentially help improve skin’s elasticity and reduce wrinkle depth, while also increasing hydration. Plus, it’s not only beneficial for your skin, but also your hair, nails, bones, and joints.
How is collagen powder made?
Animal tissue—most often derived from cows (bovine collagen) or fish (marine collagen)—is processed into a gelatinous form, then hydrolyzed into peptides so that the protein is easier for your body to absorb.
What can you mix with collagen powder?
Pretty much any type of liquid. Try adding it to coffee, smoothies, or even a glass of water. It can also be mixed into the batter of baked goods pre-baking, or combined with foods such as oatmeal or yogurt.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any collagen powders from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Christina Heiser has a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest digital beauty publications out there. She’s also a health and wellness enthusiast and has tried plenty of supplements to complement her skin care routine. Since she started taking collagen powder daily a year ago, she’s noticed her complexion is clearer and smoother. Her must-have from this list is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, which blends seamlessly into her morning cup of coffee.