From Instagram to Pinterest, collagen drinks are pretty much everywhere at the moment, serving up promises of plump, glowing skin free of fine lines and wrinkles with every sip.
But are these wonder shots as effective as drinks companies make out, or are they simply a #spon fad? And if they do work, exactly how much would you need to drink to see a difference in your skin?
ELLE got the experts involved to find out once and for all…
What Are Collagen Drinks And What Do They Do?
Many collagen drinks on the market harness a hydrolysed form of collagen or collagen peptides, which, when ingested daily, claim to benefit your complexion from the inside out.
According to research, collagen is responsible for the structure and elasticity in our skin, but after the age of 25, we tend to lose approximately 1.5% of collagen every year. Cue fine lines and slack skin over time – not cool.
How Do Collagen Drinks Work?
A daily dose of collagen to banish lines and sagging sounds a little too good to be true, but is there any evidence in the claims?
‘The collagen peptides in these drinks are reportedly digested into smaller molecules and then absorbed in our gut, and have been shown to appear one hour after ingestion in the bloodstream,’ says London-based Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Justine Kluk. ‘Investigations using radioactive labelling have demonstrated that these absorbed peptides can reach the skin and may be retained in the tissue for up to 2 weeks,’ she adds
Are There Any Real Benefits Of Collagen Drinks?
‘A growing number of laboratory-based studies demonstrate the potential for collagen peptides in drinks or supplements to improve skin hydration and to reduce wrinkles by strengthening our own collagen networks,’ says Dr Kluk.
‘The amount recommended in clinical studies varies from 2.5 to 10g per day, with some reporting their outcomes at 4 weeks and others after 8 or more weeks,’ Dr Kluk continues, ‘but the jury is still out as to whether these products actually work for the general population, so the best dose and duration are yet to be determined. In fact, evidence for their effectiveness on human skin outside of the laboratory setting is still scarce,’ she adds, something Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist at Skin55 and author of The Skincare Bible: Your No-Nonsense Guide to Great Skin, explains further.
The Hard Evidence
‘Collagen is a protein which is broken down in the gut during digestive processes to smaller molecules such as peptides and subsequently amino-acids,’ Dr Mahto says. ‘There is little evidence that ingesting whole collagen will survive digestion and then travel in the blood stream to the skin in high enough quantities to make any meaningful change to the skin’s structure or function.’
‘Many of the new supplements contain fragments of collagen (collagen peptides) rather than whole collagen,’ Dr Mahto adds. ‘You might have heard the argument that these collagen peptides “fool” the body into thinking that collagen has been broken down resulting in new collagen production, but I’d treat these arguments with caution as there are few robust, validated high-quality scientific trials to confirm this.’