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Collagen is an ingredient infamously known to help with the elasticity and strength of the skin, and is something naturally created within our own bodies to that end.  According to one dermatologist, Collagen makes up about 75% to 80% of our skin, reflecting its vital importance in skin health.  Of course, Collagen also exists in other areas of our body including but not limited to tendons, bones, and lignin, to name a few.

The production of this important component of our skin decreases as we age and become increasingly exposed to environmental damage, which is why there has been significant interest in Collagen as a means of supporting Skin Elasticity.  Collagen is one of those ingredients where Vegan alternatives are very difficult to find.

Ingredient Safety

Because knowing what goes into your skin is important.

Collagen is often represented as a skincare ingredient in its hydrolyzed form, known as Hydrolyzed Collagen. The difference between the hydrolyzed and non-hydrolyzed form is that the first form is that the hydrolyzed form is broken down into smaller particles for more effective absorption. Collagen, as an ingredient naturally produced within our own bodies and consumed as a part of our meals, it has generally been regarded as safe.

EWG: 1 (Low Hazard)
As of August 27, 2019, over 200 products have been listed as containing Hydrolyzed Collagen as one of its ingredients.  It is important to note that most products that do contain Collagen are unlikely to be present strictly in the plain ‘collagen’ form, but hydrolyzed collagen as noted above.
You can view EWG’s Hydrolyzed Collagen entry here.

US FDA:  Collagen is considered a dietary supplement thus falls outside of the regulation of the FDA, which is also held true for cosmetic items as well.  However, in the form of dermal injectables, the FDA has reviewed and approved a number of products to be used in a medical setting.  While there has been some research conducted with the efficacy of collagen consumption in respect to improvements in the skin and body at large, this is an area that still warrants and is continuing to undergo further research.  There is one unanimous agreement, however, is that collagen is highly important to skin health (particularly strength and elasticity).
Read more about the Efficacy of Collagen Peptides at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Website
Read more about the Efficacy and Safety of Collagen at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Website

Effect Types

Categorization of what the effects of Collagen may be when used on the skin

Elasticity: Representing the largest protein portion by far in the skin, upwards to 75%-80%, collagen serves an important role simply by looking at volume alone.  Continuing along this thought of importance, science has shown that collagen is directly linked to the elasticity and strength of the skin, which weakens over time with the gradually increasing loss of collagen.  

Anti-Wrinkle:  With the fact that collagen constitutes a major portion of our skin, it also serves the role of a ‘scaffold’ in which the skin is structured upon.  Over time, the loss of collagen can be correlated to the weakening of this scaffold, which manifests in the appearance and deepening of wrinkle over time.  This is part of the reason why some of the dermatology-approved treatment options (FDA approved) include collagen fillers.

References and Further Reading:
Effects of Collagen Peptides Intake on Skin Ageing and Platelet Release in Chronologically Aged Mice Revealed by Cytokine Array Analysis,
US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Collagen Skin Benefits,
Collagen || Skin Deep Cosmetics Database | EWG

Top 6 Benefits of Taking Collagen Supplements, HealthLine

Recommended products with Collagen