I Took Collagen For 4 Weeks: Here's What It Did For My Skin
I made my first bone broth five years ago in the throes of a full-fledged cold. Instantly, I was hooked—the warm, savory comfort of the broth sliding down my aching throat and the promise of the healing powers that have helped people for hundreds of years. I became a bone broth convert and spent several years making my own broth and buying my friends slow cookers for their birthdays so they, too, could experience its benefits.
And then I moved from London back to New York, and the weather became a whole lot less broth-friendly, especially in the summer, where the soupy humidity felt distressingly similar to the liquid in my cup. My batches of broth became once-a-month affairs, and then even less frequent. It's hard to say whether my health suffered—my anxiety is the main reason I'm interested in gut healing, and it's tangled up in so many different factors. I felt less vibrant and healthy, just not quite enough to go through the effort of making more broth.
I started learning about collagen supplements.
It began showing up in my Instagram feed, with Outdoor Voices–clad women talking about its benefits as they chucked it into their potion-filled lattes. World-class functional medicine doctors mentioned it in their mbg classes, and it showed up in conversations with other wellness-minded folk at events.
The purported benefits were much the same as bone broth: Collagen supplements are meant to help seal and heal the gut lining, so less waste matter gets leaked into your system. On a far more attractive-to-envision level, collagen is also one of the key factors in supporting plump, youthful skin and long, strong hair. It's thought to support your natural production of collagen. It's similar to why we tell you to eat vitamin C or apply it topically, as it stimulates your body's production of collagen.
Then I began experimenting with collagen powder recipes.
Many of the collagen devotees I know would have some variation on this for breakfast, claiming the healthy fat and protein (collagen has a whopping 18 grams per serving) keeps them full through lunch. For me? I stuck with having at least a little breakfast. The drink was creamy, thick, and delicious, but I still had a green smoothie at 10 a.m.
I tried it in my bars, in drinks, in hot chocolate as an afternoon pick-me-up, before settling into an easy routine of adding a heaping scoop of collagen powder to my morning smoothie. Beyond that, there's maybe a slightly thicker texture, but the smoothie is unchanged.
The skin benefits: Why I decided to stick with collagen supplements.
After a few weeks, I began to get compliments on my skin. While it was never bad, I struggle with large pores ("What are those dots all over your face?" my husband's 8-year-old niece once asked), uneven texture, and ruddiness. After three weeks, my skin looked smoother than it has since elementary school. I started wearing less foundation and began smiling at myself in mirrors more. Also, my nails grew fast. This side effect was less than welcome for me (I love my nails super short and find clipping them an annoying waste of time) but could be a boon for some people. And I found myself getting fewer anxiety-induced stomachaches and generally enjoying better digestion. After a month, I was a convert.
As an editor at a wellness website, I have tried a lot of different trends, and very few stick. Collagen has, and I think it's for two reasons: 1) I found a way to incorporate it into my existing routine, and 2) it ticks a lot of boxes. It serves the function of a protein powder, flavor enhancer, gut-healer, and skin-booster all in one. And if the only downside is having to cut my nails a bit more often? I can live with that.
Liz Moody is the host of the top-rated The Liz Moody Podcast, author of bestselling books Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships and Glow Pops, and a popular online content creator who has helped millions of people transform their lives.
Her new book, 100 Ways to Change Your Life: The Science of Leveling Up Health, Happiness, Relationships & Success draws from Moody’s more than a decade of experience in the health and wellness world, serving as a new kind of personal development book—one that empowers readers to craft their unique, best life based on the habits they want to form, the problems they want to solve, and the parts of their life they want to take to the next level.
A longtime journalist for publications including Vogue, Marie Claire, and goop, an online creator with a social media following of more than 1 Million, and the founder of Healthy Convo Co, a conversation game company designed to facilitate fun and life-changing conversations, Liz previously served as food director for mindbodygreen, where she led content strategy for the food section. A regular speaker, panelist, and podcast guest, Liz shares her own deeply personal anxiety journey that led her to where she is now as well as actionable, fun, and science-based ways for everyone to live their best lives.