While ingredients often come in and out of favor, none are quite as contested as collagen. Found naturally all over the body, collagen is involved in many important functions, such as tissue repair and regeneration.
But as we get older, our natural collagen supplies start to dip and retaining the skin’s plump, pillowy feel becomes more challenging. But is a collagen serum effective at restoring your natural levels? The research is unclear if applied topically collagen can penetrate the skin to offer the benefits brands claim. However, hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides are smaller molecules and have the best chance of penetrating the skin. Collagen has also hydrating benefits and, when combined with other actives like retinol, can stimulate the production of more collagen.
To help save you time and money on unsuitable products, we’ve tested a wide range of the best collagen serums available. We took into consideration how they felt on the skin, the short- and long-term results, and innovative ways they boosted collagen in the skin. We also considered each serum’s price, potency, and additional benefits.
Read on to find out which of the other collagen serums we tested made it into our hotlist.
Biossance Squalane + Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum
Vegan and eco-conscious
Pump can become clogged
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this skin-plumping serum doesn’t have the word “collagen” in its name—it’s packed full of collagen-boosting peptides, which made a noticeable difference to our skin when testing (alongside hyaluronic acid and squalene). This is a great all-around choice that is gentle enough to be used on even very sensitive skin and delivers big on hydration and radiance.
Price at time of publish: $68
Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Skin Type: Dry, combo or normal skin | Size: 30 milliliters
Best on Amazon
Elemis Pro-Collagen Super Serum Elixir
Gentle enough to use every day
Contains hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid
Fragrance is strong
Rather than introducing collagen directly to the skin, this super serum uses African Birch Bark to help restore and maintain collagen synthesis in the skin. Its powerful combination of tripeptides, red seaweed, and hyaluronic acid also make it a great alternative to retinol if you’ve previously found it too irritating but want those line-smoothing benefits.
Price at time of publish: $65
Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No | Skin Type: Suitable for all | Size: 15 milliliters
Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide 24 Day Serum
It leaves the skin feeling instantly soft
Free from artificial dyes and perfumes
Packaging feels a bit fragile
There’s a reason that Olay has been used for generations, and that’s because the brand’s gentle formulas really work. Olay’s Regenerist Collagen Peptide 24 Day Serum is no exception and leaves the skin feeling soft, supple, and hydrated with a high concentration of collagen peptides and Vitamin B3 (otherwise known as niacinamide). What it lacks in luxurious packaging, it totally makes up for in efficacy—so if you want great skin without totally breaking the bank, this is a serious contender.
Price at time of publish: $20
Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Skin Type: Suitable for all | Size: 1.3 ounces
Kosas Plump + Juicy Vegan Collagen Spray-On Serum
Very hydrating and brightening
Great for refreshing and priming the skin
It’s not an essential—just a nice, added extra
A beauty editor and TikTok favorite, we’re happy to confirm that Kosas’ Plump and Juicy Vegan Collagen Spray is all that we hoped it would be. A brand-new innovation, this lightweight serum comes in a mist format that penetrates deeply into the skin while leaving an oil-free finish. This is particularly ideal if you don’t like the feeling of heavy formulas on your skin or want to create a dewy makeup look by using it as a primer. The secret to that raved-about glow? Its jam-packed formula of skin-loving ingredients includes hyaluronic acid, peptides, probiotics, and vegan collagen.
Price at time of publish: $45
Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Skin Type: Suitable for all including sensitive | Size: 1.3 ounces
Best Retinol Alternative
Higher Dose Glow Serum
Serum can be used alone or with a HigherDose LED mask
Creates a relaxing ritual
Offers an extra collagen boost with the mask
High price point
HigherDose’s Glow serum is a work of science fiction, formulated with vegan collagen, bio-identical collagen, and the collagen-boosting protein sepilift. There’s a whole host of other skin-plumping ingredients in there, too—including hyaluronic acid, copper tripeptide-1, and niacinamide that help to boost the skin’s natural glow, target signs of aging, and plump the texture of the skin.
Price at time of publish: $79
Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Skin Type: Suitable for all | Size: 1 ounce
The Inkey List Collagen Booster Firming Peptide Serum
Formulated with two collagen-boosting peptides
Accessible price point
Contains hyaluronic acid
There’s no actual collagen in this pick from The Inkey List, but it cleverly draws on the power of two different peptides to help boost the skin’s natural production process. It’s super lightweight and leaves the skin feeling soft and dewy, thanks to the addition of hyaluronic acid and glycerin. It’s also suitable for firming, plumping, and smoothing the skin. The Inkey List always gets extra points for its purse-friendly prices that don’t compromise on the quality of ingredients, and this remains a firm fixture in our everyday routine.
Price at time of publish: $13
Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Skin Type: Normal, Dry, Combination, and Oily | Size: 30 milliliters
Farmacy Filling Good Hyaluronic Acid Plumping Serum
Contains hyaluronic acid and collagen
Brightens dull skin
Improves an uneven skin texture
Tingly feeling upon application that may not be desirable
If you have a drier skin type and want a serum that helps to boost collagen and tackle hydration levels, then this is a great option. It contains full-spectrum hyaluronic acid (designed to penetrate the skin quicker) and vegan collagen peptides to visibly plump and micro-fill the skin while hydrating and smoothing the appearance of lines and wrinkles and an uneven skin texture. Use it when your complexion is feeling a little grey and dull and in need of a pick-me-up.
Price at time of publish: $48
Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Skin Type: Normal and dry | Size: 30 milliliters
Best for Eyes
Cell Shock 360 Anti-Wrinkle Eye Zone Serum
Luxurious, spa-like quality
Hydrating but not oily
Doesn’t pill under makeup
Expensive price point
Swiss Line’s award-winning eye serum is designed to counteract the signs of fatigue—such as lines, wrinkles, and dark circles. It works by taking a three-pronged approach to collagen production: First, it helps the skin produce more of its own collagen with a type of soluble collagen, strengthens skin with a collagen-boosting peptide, and by helping the skin preserve its existing collagen reservoir. Clever? Certainly. But most importantly, it's silky smooth and leaves the under-eye area feeling supple and hydrated.
Price at time of publish: $195
Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Skin Type: Fatigued skin, dark circles | Size: 15 milliliters
Best for Lips
BeautyBio The Pout Sparkling Rosé Lip Serum
Helps the lips appear fuller
Mint flavor might not be for everyone
Collagen is present all over the body, including the lips, so it can be beneficial to top up the levels here for an irresistible pout. BeautyBio’s lip serum uses hyaluronic acid spheres, collagen, and sunflower seed oil to hydrate, plump, and visibly increase elasticity in the lips. We also love its tingly sensation and vanilla-mint flavor. It also makes a great gift idea, too, if you want to start dropping hints.
Price at time of publish: $40
Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Skin Type: Normal, dry, combination and oily | Size: 15 milliliters
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Capsules
Targets hair, skin, and nails at once
Flavorless, so can be added to virtually anything
Remembering to add it to your drinks is a habit that takes time to form
Results are not as instant as skincare
A topical serum isn’t the only way that you can top up your collagen levels, and a supplement is an effective way of targeting your skin, hair, and nails at all once. This supplement from Vital Proteins comes in flavorless powder form and can be mixed into your morning coffee, smoothie, or even a cake for a collagen-packed boost. Each serving contains 20 grams of collagen in addition to hyaluronic acid and probiotics that, according to the brand, "help to support healthy hair, skin and nails, bone and joint health, and digestion."
Price at time of publish: $30
Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Skin Type: Suitable for all | Sizes: 20 grams or 567 grams
Biossance’s Squalane + Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum was our overall favorite due to its lovely feel on the skin and noticeable results. The Inkey List’s Collagen Booster Firming Peptide Serum also works well at an affordable price point. We also want to give a special mention to HigherDOSE Glow Serum purely for its impressive formulation that’s supercharged by the red LED mask. It is an expensive purchase but, if used often, far cheaper than a course of in-salon treatments.
What to Look For in a Collagen Serum
Hydrolyzed Collagen and Collagen Peptides
As collagen is such a large molecule, it’s believed that hydrolyzed collagen—with a smaller molecular size—is more effective at penetrating the skin. Many of the products mentioned above also contain collagen peptides which are another variation of collagen created when whole collagen proteins are broken into smaller pieces.
Collagen is a great ingredient, but its powers have their limits. Look to boost your results by finding formulations containing other collagen-stimulating ingredients such as retinoids, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and peptides.
The collagen used in skincare and supplements generally comes from animal products such as bone broth from pigs, cows, and fish. (You may see this labeled as bovine or marine collagen.) Vegan collagen, on the other hand, is made from genetically modified yeast and bacteria and is found in products such as Kosas Plump and Juicy Vegan Collagen Spray.
How often should I use a collagen serum?
“Many would opt to use a collagen serum once a day, but I would recommend using it twice a day for quicker results,” advises Hasan Benar, MD, a dermatologist and aesthetic doctor. “To get maximum absorption, you can also apply it after exfoliating.”
Which is better for your face: collagen or retinol?
Retinol is better understood and more supported in the dermatologist community when it comes to anti-aging (it even stimulates collagen)—but not everyone can use retinol.
“Topical retinol in serums and face creams is great for kickstarting collagen by not only increasing cell turnover and improving skin tone but also protecting the skin from future external damage,” Dr. Benar says. But as retinol can irritate sensitive skin and isn’t suitable during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it isn’t suitable for everyone. If you fall into any of these camps, a collagen serum may be a better option.
Dr. Benar goes on to explain that while collagen is mostly responsible for keeping skin supple, smooth, and firm, other benefits include restoring hydration, brightening the skin tone, and improving skin texture.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Catherine Hufton has been a contributing writer for Byrdie since 2022. She digs deep into all things fashion and beauty to find the very best shopping must-haves—from the most effective collagen serums to the best maternity stores.