Question & Answer

Do collagen supplements make a difference in skin ageing?

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The Evidence

  • Collagen is a key component of the body that provides strength and flexibility to the skin. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, leading to the appearance of wrinkles and a decrease in skin firmness.
  • It has been claimed that using collagen supplements may reduce skin ageing.
  • We found four systematic reviews about the effect of collagen supplements on the skin:
    • The first systematic review found that taking hydrolyzed (broken down) collagen (HC) supplements or collagen peptides can help reduce signs of ageing in the skin,  such as wrinkles, and improve skin hydration and elasticity by a small amount. However, this effect was only seen if the supplements were taken regularly. The studies included in this review compared different types of supplements, and the methods used to measure the effects varied, making it hard to compare them directly. The study also noted that people with healthy lifestyles, including a good diet and drinking enough water, might see better and quicker improvements in their skin when taking collagen supplements compared to those with less healthy habits.
    • The second systematic review reported that collagen supplements consistently improved skin ageing signs in all types of people, whether they had healthy skin or not. The studies included in this review were generally run well but there is a risk of bias because either the participants or the scientists involved in the study knew what the participants were taking.
    • The third systematic review suggests that collagen supplements for short-term and long-term use seem to improve skin elasticity, moisture and collagen density, and haven’t shown any side effects yet.
    • Lastly, another systematic review showed that taking hydrolyzed collagen (HC) supplements can improve skin hydration and elasticity. Longer use of these supplements tends to have better effects on skin moisture and flexibility compared with short-term use. However, more extensive and higher-quality studies are needed to fully understand the benefits of these supplements, as there might have been problems with how the studies in this review were run.
  • In conclusion, several systematic reviews reported that collagen supplements may have a positive effect on skin ageing, especially when used long-term. However, these findings often come from small clinical trials, so we can’t draw exact conclusions. We need larger and higher quality studies to be sure.

Guidelines and recommendations

  •  We did not find any guidelines regarding the effect of collagen supplements on skin ageing published by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), or Health Service Executive (HSE).

Things to Remember