Collagen is a noteworthy buzz word in the world of skincare and biology. It’s the thing you never think of until you rapidly start losing it.
Let’s nerd out a bit about what collagen is. We’re going to get slightly scientific here, but stick with me.
Collagen comes from the Greek word “kolla,” meaning glue. That’s a great way of thinking what collagen’s function is in the body. Made of up naturally-occurring amino acids in the body, collagen plays a major role in protein function. We all know protein is important for strong muscles; think of collagen as important for making the protein work as it should. Collagen also provides a connective network within the skin that provides support, repairs trauma, and outwardly maintains a youthful, glowing and bouncy appearance to the skin.
Over time our collagen levels deteriorate, and at an exponential rate around the age of 40. This leads to sagging, dull skin that loses the bounce and glow. I like to think of the pinch test – imagine pinching the cheek of a five year old (it feels firm and bounces right back) and then pinching the cheek of old Granny Glenda (feels malleable and more like loose skin than firm muscle). Collagen breakdown starts to show up in hallowed eyes (sunken under your eye lids), deflated cheeks and jowls (flaps of skin under your jaw caused by gravity).
OMG. We are going to be SO SEXY when we’re older….
The rate at which this happens is driven by genetics, but is also further exacerbated by sun exposure, smoking, diet especially high in sugar, free-radical stress and constant strain like running (think of your face constantly being stretched as you bounce upon the pavement). I knew I had an excuse for not working out…I digress.
Medical News Today has a great write up if you want to further satiate your appetite for science.
Collagen in beauty care
You will hear collagen as a touted ingredient in skin care until you’re blue in the face. The idea seems promising as it makes sense that if you know you’re going to lose it, why not slather/ingest/inject yourself with it to give yourself what your body needs.
For as many believers in collagen, there are seemingly as many nay-sayers. The skeptics say that while there are benefits to the moisturizing effect, the molecules that make up collagen are too large to be absorbed into the skin and therefore any skin-building properties would be lost. Injected collagen from fillers disappears over time, and ingested collagen likely doesn’t make it past the acids in the stomach and digestive process.
Collagen is also usually derived from bovine (cow) sources which prove to be issues for those who live a non-meat lifestyle, and can pose health risks if being derived from speculative sources.
Time to experiment
Admittedly, my skincare routine is on-fleek but my diet is left TBD (to be desired. It’s definitely determined – lackluster at best). I have noticed that I don’t get enough protein and was on the hunt for a protein shake. They basically all suck in my opinion when it comes to drinkability and after five thought all hope was lost.
I had been reading posts about people drinking collagen for my hobby job (this) and found one while doing a brand exercise for my day job. I ended up purchasing the powdered version from Vital Proteins, which has the backing of Jennifer Anniston and professional athletic teams. The goal is that I will get more protein in my diet which will alleviate those sudden pangs of BURGER NOW and because I’m a sucker for anything that will make my skin look good I’m willing to give it a go.
I’m going to drink it for 90 days, checking in with ReadHead readers around day 30 and again at 90 to give you the update on before and after pics, and my experience collagen-ing.
What do you think? Believe the hype or think it’s fluffier than a newborn bovine’s ears? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.