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There’s been a growing obsession with skincare over the past decade or so, and I’m definitely among the obsessed. I’ve found myself more and more interested in SPF, serums, and perfecting a morning and nighttime routine now, more than ever. And the change isn’t only on a surface level. I’ve been diligent about drinking a lot of water, have a monthly facial membership at Heyday, started taking supplements for my skin and began implementing foods that make my skin glow (with the help of Sakara Life). Maybe it’s all part of adulthood (which, ironically, is the reason our skin shows signs of aging).
As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, causing our skin to lose elasticity. “Collagen is a protein in our body that makes up connective tissue, bones, and muscles and is a major contributor to skin’s elasticity," explains Maryann Walsh. "As we age, collagen production slows down, making our bodies more likely to run into issues like aches and pains, brittle nails and hair, as well as the other dreaded signs of aging, like loss of firmness in skin and wrinkles."
Meet the Expert
Maryann Walsh, MFN, RD, CDE, is a registered dietitian and owner of Walsh Nutrition Consulting in Palm Beach, FL. She has been featured in a number of national media and news outlets.
That’s where supplements like collagen powder come into use. “Many people choose to supplement with collagen [powders] in order to prevent and enhance the health of connective tissue, muscles and of course hair, skin and nails," explains Walsh. But is it actually effective? The studies are promising. "In one study, women who supplemented with collagen saw a statistically significant improvement in skin elasticity," she says. "In another study, subjects who consumed an oral nutritional supplement consisting of hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, and a vitamin and mineral blend also saw an increase in skin elasticity and hydration.”
She says that the usual recommended starting dose of collagen is 10 to 30 grams per day, and to look for the ingredients hydrolyzed collagen or collagen hydrolysate in the ingredients list; this type of collagen is already broken down, so it is more readily absorbed in the body once it is ingested. “Collagen powders are so versatile and come in so many varieties now," she says. "There are flavorless powders that can be added to virtually anything (coffee, tea, etc.), and then there are fruit-flavored powders that complement smoothies, savory varieties that can be added to soups, even matcha-flavored collagen!" (The latter is her collagen supplement of choice.) The vast array of collagen powder options out there makes adding it to your daily intake much easier than before, and usually without affecting the taste of whatever you're adding it to.
Below, we’ve highlighted some of the best collagen powder brands to choose from. Since collagen is derived from animals, we've also included a couple of vegan alternatives.
Best Overall: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Fans of this all-natural collagen powder include Kourtney Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston, and Ashley Graham, to name a few. The brand has a wide array of collagen offerings (including collagen creamer and matcha collagen), but we're fans of the OG collagen peptides, which are gluten-free and dairy-free. The collagen is derived from bovine hide that is pasture-raised, and grass-fed.
Best Budget: Neocell Super Collagen
I’ve personally tried this brand’s Biotin Bursts and experienced healthier hair and nails within weeks (it also tastes like candy). For a boost in your body’s collagen supply, try NeoCell Super Collagen Powder Type 1 & 3. What does Type 1 and 3 mean? “There are 16 types of collagen in the body, but collagen type 1, 2 and 3 make up 90% of the collagen in the body," Walsh explains. “Type 1 collagen is most celebrated for not only benefiting muscles and connective tissue, but also for its beauty benefits. Type 2 is most celebrated for joint health, and type 3 collagen is more commonly linked to gut health."
NeoCell’s website suggests dissolving one scoop in your water or orange juice on an empty stomach and waiting 30 minutes before eating. It claims that visible improvements can be noticed in three weeks.
Walsh recommends Great Lakes collagen powder. “[While] it’s less glamorous-looking than others, it's got a pretty big loyal customer base and is a favorite among many," she explains.
Best Marine Collagen: Shore Magic Hydrolyzed Marine Collagen
Shore Magic is made from a single ingredient: hydrolyzed marine collagen. According to the website, Shore Magic is up to 19 times more easily absorbed than typical sources of collagen and it’s certified twice by third parties for its purity. There aren’t any additives.
Another 100% vegan alternative to collagen powder is The Nue Co.'s Skin Food + Prebiotic. The ingredients in Skin Food + Prebiotic are derived from fruit and brown rice, and are blended seamlessly to boost collagen production and help you achieve your glowy-skin goals.
Best Splurge: Agent Nateur The Holi(Youth) The Oceanic Adaptogen
Ingredients in this adaptogenic blend include marine collagen from fresh, wild-caught, deep-sea fish, organic basil, and organic Hawaiian spirulina. Try a tablespoon in hot water or a smoothie, or as a DIY fac emask (mix it with water and let it do its magic for 10 minutes).
Best Vegan: Moon Juice Beauty Shroom Vegan Collagen Protection
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. Gwyneth Paltrow, Shailene Woodley, and Emma Roberts are among many who’ve given Moon Juice a go, and if their skin is any indication, then we’re willing to try.
Editor's note: Walsh cautions, “Many can safely incorporate collagen supplements into their diet, but if you are on any medications or have any medical conditions, it’s always best to just run it by your doctor.”