Collagen: A Beginner’s Guide to Your Skin’s Basic Building Block

You may have seen collagen as a prominent ingredient in many beauty products, from moisturizers to collagen supplements. What is it, and why are we seeing it in so many beauty products? Let’s break it down.

What is Collagen: The most abundant protein in our body

Collagen is the main structural protein in our connective tissue, which is the tissue which comprises most of our skin and joints. It is the most abundant protein in the body, and is also a significant component of blood vessels, bone and teeth. There are different subtypes of collagen, but 90% of the collagen in the body is Type 1 collagen, also known as fibrallar collagen.

Collagen is responsible for the youthful “glow” that our skin has in our teens and twenties. It is at this time that we have the most collagen we are ever going to have. Starting in our thirties, collagen levels start to reduce, and this is partially responsible for the effects of skin aging.

The premise behind the addition of collagen to beauty products and collagen supplements is that adding collagen back into the body will help to combat some of these aging effects by replenishing some of the collagen that we have lost. Most beauty products add collagen topically through the surface of the skin, which has benefits but they are limited to the upper dermis of the skin.

The benefits of hydrolyzed collagen supplements

Collagen supplements are taken internally, and hydrolyzed collagen is the liquid form of collagen that is found in collagen drinks. While collagen tablets are available, these stay in the digestive system longer and don’t get into the skin and hair as quickly as liquid hydrolyzed collagen.

When hydrolyzed collagen is digested, it becomes immediately available in the bloodstream as collagen peptides. These small molecules are what allow it to have what is termed a higher “bioavailability” in that it can be of use to skin and hair quickly after ingestion.

Why are we seeing so many collagen products?

Asian beauty products have long contained collagen as an ingredient. Globalization has encouraged their adoption in Western culture. Korean beauty products, in particular, have become extremely popular within the past few years. Collagen drinks are also very popular in Asia, and have been sold there for a long time.

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