Collagen products have been picking up popularity in recent years. Magazines, beauty experts, and celebrities have raved about the benefits of collagen for its supposed cosmetic properties (Jennifer Aniston reportedly accredits it to her ever-youthful glow while Kourtney Kardashian has praised its overall skin and health benefits).
Could collagen supplements really live up to the all the hype they’ve been generating? I decided to find out.
At the time, I was doing it to explore the cosmetic benefits. But I had no idea how collagen it would transform way more than just my nails, hair and skin. Here’s what happened when I tried taking collagen supplements every day for a month.
I initially became interested in collagen for some of the cosmetic benefits. Although not prone to acne, I’d struggled with constant breakouts over my forehead the prior 4-5 months. Also, in spite of up-keeping a very consistent hair care routine, I noticed a more fragile, brittle quality to my hair in the past two years.
But when I started researching collagen, I actually became more intrigued with some of the other benefits it had to offer. Increasing my overall skeletal muscle mass is one of my focuses in my weight training routine and (as I discussed in my bloating article) my digestive system has gone through some crazy changes recently that have forced me to majorly alter my diet.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also runs strongly on the maternal side of my family. RA symptoms can begin manifesting as early as age 30 and three times as many women are impacted by the condition than men, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Given my genetic propensity and active line of work, preventative care for my joints is a big priority to me.
If collagen could possibly help heal or reinforce the lining of my stomach, complement my bodybuilding goals and keep my joints happy and healthy over time, I was willing to test it out!
How My Nail Health Changed on Collagen
The first thing that I noticed was a change in my nails. I’ve always had very bendy, flimsy fingernails that grow slowly and break constantly. (Which isn’t exactly a life crisis, but was the reason I wore fake nails a lot in high school.)
About two weeks in, I noticed that my nails were growing more quickly, taking on a sturdy quality and no longer breaking when I bumped into doorknobs or free weights at the gym. They were growing at twice their normal rate and holding up against daily wear and tear.
You might be wondering “who really knows things like their normal rate of nail growth?” This girl does. Like I said, growing up I really wanted long pretty nails.
In middle school, I actually kept track of their growth in the most scientific manner I knew possible: tracing my fingers out on a piece of notebook paper to compare outlines until they were at an optimal length for glitter polish. (Middle school was a crazy time for all of us, don’t judge me.) I’m telling you, this was the nail growth of my 6th-grade dreams.
How My Entire Family’s Joint Health Improved on Collagen
Like I mentioned earlier, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) runs very strongly in my family on my maternal side. Both my grandfather and my mother have it and my mother was diagnosed with it at a fairly early age in her early 40s.
Scoliosis and vertebral subluxation also runs in my family through my maternal line, both of which I inherited.
As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I use my body a lot on a daily basis for a living. I was also an avid runner for eight years. Leading a very active lifestyle has had a low of positive benefits for my health, but it has also definitely had an impact on my joints.
By my mid 20s, I found myself struggling with significant joint pain in my knees and ankles. And while I’m fortunate that my scoliosis is quite mild compared to many people (and has never required medical intervention or surgery), I’ve always struggled with chronic pain in my spine from my spine.
Since incorporating collagen supplements, I’ve noticed a significant decrease in joint pain and stiffness. I can also tell when I’ve been off collagen for a while, because that pain and stiffness returns.
I’ve had such success with collagen that I actually recommended it both my mother and grandfather. They began regularly incorporating collagen powder and reported a huge difference in pain management with their battle with RA. In fact, my grandfather (in his 90’s) has told us that collagen is the predominant thing he uses for pain management with his arthritis.
My father also takes it now to manage chronic back pain. When I was in high school, my father broke his back in a sledding accident. You wouldn’t guess it now but it was a devastating injury that nearly left him paralyzed. He began incorporating collagen after hearing how much it had helped other family members manage chronic pain. It’s made a tremendous difference in his chronic back pain and he now regularly recommends it to anyone and everyone.
How My Hair Health Changed on Collagen
As a personal trainer, my hair is pulled back in braids or ponytails in gyms throughout the week, so my hair care routine is fairly low-maintenance. But for the sake of documenting the kinds of changes I saw, I’ll run you through my typical hair care routine.
My hair is super straight and for most of my life has been fairly non-fussy. In college, it was so rare for my hair to tangle that I just ran my fingers through my hair to even it out in the morning most day.
I’m not great with styling and am fairly lazy with my hair. I never use heated styling tools like straighteners, curling irons (because I’m lousy at it) or hairdryers (I let my hair air-dry).
I don’t use a ton of hair products, wash it 1-2 times a week and get highlights and a deep conditioning mask once a month.
One of the issues I began noticing in my hair the past couple years before collagen was an increasing brittleness and an inclination for breaking and tangling. I added in a couple hair products (a leave-in spray conditioner and a hair serum) the year prior to try and boost my hair health, but to no avail.
During my collagen experiment, I decided not to change anything in my hair routine and just to see what happened.
I didn’t notice any major changes the first couple weeks. But by the third week, I noticed my hair was easier to brush and not tangling as much. By the fifth, I was able to start brushing it out with just my fingers again in the mornings. My hair was happier, healthier and not tangling, splitting or breaking as much anymore.
How My Skin Improved on Collagen
I’ve always had a very consistent skincare routine and have never been prone to much acne. But in the last year or so before trying collagen, I’d noticed an increase in the number of breakouts.
Believe it or not, my breakouts actually got a bit worse the first couple weeks of taking collagen, causing me a slight panic. The collagen was the only thing I had changed in my routine and I wondered if I should call it quits.
But I remembered what my dermatologist in high school told me once when I visited for a similar series of breakouts. He told me when addressing acne, things tend to get worse before they get better because the treatment process would draw a lot of the impurities to the surface of my skin. He told me to trust the process and see it through, because it was ultimately better to deal with the root of the problem, not just mask the symptoms.
So I decided to stick it out and see if the same principle applied with taking collagen. One-by-one, as each blemish came to its worst point, it faded out into clear, even skin after. This happened over the course of about five weeks.
Now, I’m not trying to make any definitive claims that collagen supplements are some magical cure-all skin solution. But my forehead did clear up and now over two months later has remained clear since introducing a collagen supplement. And now over two years, it’s remained noticeably clearer since on collagen supplements than off. After that 4-5 months of perpetual forehead breakouts, it certainly seems to have made a positive difference for me.
Final Thoughts on Taking Collagen Supplements
Since I wrote this review on collagen back in 2018, I’ve continued to regularly incorporating collagen into my supplement routine. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever go back to not consuming collagen powder on a daily basis.
Collagen has made a noticeable impact in my hair, skin and nail health. I can also notice the ways that collagen supplements have improved my joint health and the struggle with chronic joint and back pain for myself and numerous members of my family.
Originally published: https://reesewoods.com/i-tried-taking-collagen-for-a-month/