Collagen Supplements Are Superior To Collagen Creams — Here's Why

mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department.
Collagen powder and pills on pink background

Collagen is a vital part of our skin structure. It is the reason our skin stays equal parts firm and plump when we are young—essentially it is the structural part that keeps our skin in place. Without it, we see sagging, wrinkles, and sallowness. 

As you likely know, we lose it slowly over time. This happens naturally starting in our late 20s, and then continues at about a 1% decline every year after that. But it also happens due to lifestyle habits, such as sun exposure, poor diet, stress, and other environmental aggressors.   

It's no wonder people spend so much time, energy, and money trying to figure out how to keep our collagen intact. But not all ways to support your collagen levels are equal. 

Skip the collagen creams and utilize supplements. 

"Collagen" as a beauty product marketing tool is fairly common. You'll see it pop up on creams, serums, and scalp treatments, all in the hopes of younger, healthier-looking skin. And it's not all for naught: Collagen does hydrate when used topically. However, it's not actually doing more than that—and it's certainly not aiding in collagen production. 

"Collagen is a huge molecule that sits on the surface of the skin and cannot be absorbed into the dermis," board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D., previously told us about collagen creams. "When applied topically, it is not possible for collagen to penetrate, which is why we use other actives to stimulate collagen production."

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So how does one actually promote collagen production? You have to go internal. 

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Collagen supplements are your best bet for promoting collagen production.* Here's why: Collagen supplements are actually made with hydrolyzed collagen peptides, or short-chain amino acids that can actually be absorbed by the body when ingested.* From there it travels throughout the body; in the case of your skin, the peptides are able to aid your skin's fibroblasts—or what makes collagen and elastin—so your body is able to promote collagen production naturally.* Research backs this up: Research shows that these collagen peptides are able to support skin elasticity and dermal collagen density.*

And it makes sense as to why your stomach is better able to absorb collagen, versus your skin. Remember: Your gut is supposed to absorb nutrients and deliver them throughout your body. Your skin, on the other hand, is supposed to act as a barrier and thus, isn't as permeable. 

The takeaway. 

If you care about promoting collagen, first and foremost: Start a collagen supplement routine.* This will help your body create more on its own; now you can also further enhance your natural collagen levels with topical products—just via different ingredients like vitamin C or glycolic acid. See, these topicals are better absorbed by the skin and skin cells, where they can actually help your body produce more collagen instead of sitting on the surface. If you want more info on a full collagen-enhancing skin care routine, check out our guide here.

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