Collagen supplements are said to give you bouncy, glowing skin. But, do they really work? Experts weigh in. By Dawn Chen
Collagen supplements have been gaining popularity in recent years. These beauty supplements, containing a concentrated amount of collagen, are typically enriched with vitamins too. You’re supposed to take them daily to boost your body’s production of collagen – those fibres that make your skin bouncy. Sounds promising, but do they really work?
Experts have their doubts. According to Dr Cheong Wai Kwong, a consultant dermatologist on Shape’s advisory board, there is little scientific evidence that oral collagen supplements are effective. While research has been done on the topic, he says the results have not been entirely convincing. “In one small-scale study, elderly women experienced an improvement in skin elasticity after taking eight weeks of a specific collagen peptide, but had no improvements in skin moisture levels. Owing to a lack of substantiation, I don’t advocate such supplements for skin health,” says Dr Cheong.
Freelance dietitian Mah Wai Yee agrees: “To date, there is no strong evidence that taking collagen supplements or collagen-rich foods such as gelatine or chicken feet helps give you a better complexion.” She adds, “There is no way for collagen to be transported directly to the skin when it is eaten. Your body breaks it down into amino acids during digestion just like any other protein.”
Still, there are women who take collagen supplements regularly and swear by them. Chen Miao Miao, a 25-year-old executive, is one such fan: “After taking a daily collagen supplement for a week, my skin turned brighter and clearer so I’m continuing with it.” Likewise, 48-year-old blogger, Sesame Chew, is a firm believer. “I’m currently taking one collagen supplement which contains 3,000mg of collagen and only 21 calories. I was sold when after one dose, I woke up the next morning to visibly more firm and bouncy skin,” she says.
The verdict: Give collagen supplements a try if you want, but be sure to follow the product’s dosage instructions, says Dr Cheong. Consider trying the following six which have passed our taste test (read: no strange, fishy smell).
1. Ultimate Collagen with UV Plus
Each sachet contains 5,000mg of collagen along with eight other skin-loving ingredients like vitamin C, antioxidants and carotenoid extracts. This is sweet, and is best mixed in with your favourite juice.
Price: $88 for 30 sachets
Where to buy: Robinsons
2. Dr. Wu Collagen with Maqui Berry
This fruity drink contains 10,000mg of collagen in addition to extracts of maqui berry and Barbados cherry – all purportedly high in antioxidants.
Price: $39.90 for six bottles
Where to buy: Watsons
3. Orbis Collagen 12,000
Besides 12,000mg of collagen, each bottle also packs in acai extracts as well as popular skincare nutrients like vitamin C, ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Pineapple juice in the formula gives it a hint of sweetness.
Price: $69.90 for 10 bottles
Where to buy: Orbis counters and stores
4. HABA Moist White Beauty
This not only contains 3,000mg of collagen, but also has blueberry honeysuckle extract which is said to have powerful brightening and anti-ageing properties.
Price: $49 for 10 bottles
Where to buy: HABA counters and stores
5. Brands Innershine Collagen 5000 Powder
With 5000mg of collagen as well as cherry extracts, vitamin C, ceramides and catechins (antioxidants also found in tea), this cherry-flavoured powder can be mixed into hot or cold beverages. We think it dissolves better in the former.
Price: $46 for 15 sachets
Where to buy: store.brandsworld.com.sg
6. Laneige Collagen Drink
Each bottle contains 5,000mg of collagen peptides sourced from tilapia fish, which is supposed to be more easily and quickly absorbed by the body because of its low molecular weight. This is also free from artificial colouring, preservatives and sugar.
Price: $52 for 10 bottles.
Where to buy: Laneige boutiques