To really understand what collagen cream is all about, you should first understand what collagen is and why it is important for our skin. Collagen is a protein. It is actually the most plentiful protein in our bodies.
You can find collagen in your bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, organs, intestinal lining, blood vessels, and skin.
How is collagen related to the skin? Well, when you have high levels of collagen in your skin, it will look more plump, firm, and even juicy.
Almost all the desirable characteristics of healthy skin come down to collagen content. Thus, skin aging and wrinkles are a product of lower levels of collagen.
Before you run off scared: it is normal to produce less collagen as we age. As the years go by, our collagen production lessens and the collagen we already have in our bodies starts to break down.
This will happen faster and have a more noticeable effect if you smoke, drink, and get a lot of UV exposure.
What part do collagen creams play in this story? Research cannot definitively conclude if collagen creams have an advantage over other types of products when it comes to helping reduce the signs of aging in skin. (1)
The theory goes like this: “manufacturers claim that giving your skin more collagen to work with will help it replenish what it’s lost, improving everything from hydration and elasticity to fine lines and wrinkles”. (1)
However, experts remain skeptical. Here’s why.
As you already know, collagen is the main structural protein present in human connective tissues. It is especially important for the development of our skin.
Most of the collagen present in our skin is in the dermis, the second layer right under the epidermis. The dermis is where collagen is produced.
Fibroblasts, skin cells located in the dermis, are in charge of synthesizing the collagen that holds the rest of the dermis together.
This is what gives our skin its underlying structure.
To answer the question of whether collagen cream is really effective or not, you also need to understand this. The structure of collagen is actually like a braid or rope. Individual amino acids link up and form long chains.
These chains bundle together and form thicker strands. These strands then twist and coil around each other and form triple helices. Those helices connect end to end and stack on top of each other to form clusters called fibrils.
Why should you know this? Because that way you can understand that collagen is a complex and massive molecule.
This is the reason why collagen creams formulated with pure collagen aren’t able to truly “replenish” the lack of collagen in a user’s skin.
The big braided molecules are too large to permeate a person’s epidermis and therefore can’t even reach the dermis which is where they are most needed.
That’s why collagen creams made with pure collagen may help moisturize the skin but don’t offer any extra benefits.
Suzan Obagi, M.D., UPMC dermatologist and American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery president explains it like this: “Your skin might feel softer and smoother [or] your wrinkles might look less prominent, but that’s all an illusion—that’s just what’s happening on the surface”. (1)
Of course, not all collagen creams have this issue. In order to solve this problem, most lotions, potions, and pills that claim collagen is their main ingredient actually contain hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides.
John Zampella, M.D., NYU Langone dermatologist, explains that the main difference is that hydrolyzed collagen has been broken down into smaller chains of amino acids called peptides.
Zampella says that some researchers and dermatologists think that these peptides “can traverse the skin cells in your outer skin barrier and make their way into the dermis, essentially [providing] the building blocks for fibroblasts to make new collagen”. (1)
However, this theory that the peptides could make their way into the dermis and eventually help increase collagen production hasn’t really been tested, let alone experimentally proven.
The use of collagen creams has no significant side effects, though. It can be used freely and safely.
If you are considering buying a collagen cream you should just keep in mind that perhaps the effects may not be as prominent as some ads might lead you to think.
Collagen cream can be beneficial to your health, the important thing is to have a clear perspective on the matter.
As Elizabeth Bradley, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine says: “Your body has been making collagen your whole life.
Products to boost your collagen levels may be helpful, but first, consider if your body needs more.” (2)
Best Collagen Creams
MARYANN Organics Collagen Cream
This collagen cream is good because it also has hyaluronic acid, which helps support cell renewal, boosts elasticity, and gives your skin an overall radiance. It is designed to feel lightweight on your skin because of its non-greasy formula.
This anti-aging cream is meant for women to use in order to help nourish, repair, and renew the epidermis. It can also be used as a neck firming cream.
This collagen cream is beneficial for all skin types. Its recommended use is to apply a thin layer twice a day. Maryann Organics Collagen Day & Night Cream also contains aloe vera, citric acid, and vitamin C, which combined with collagen and hyaluronic acid help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
This product is organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free. It is safe and eco-friendly. This collagen cream is not tested on animals.
The product will make your skin feel refreshed, boost its natural elasticity, and provide a visible, healthy radiance.
Advanced Clinicals Anti-Aging Collagen Cream
These products are great because they have a holistic approach to skincare. The Anti-aging Collagen Cream helps eliminate the fine lines and sagging skin on your body and face while the Collagen Lifting Body Oil helps to hydrate your skin and keep it firm.
It is delicate enough to be used in sensitive zones, like under your eyes.
It can also be used in the neck area and for the hands. This soothing collagen cream is also great to use in post-treatment and after surgeries to help reduce the appearance of scars.
In only seven days of use, you will notice a difference: it will replenish moisture in your skin while making it more supple and soft to the touch. It is easily and quickly absorbed by the skin.
It has a feathery, non-greasy feel. It also contains vitamin C, vitamin E, and natural botanic oils, which soak into dry skin and hydrate it noticeably.
Bloom Collagen Firming Cream
This collagen cream is great because it has a special formula coupled with aloe vera. It has especially good results on the skin. This anti-aging cream can be used for the face and the body.
The product will help soften the look of sagging skin and can help make your skin look naturally firm. This intensive moisturizing collagen cream is great for helping soothe and hydrate crepey skin, stretch marks, cellulite, and dry cracked skin.
This smooth cream is also oil-infused: its formula includes green tea extracts and other natural ingredients specifically targeted toward replenishing the skin’s natural properties. This collagen cream focuses on natural ways to make your skin look healthier.
The Bloom Collagen Cream for Body and Face is manufactured in the USA, paraben-free, and not tested on animals.
The quality speaks for itself: this collagen cream has a 100% money-back guarantee for buyers that are not quite satisfied with the product.
Mason Natural Collagen Beauty Cream
This collagen cream serves as a high-quality anti-aging moisturizer. It can help the wearer obtain plump, firm, and hydrated skin. Its special formula is infused with 100 % pure collagen.
The Mason Natural Collagen Beauty Cream’s main goal is to promote firm and tight skin in order for the user to feel youthful and healthy. To achieve this, the collagen cream supplies elasticity to the skin. This aids in giving the skin a youthful glow.
This cream’s ingredients are high quality and its formula ensures maximum effectiveness. It can be used as a day cream or a night cream. The amount and frequency of use will depend on the person’s skin type and skincare habits.
Collagen Face Moisturizer by L’Oreal Paris
This product is great for many reasons. It is backed up by L’Oreal, a well-known brand that always makes sure to deliver high-quality products to people who like to take care of their skin and overall beauty.
This collagen cream can provide your skin with a daily dose of intense hydration. Its formula is made so that this smooth cream may help to fill in the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
The Collagen Face Moisturizer by L’Oreal can help restore moisture for smoother, plumper, and hydrated skin. This cream is lightweight and non-greasy. It can be used as a day cream and as a night cream.
It delivers intense hydration and can be quickly absorbed without leaving a sticky film, no matter what type of skin you have. After only one week of using this collagen cream, your skin will feel smoother.
If you use it for four weeks or more, it will help your wrinkles appear more filled in.
Benefits Of Using Collagen Cream
1. Collagen cream may help improve your skin’s elasticity
The collagen contained in collagen cream can help prevent unwanted lines from developing on your face by maintaining its elasticity. If you maintain your skin’s natural elasticity, your facial expressions will take more time to form wrinkles.
This will help slow the appearance of aging and maintain a fresh, youthful appearance. Of course, skin elasticity will always reduce naturally as you age.
This is due to the fact that the collagen in your skin is breaking down. Applying collagen products may be a way to help slow down this natural process in a way that is not harmful to your health and wellbeing. (3)
2. Collagen cream may help in the treatment of scars
The collagen present in the face and body creams can help fill in some scars present in the user’s skin. This is most effective with acne scars. However, using a collagen cream may also help generate an effect of filling in scars caused by aging.
Remember that these marks left on the skin as a result of age are generated by the breakdown of collagen. It can also be used for scars or marks generated by medical treatment or intervention.
Applying collagen cream can help minimize these scars. It is important to note that the results will only last for as long as you continue to apply the collagen cream regularly. (3)
3. Collagen cream may act as a wrinkle filler
As you age, collagen production weans and the collagen you already have starts breaking down. Because of this, the facial expressions you have made throughout your whole life start to leave a mark–your skin’s elasticity drops to a point where it can’t bounce back as it did before.
This is when wrinkles begin to appear. If you are constantly exposed to sunlight and don’t wear sunscreen, the appearance of wrinkles will come much faster and the marks will be more pronounced (not to mention that prolonged sun exposure can cause spots and marks to appear on your skin).
If you apply collagen cream with regularity, it will help give the appearance that the wrinkles and lines in your face are filled in.
This happens because particles of collagen may be deposited in the crannies between your skin and give the effect of “filling them up”.
This effect, however, is not permanent. In order to maintain these results, you would have to apply the collagen cream on a regular basis. (3)
1. Collagen may cause allergic reactions in the user
Like practically any other product, collagen may cause an allergic reaction in certain people. However, it is important to note that it is not the collagen itself that causes most allergic reactions to collagen products.
The allergic reactions are produced by the source of the collagen.
For example, if you are allergic to fish you should think twice before getting a product with collagen from fish sources.
If you are going to use any kind of collagen supplement and you have allergies, you should exercise caution at this particular point.
It could help if you know the main sources of collagen. If a product uses type 2 collagen, the source is likely from chicken.
Instead, if the product uses type 1 and types 3 it can be from a number of sources, such as bovine, fish or egg whites. However, some products only list the collagen type and not the source. This can make it a bit tricky to identify the sources on some occasions. (4)
Frequently Asked Questions
Can collagen creams smooth wrinkles? Collagen creams, as we explained before, work mainly on the surface of the skin. This means they don’t go all the way down to the dermis.
So, collagen creams work like other moisturizers, which mainly slow the rate of water loss from the skin. This helps keep the skin supple and hydrated.
It is important to remember that a moisturizer –with or without collagen– cannot penetrate the dermis.
These products aren’t designed to be absorbed too deeply. Even though they can help and give the appearance of filling up wrinkles if used regularly, collagen cream cannot undo the effects of collagen loss.
This means that a collagen cream cannot make wrinkles disappear once they are formed.
Can collagen cream really help your skin cells produce more collagen? Collagen, as we mentioned before, is produced in the dermis. The collagen cream is applied in the epidermis.
Pure collagen strands are too big to permeate the epidermis. Smaller, processed collagen may reach the dermis, but it would be only a portion and there is no conclusive evidence to support this claim.
So no, collagen cream doesn’t really help your skin cells produce more collagen. It has other benefits, which are more oriented toward helping keep your epidermis healthy, hydrated, and supple.
How do I know if I am not producing enough collagen? The average person usually produces all the collagen they need if they maintain a varied, balanced diet.
Protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, dairy, and beans can be especially useful when it comes to producing collagen.
However, if you’d still like to know, there are a couple of indicators that might give you an idea of whether you are producing enough collagen or not.
You can’t exactly measure your collagen level, but you can tell when it’s falling. You should especially look out for wrinkles and crepey skin, for stiffer, less flexible tendons and ligaments, for shrinking and weakening muscles, for joint pain or osteoarthritis due to worn cartilage, and lastly for gastrointestinal problems due to thinning of the lining in your digestive tract.
It is important to remember that collagen naturally decreases as you get older. It is a normal process. The indicators mentioned above will gradually begin to happen to you as you age.
You can play a part in reducing the adverse side effects of aging by keeping a healthy diet, exercising, and adopting good habits. However, if you show one of the mentioned indicators suddenly, a loss of collagen could be playing a part in it.
Dr. Bradley, MD, Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, says that “aside from aging, the top reason people don’t have enough collagen is poor diet.
Your body can’t make collagen if it doesn’t have the necessary elements.” So it is important to have a healthy, varied, and balanced diet. (1) (2)
If collagen creams aren’t as effective as some ads make them sound… should I just throw them all out? Applying a collagen cream might not make a huge difference in your skin compared to other kinds of moisturizers, but it’s also pretty harmless.
If you like your collagen cream and you aren’t experiencing any negative side effects, you can happily keep on using it. If you are considering buying a collagen cream for the first time, keep the option on the table.
It will be as good as any other moisturizing cream and you would have a chance to try it and see if it is especially effective on your skin.
However, if your goal is to minimize collagen loss, a collagen cream won’t be enough. You can couple the use of a collagen cream with other options that have been proven very effective. Dr. Zampella, M.D., NYU Langone dermatologist, insists that sunscreen is the number one option to help prevent collagen loss. “The number one thing is sunscreen—you obviously want to prevent your [existing] collagen from being broken down,” Dr. Zampella explains.
The other effective measure for keeping your collagen levels high is having a good, balanced diet, as we explained in the previous FAQ. (1)
Collagen creams are a great product. They can be greatly useful for keeping your skin hydrated, smooth, and supple.
They are especially effective when they have other skincare ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin C, or vitamin E in their formulas.
However, collagen creams cannot be used as a way to restore the collagen that the body naturally starts to lose as it ages.
If your main aim is to maintain your collagen levels, the best things you can do are: maintain a healthy and balanced diet, use sunscreen regularly, and give up on unhealthy habits like drinking or smoking.
If your goal is to consume a product with collagen to help with your health, your best shot might be a collagen supplement instead of a collagen cream.
That being said, a collagen cream is as good as any other moisturizing cream in the market. If you want to add a collagen cream to your beauty routine, you will feel the difference in your skin.