Collagen, a naturally occurring polypeptide, is found in our skin and connective alongside our animal counterparts. As a structural and strength-giving necessity, it makes up to around 80% of our skin in our early twenties. So what makes this molecule worthy to include in specifically skincare if our bodies naturally produce it? And well, just as all good things have to come to an end, so does, alas, our collagen production.
Collagen is something when applied to the skin allows for fantastic moisture. I love it as a moisturizer. But, unfortunately, as we all know too well – the molecule is too large and will not readily absorb into your skin. Meaning, you can’t apply “new collagen” to replenish your “old collagen.” Well, alright then. Am I able to eat it? Can I snort it? Can I inject it? In short, just because somethings edible, doesn’t mean you should eat it. No, not unless you want a bloody nose. And, yes? Injecting is possible. However, the process of injecting your own collagen back into your skin is a pricey one. It is an option, however, not necessarily meant to restore aged skin, but to help with acne scaring in a process called LAVIV. So really, not not the fountain of youth we were originally looking for.
In reality, what can collagen, or hydrolyzed collagen, do for you and you skincare goals? Well, this bad boy of a molecule is a humectant, meaning it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water and retain it’s own natural properties. There’s a huge misconception out there that collagen creams, serums, masks, and pills will be able to restore what is already lost. And in my opinion, it’s borderline false advertising! But, as it is a humectant, it is able to pull water from it’s surroundings (or even air in some cases) and perpetually moisturize one’s skin. However, the caveat being, if there is too much of a humectant in a solution (as in pure collagen or glycerin), it will draw moisture out from your skin to the chemical itself. Now, don’t be alarmed! Unless you are applying something like pure glycerin to your face, this will probably never be a concern for you. But that’s why when you use a pure glycerin soap you’ll always feel a little dry after, yet it is still a great ingredient to look for when reading your labels. In my opinion, this ingredient is something every moisturizer and sheet mask should have — as it does not irritate your skin compared to other more aggressive ingredients.
Long story short, don’t expect any products with collagen to well, give you back any you’ve potentially lost over the years, but do expect it to maintain moisture in your skin, as it is a fairly harmless ingredient.