It can seem like out of nowhere that you’ve had to amp up your blush application since your cheeks are looking a little saggy, or change your eyeliner technique because your eyelids are looking droopier. These “sudden” changes are thanks to anatomical wear and tear, years of sun exposure and a decline of healthy skin cells, but the main culprit? A slow down in the body’s production of skin-firming collagen. And products abound that promise to replenish and encourage collagen production to combat the more lax skin and growing facial lines that make us self-conscious. One thing you may be hearing more and more about? Drinkable collagen. But is it the best way to improve collagen for older women? Read on to find out.
What is collagen and why do women need it?
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein made up of essential amino acids that give our skin its elasticity and structure, helping to keep it smooth and supple. The body’s natural collagen production decreases as we age, leading to sagging skin, wrinkles and fine lines.
The production of collagen starts to decline around age 35 — from there, we lose about 1 to 1.5% of collagen per year. It may not sound like much, but by age 60, your body’s natural collagen stores have been cut in half. Collagen accounts for 30% of the body’s natural proteins and is important to skin, nails, hair, muscles and tendons. As collagen levels dip over time, skin may become less elastic, bones can become weaker and joints and muscles can feel stiff and store.
Below are some of the most common signs of collagen deficiency:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Brittle nails
- Dry skin
- Bone, joint, and muscle pain
- Thinning hair
- Weak ligaments
The current buzz on restoring what nature is taking away goes beyond using creams infused with collagen or collagen-production-promoting ingredients:
“Supplementing with collagen can help replenish the body’s collagen levels, promoting youthful skin and combating signs of aging,” says dermatologist Navin S. Arora, DO, FAAD.
“Collagen is a magic ingredient,” says Mark Hyman, MD, author of Food Fix. He notes that it’s rich stores of amino acids help improve skin, hair, joints, blood-sugar levels, gut health and heart health. Plus it’s one of the best ways to ease body aches that become increasingly more common as we age.
What are the benefits to drinking your collagen?
Several studies have shown that ingesting collagen reverses the signs of aging from the inside out but that liquid forms of it have better absorption rates than collagen in food.
A review and analysis of 19 of these studies published in the International Journal of Dermatology showed that those who used collagen supplements saw a noticeable improvement in the firmness, suppleness and moisture content of the skin, with wrinkles appearing as less noticeable — although it is unclear if it was the collagen or other factors that were at play.
In other research reported in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, women aged 45 to 65 who ingested 2.5 grams of a hydrolyzed collagen peptide once a day for eight weeks had a 20% reduction in wrinkle depth around their eyes. Plus, their level of a precursor to collagen (called pro-collagen) soared 65% — and pro-collagen is thought to kickstart future collagen production.
Both results were long-lasting: The women’s skin was still dewier and more supple four weeks after they stopped taking the supplements.
Here, a breakdown of the specific skin-healthy benefits studies to show you what you could have from drinking collagen daily.
1. It can make skin appear more youthful overall
A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that oral collagen peptide supplementation significantly improved skin elasticity – or skin’s ability to stretch and then bounce back – especially in mature women. Since our face loses volume as we age, this helps make our skin appear plump and youthful. (Click through to discover more collagen supplement benefits, including weight loss.)
2. Drinking collagen can smooth out crow’s feet
“Drinking collagen has been shown to lead to a significant decrease in the depth and amount of wrinkles around the eyes (aka crow’s feet),” explains Dr. Arora. Meaning you can skip the Botox, which can have adverse side effects, or pricey eye creams, which may not work as well.
3. It can make older women’s skin less saggy
If jowls and loose skin drag you and your face down, downing a collagen shot can help firm things back up. In fact, a clinical trial published in the Journal of Medicinal Food reported that collagen supplementation firmed up saggy skin and made it feel smoother overall.
4. Drinking collagen can help older women’s hair grow
Collagen is also essential to healthy hair. Research has shown that collagen infuses directly into the hair follicles, so boosting with additional collagen peptides can support hair growth and make it thicker, fuller and longer.
5. It can strengthen nails for older women
Nails can also benefit and grow longer and stronger from an added collagen boost. One study showed that people with brittle nails who took 2.5 grams of collagen once daily for 24 weeks increased nail growth by 12% and decreased the rate of breakage by 42%.
The best drinkable collagens for older women
If you want to try it but are unsure where to start, we’ve rounded up a few you affordable options. Important to know: Collagen supplements can come from plant sources, animal sources or a combination of both, so if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, that may factor into which one you choose.
Revive Collagen is a new product out of the U.K. geared towards menopausal women and uses 5,000 mg (and up) of type 1 hydrolyzed marine collagen, the closest to the collagen naturally found in human bodies. Jennifer Lopez’s hairstylist, Chris Appleton, is a fan and the brand’s ambassador.
Bauman Medical THE BUILDER Hair Multi-Collagen Complex Peptide Protein Powder (Buy from Bauman Medical, $65)
Bauman Medical BodyBuilder, comes in powder form that you can mix with the liquid of your choice and is formulated with three proprietary ingredients, delivering vital proteins that multiply natural collagen levels.
Aethern Liquid Collagen Drink Formula with Bioactive Collagen Peptides and Hyaluronic Acid (Buy from Aethern, $149)
If one daily shot is easier to remember, Aethern packs a collagen punch of 12 natural ingredients, promising results in as many weeks.
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder Supplement (Buy from Amazon, $33.21)
Vital Proteins offers single-use packets you can stash in your purse, sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine, to ensure a high-quality and sustainable source of this potent ingredient.
Are there any downsides to drinking collagen?
When it comes to skin, not everyone agrees collagen is worthwhile or beneficial to ingest. According to the Harvard School of Harvard Health, a significant downside of collagen supplements is that they might not contain what they claim, as the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate these supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed to consumers
Also, you may not even really need to drink you collagen. “If your diet is rich in proteins and vitamin C, and you meet your nutritional needs, purchasing an additional collagen supplement is unnecessary. A collagen, amino acid serum that feels good on the skin may be a better use of money for its moisturizing properties,” advises medical esthetician Cassandra Bankson who talks about her thoughts on collagen supplementation on hger popular YouTube channel:
Are there any alternatives to drinkable collagen?
If you opt to skip the collagen supplements altogether and are looking for alternatives, doctors say there are other things you can try to get the same anti-aging benefits. Topical products are designed to be applied directly to the skin and can help improve the appearance and texture of skin, although may not be quite as effective.
“You can also get the same amount of collagen with dietary sources like bone broth, chicken skin and fish,” says Dr. Arora. “While direct links between dietary collagen and skin health are still being studied, a balanced diet with collagen-containing foods can contribute to overall wellness,” she adds.
In-office procedures like microneedling, laser therapy and collagen injections can also be more permanent solutions, although do carry some risks and, of course, higher costs. “Licensed professionals perform these treatments and can stimulate collagen production with noticeable results,” Dr. Arora says.
For more on collagen, click through: