You’ll have seen these promises time and again: if you do/eat/take this, you’ll feel more energised and your skin will glow. The latest product promising real results? Collagen supplements. Which makes sense, given that collagen is one of the major components when it comes to maintaining elasticity and hydration, and our synthesis of the stuff steadily starts to decline at around the age of 25.
Collagen is definitely something you want a healthy amount of, as its benefits are myriad and extend far beyond having a good complexion. As a complex protein, it provides structural integrity and support to the health of muscles, fingernails, bones, fascia, teeth, blood vessels, and hair.
But does the notion that a supplement can replenish dwindling collagen production hold up under scrutiny? The answer seems to be a resounding maybe. There is increasing evidence emerging in trials that shows collagen supplements can, for example, improve skin quality and reduce inflammation around the body as well as promoting general health, but they must be formulated well to reap benefits.
Luigi Martini, professor of pharmaceutical innovation at King’s College London, explains that “the issue is that collagen is a protein, and your body will digest a protein.”
It’s also worth remembering that when it comes to supplementing, as in all things nutrition, thinking holistically is the most sensible and balanced approach. Nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik suggests that the first step to upping collagen is to “try a bioavailable form like a bone broth, while all vitamin C-rich foods will encourage our bodies to create collagen.”
On the other hand, Pam Marshall, clinical aesthetician at Mortar & Milk, posits the idea that taking a collagen supplement solely to up skin bounce is flawed, because “we have to remember that not only is our skin the largest organ, but it’s also the last in the queue to receive nutrients, meaning it’s highly unlikely that a collagen supplement will reach our skin.”
In the case of collagen supplements, it seems that the best route is to take them to support overall health with fringe benefits of juicy skin and stronger nails, and to opt for those which are geared towards upping the native production of collagen or those which mimic food sources of collagen. So without further ado, here’s our round-up of the best on offer.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Ingenious Beauty ultimate collagen+ 2nd generation
These clever capsules – which have been double-blind placebo controlled trialled – don’t release their ingredients in the stomach, but instead dissolve and release a high load of collagen in the small intestine. Professor Martini explains that the nature of the capsules means that they bypass being digested, getting them to where they need to be. Take three a day on an empty stomach – we found taking them right before bed was easiest, so they could get to work overnight when we wouldn’t be eating.
Bare Biology skinful pure marine collagen powder
A collagen that has a near-identical chemical make-up to skin itself, this marine source is designed to be added to tea, coffee or your food without altering the flavour. We found it worked really well mixed into yoghurt with some berries and nuts on top to maximise the skin benefits.
Bare Biology skinful marine collagen plus vitamin C
Add vitamin C to marine-sourced collagen, and you get a dose of immunity as well as upping your body’s own ability to produce collagen. This is the ideal one to take throughout winter when you are fortifying your immunity and need an extra hand to keep your skin healthy while the central heating is stealing its hydration.
Wild Nutrition food-grown skin hair & nails
Containing Vitamin C to prompt synthesis along with other food-grown vitamins and minerals including zinc, Vitamin E, and biotin, this is a comprehensive approach to supporting collagen-production and during a trial of it, we noticed our skin and nails were much more robust (our nails usually split at the top and need trimming but they stopped doing this entirely after a week on these).
Marie Reynolds coll-force
Harnessing the most readily-absorbed marine collagen, this supplement also contains vitamins and minerals to bolster the body, ward off oxidative stress and encourage healing. Our skin looked more rested after three weeks of taking two capsules daily.
The verdict: Collagen supplements
While we noticed our skin looked more bouncy and glowing after trialling each of the above, two stood out for ease of use. The first is Wild Nutrition (£32.00, Wildnutrition.com) because we liked the collagen-boosting combination of vitamins (and it meant we could cross zinc and vitamin C off our vitamins list; win win), and the second is the Bare Biology powder (£35, Planetorganic.com), because it felt like no effort whatsoever to sprinkle a little into our food daily and reap the benefits without much effort on our end.
We’ve also rounded up the 10 best hyaluronic acid serums and creams for hydrated skin
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.