The Ultimate Guide to Collagen – Definition, Benefits, Uses & Tips
If you are in touch with the beauty world in any way (TV, social media, internet browsing, etc.), chances are you’ve heard of collagen. Years ago, collagen was just that “stuff” that celebrities got injected into their lips for a bigger pout. We’ve come a long way since then. Lip injections have gotten more advanced and affordable, but collagen has also become much more diversified, available, and sought after.
Whether you have dabbled with adding collagen into your routine, or you’re just a little curious, it’s important to understand what collagen actually is, what it’s used for, and how you can use it in your routine in a beneficial way. So, here is the ultimate guide to all of your questions about collagen and what you need to know before you try it out!
What is collagen?
Many people are not aware that collagen is actually a protein. The collagen protein is made naturally in the body, and acts as the “glue” that holds your bones, joints, skin, and muscles together. It is found in many other parts of the body as well, and is the most abundant protein that the body produces.
One of the most important things that the collagen protein does for our bodies (and part of the reason it has become so popular lately) is that it provides structure to our skin. Scientists and dermatologists will tell you that collagen is an extremely abundant protein in the body, but one that weakens as we age. The body produces less and less collagen protein as we grow older, and this is why we might notice our skin changing year after year. These noticeable changes include things like wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging of the skin.
Another important place that the collagen protein is present in our bodies is in cartilage. Because of this, collagen is a crucial part of joint health and bone health.
What are the benefits of collagen?
Here are a few of the best collagen benefits for your health and wellness:
- Studies have shown that collagen can help increase and strengthen muscles when combined with exercise and/or strength training.
- Regular collagen production (and maintaining these levels as we age) is very important for healthy bones and joints.
- Collagen has been proven to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, helping skin appear healthy and youthful.
How can I incorporate collagen into my routine?
There are a multitude of ways to incorporate collagen into your diet and routine, and companies are rolling out new products every day! Here are a few simple ways to add collagen into your daily routine:
Collagen supplements are hitting the beauty and health/wellness industries hard right now—in a great way! Not only can you purchase collagen supplements in pill form, but now it comes in a variety of powders, beverages, and even food! Here are a few of the ways I love adding different types of collagen supplements to my routine:
- I add a scoop of collagen powder to my coffee every morning.
- I chew gummy hair, skin & nails vitamins every morning that contain collagen and biotin. (Check out this post for more vitamins for hair, skin & nail health.)
- In the warmer months, I add collagen powder to my smoothies. They have flavored and unflavored, depending on your preference!
- When I’m baking, I add collagen powder to things like brownies, cookies, energy bars, etc. for an added boost!
As a beauty blogger, I’ve been experimenting with collagen in my skincare for a few years now. As I’ve said, we have come a long way since collagen was just for lip injections! You can now purchase a wide variety of skincare products that either contain collagen or moisturize for similar antiaging benefits. (Note: Applying collagen topically has not proven to affect the natural production or growth of collagen in the skin or body.) Here are some of the best collagen skincare products that I’ve used and would recommend:
- Collagen-infused body scrubs: I love that these minimize the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks!
- Retinol or Retinoid serums and creams: Stimulates collagen production in the skin!
- Getting a chemical peel facial: Stimulates self-healing collagen production and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines!
- Vitamin C serums and creams: Lightly stimulates collagen production and moisturizes for anti-aging effects!
- At-home collagen face masks: Who doesn’t love a good face mask on Self-Care Sundays?!
DO: When eating chicken or pork, be sure to eat the skin, too! While it can be high in fat, it also contains a large amount of collagen. Bone broth also contains collagen.
DON’T: Eat too many refined carbs. They can deter collagen production in the body.
DO: Eat large amounts of Vitamin C, found in foods like peppers, strawberries and citrus. Vitamin C will encourage the production of collagen in the body!
DON’T: Eat a large amount of sugar. Like refined carbs, sugar gets in the way of proper collagen production.
- Avoid smoking, as this reduces collagen production.
- Don’t spend too much time in the sun, and if you do, wear sunscreen. UV rays can reduce collagen production and damage skin.