How does collagen work, anyway? As knowledge about this complex antiaging beauty supplement increases, companies are launching new products (or rebranding old ones) to capture its full potential. Which type of collagen should you look for? Can you find "vegetarian" collagen? Which other nutrients help promote collagen production? Top questions, new research and the latest from manufacturers.
Over the past few years, collagen has emerged as a standout in the cosmetics and nutricosmetics categories, used for its antiaging, wrinkle-fighting prowess. While there’s still a lot to learn about the ingredient’s effects on our skin when ingested or applied topically, consumer and manufacturer knowledge is increasing. The result: a noticeable change in the strategies behind launching new products and marketing existing offerings.
The all-in-one approach
Collagen comes in three forms. Types I and III are commonly used to support healthy hair, skin, nails, tendons and ligaments. (Type I is the most abundant protein in the human body and the main protein found in all connective tissue.) Type II is commonly used to support joint, bone and cartilage health.
So which should you look for? New brand YouTheory, from long-time nutraceuticals distributor Nutrawise, says you don’t have to choose. The first manufacturer to provide all three types of collagen in a single supplement, the products have the potential to boost skin, bone and joint health. The perk for consumers, of course, is you don’t need to buy two or more supplements to reap collagen’s many potential benefits. It could also help get the attention of health-conscious consumers who haven’t yet embraced nutricosmetics but are considering the category.
Meanwhile, BioCell, a collagen ingredient supplier (found in many nutricosmetic products on the market) and manufacturer, gave its ingredient a branding makeover to accurately reflect the results of its recent proprietary research. According to the company, its type II collagen offers multiple benefits, including stimulating dermal fibroblasts, which are responsible for the production of skin (type I) collagen. “BioCell Collagen II” is ditching the “II” to become just “BioCell Collagen.”
New collagen sources for special diets?
If you’re vegetarian or vegan most collagen products, including topicals and ingestibles, are off limits—derived from chicken, bovine, or fish.
The alternatives: “vegetable collagen” made from acacia leaves and fruit, and new research has brought to light another (unlikely source) of collagen, tobacco plants. According to research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, five essential genes in transgenic tobacco plants can produce pro-collagen. You may start to see more of it from Israeli company CollPlant Ltd., which patented the ingredient.
In the meantime, many consumers will be seeking vegetarian or vegan ingredients that may offer similar beauty benefits.
Supplementing your supplement
As we wait on more research, you can also focus on supplements with ingredients that promote your own collagen synthesis. In addition to supplementing with collagen, look for vitamin C, lysine and hyaluronic acid. Some nutricosmetics, such as Reserveage Collagen Booster with Hyaluranic Acid and Resveratrol, combine them for you—again, so you get more out of your dollar.