You’ll likely recognise the word collagen from school biology lessons, as collagen is our body’s most prominent protein, found in skin, ligaments, and muscles.1 No one could accuse collagen of being a slacker, as this hard-working protein helps support the overall health of our skin and bones.2
In recent years, you may have seen fitness influencers or top models praising collagen drinks, claiming that a sip each morning plumps and perfects skin.
We’re here to investigate the truth behind the fad, so you can decide whether you should factor collagen drinks into your daily routine and beauty budget.
What are collagen drinks?
Collagen is the crucial protein which keeps our skin firm. Miserably, after the age of 20, we produce about 1% less collagen in our skin year on year, which thins the skin and contributes to wrinkles.3
Collagen drinks claim to combat collagen loss by wiring this potent protein, in the form of peptides, straight to the stomach. The idea is that it’ll give you a glow which begins on the inside.
The best bit? Modern science suspects it works! After ingesting a collagen drink, the absorbed collagen peptides make their way into the skin, where they remain for around 14 days.4
Benefits of collagen drinks
Ingesting collagen has been linked to positive benefits for skin and nails, including:
- Reduced wrinkles. Women who ingested collagen for 12 weeks had less visible wrinkle depth than a comparable group of women who had not.5
- Skin suppleness. A study found that a group of women who took collagen supplements for eight weeks enjoyed improved skin moisture quality and youthfulness, in comparison with a group who didn’t.6
- Improved collagen production. One scientific study proposed links between ingesting collagen and increased collagen production within the body.7
- Better nail growth. Researchers found that a group who took collagen supplements every day developed stronger, longer nails, more resistant to damage.8
- Increases other proteins which benefit the skin. Elastin and fibrillin are also essential for skin firmness and contribute to the youthful look of healthy skin. Ingesting collagen has been connected to increased elastin and fibrillin production, too.9
Be advised that many of these gleaming scientific studies, which sing the praises of collagen drinks, were sponsored by collagen drink manufacturers.
Potential collagen side effects
So far, research hasn’t revealed very many side effects of collagen supplements.
Sometimes collagen drinks include animal products, like eggs and shellfish. Make sure to study the label before purchase if you’re vegan or allergic to certain animal products, so you don’t ingest anything disagreeable.
Some takers have reported a sour taste in the mouth after taking collagen supplements, but the cause is unclear.10 A sour taste in the mouth is a known symptom of acid reflux, and collagen supplements have caused digestive discomfort among some takers (including heartburn), which may explain why.11,12
Last updated: 10 February 2021
Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.