Should you take collagen for wrinkles? Learn why this supplement for better skin is so popular

  • 2 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

The marketing might convince you that you should take collagen for wrinkles. Learn how this popular supplement for better skin actually works.

Collagen for wrinkles

What is collagen, and how might it work for wrinkles?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. Think of collagen as a “glue” that helps hold the body together. It helps make up skin, bone, and connective tissue. Your body decreases collagen production with age, and the collagen breaks down more easily, contributing to changes in skin appearance, increasing joint pain, and thinning bones.

There are five main types of collagen, but “type I” and “type Il” are of most interest for skin and joint health and are the primary types used in supplements.

Type I collagen makes up 90% of the body’s collagen. It is found in tendons (connecting muscles to bones), ligaments (connecting bones), skin, and hair.

Type II collagen helps make cartilage, a strong yet flexible tissue that helps protect joints and bones.

What is in collagen supplements?

The allure of supple skin and minimizing the appearance of wrinkles has made collagen supplements wildly popular. You can find collagen supplements in flavored or unflavored powders, as well as in capsules.

Collagen is a unique form of protein abundant in the amino acids (protein building blocks) proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. In supplement form, collagen protein is broken down for better digestion and absorption. It may appear as "hydrolyzed" on product packaging.

Type I collagen is the most popular form of collagen supplements for skin health. Typically coming from beef and pork sources, it may also be listed as “bovine” or “porcine” collagen on supplement labels. Fish is another source of type I collagen. Type II collagen, often found in supplements used for joint health, usually comes from chicken sources.

Typical collagen supplements contain 5-20 grams of protein per serving and may include additional skin-supportive nutrients such as vitamin C.

Do collagen supplements really help the skin?

Rein in your expectations—adding a scoop of collagen to your morning smoothie will not make it look like you had an instant facelift. Yet, there is limited but promising evidence to support skin benefits from collagen supplements.

Researchers conducting an analysis of 19 studies of collagen use reported an increase in skin hydration and elasticity (ability to stretch and bounce back into place) and decreased wrinkles among participants taking collagen supplements compared to those taking placebos (supplements containing no collagen). Based on these results, researchers concluded that ingesting hydrolyzed collagen for 90 days effectively reduces skin aging.

Additional benefits to collagen supplements

In addition to healthy skin benefits, manufacturers promote collagen supplements for hair growth, wound healing, and easing joint and muscle pain. Still, there isn’t strong evidence of effectiveness for these uses yet.

Downsides to collagen supplements

Can't target specific areas

In an ideal world, the collagen from supplements would go directly to the areas we’d like to improve. However, we cannot target the fate of the collagen.

No plant-based option

Since collagen only comes from animal sources, collagen supplements for wrinkles or any reason are out if you follow a vegan diet. Eggshell-based collagen supplements may be an option for those who follow a vegetarian diet.


If you want to boost overall protein intake, collagen supplements are a rather expensive source. Other protein supplements, such as whey, soy, or egg protein, cost much less per gram of protein provided. Also, note that collagen is not a “complete protein” because it lacks the amino acid tryptophan.

Contamination risk

Given the lack of government regulation, the risk of contamination is a concern for any dietary supplement. In particular, the presence of lead and other heavy metals in collagen supplements is a possible risk.

More ways to support healthy skin

If you don’t take collagen supplements, you might include dietary sources, such as fish with bones, chicken skin, and bone broth to improve your complexion.

You can also support your body’s own collagen production by eating a healthy diet containing enough collagen building blocks: protein, vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese.

Tracking with MyNetDiary will help you ensure that you get enough of the nutrients you need to promote healthy skin and overall health.

Whether or not you take a collagen supplement, don’t forget other essential ways to protect your skin and avoid wrinkles: wearing sunscreen and not smoking.

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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