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If there’s one Kardashian-approved beauty trend that has taken the beauty world by storm, it’s collagen supplements, the magic ingredient that claims to give you great glowing skin. The newest skincare ingredient is lighting up our screens in the form of smoothies, lattes, unboxings, and moisturisers. 

Now, let’s get to the basics. What is Collagen?

Collagen is one of the building blocks of our skin, an ingredient that helps us get glowing, plump, wrinkle-free skin. It makes up about 30% of the protein in our bodies and is known to keep our body function better. “As far as skin is concerned, collagen is the most abundant protein found, making up about 75- 80% of our skin. It provides the skin with strength and firmness. Elastin (the other fibre), on the other hand, allows the skin to expand/stretch and bounce back helping it become tighter. Imagine collagen to be the scaffolding for our skin,” explains celebrity dermatologist and founder, Dr Jamuna Pai of SkinLab

Why does one need Collagen at all?

“Collagen depletes by 1.1.5% of total collagen every year after the age of 25. By the time you’re 50, you lose half of the collagen produced by your body. External factors like an improper skincare routine, pollution, as well as sleep and stress also add to depletion. As you age, your body produces less collagen, which leads to loose skin and weak cartilage,” explains Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta of Issac Luxe

As we go from age 30 to our 40s and 50s, skin cells do not produce as much collagen, and when you add in lifestyle factors like smoking, sun exposure and diet, they add to the problem. That’s the reason one needs an extra shot of collagen that will take care of your skin, hair, and nails. Other benefits of collagen are anti-ageing, helping with dryness and adding hydration to the skin while tackling skin issues like acne and pigmentation. Collagen can also help you with other health issues like strengthening your joints, healing a leaky gut, and adding lean muscle mass.

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Where can you get Collagen from? 

There are a variety of foods, especially protein-rich food that helps with collagen. “Add a whole lot of fish, fruits, whole nuts, beans, etc. to your diet regularly to provide the body with amino acids,” adds Dr.Pai. 

Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, an ace dermatologist at Issac Luxe, gives you other options too. “Eat Vitamin C-rich foods, lots of cilantro (coriander), along with chicken, fish, egg whites, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and beans. Other direct sources you can try are gelatin and bone broth. It’s important to lower your sugar and refined carbs intake since they cause inflammation. Switch to low GI foods and make most of the ancient Indian grains. Other nutrients that aid the process of collagen production include zinc, vitamin C, and copper,” she adds.

How can one introduce or work with Collagen for your skin and hair?

It all starts with your diet. Collagen can be sourced in the form of a powder or just plain bone broth. Bone broth is a well-known source of Collagen and can reverse ageing too. The convenient form though is a powder of collagen peptides that can be added to your water, coffee, teas, drinks or your smoothies. Labels like Inja Wellness, Cureveda, Oziva and Vital Proteins are already in the market and making waves on social media already. 

“Collagen drinks and sachets help your body boost up collagen production. Skilixir and Liftage (consume one drink every day), they have hydrolyzed forms of collagen. However, the source is marine collagen or bovine collagen. GNC Neocollagen is another oral supplement alongside Nutrova Collagen Powder. You can also opt for vegetarian options in the market. These help delay signs of ageing and you get glowing after consistent usage,” adds Dr Geetika. 

Collagen supplements also help repair the damaged skin repair processes and increase skin elasticity. “However, there is debate whether this formulation works well in the form of oral supplements as it gets hydrolysed and broken down in the body. Further studies need to be done to find out the right formulation. Also since the supplements are derived from animal sources, some vegetarian communities cannot consume it, and there are chances of allergy to animal protein,” advises Dr Shefali Trasi Nerurkar, MD Skin, Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Trasi’s Clinic & La Piel

Apart from that, one can also look at dermatologist-backed treatments. “Treatments like micro-needling, derma roller, PRP, any thread lift procedure, any radio-frequency, and ultrasound skin firming treatment and similar ones further improve the collagen in the skin. These reverse the signs of ageing by only increasing the collagen in the skin, which it has lost over a period of time,” explains Dr Pai. Treatments are a sure-fire way to get your skin and hair receiving the benefits of Collagen. 

What should one look for in Collagen supplements? 

“There are two important things to look for in the right Collagen supplements. The first one is ‘Source’. Bovine is the most common source of Collagen available in the market. It comes from the bones of cows and buffaloes. It is the most common as the cost is low. The most effective and best source of Collagen is Marine/Fish Collagen. It is made from the skin and scales of fish. Not only is it safer than Bovine Collagen but it is also absorbed 1.5 times more efficiently by the body,” explains Aaditya Sheth, the business development manager at Inja Wellness, a homegrown supplement label, known for high-quality Marine Collagen sourced from Japan. The second being, quality. As Collagen gets more popular, there will be labels that cut corners. It is important to focus on the quality of supplements,” he adds. 

There are plant-based formulas available at Oziva and Cureveda, if you are looking for vegetarian options.

Does it have any side effects? 

Good quality Collagen has no side-effects. It has been deemed safe for consumption for an extended period of time. 

“In the skin, elasticity and hydration are required to maintain youthful skin texture. If we start losing it, then skin shows early wrinkling and looks more aged. When one takes collagen supplements regularly for more than three months, it starts showing results in terms of better skin texture and minimal tightness,” explains Dr Trasi. 

“Anyone over the age of 15 can have it and everyone over the age of 25, should have it. Despite it being safe, we do recommend that women consult their doctors before having it if they are pregnant or lactating,” adds Sheth.

Every supplement has to be whetted by your doctor or dermatologist. And you will see results in four-six weeks so, in any case, this is for the long haul.

Latha Sunadh
Deputy Editor
When she's not trying on a new serum, researching on yet another classic fragrance and sharing lip balms with her 5-year old daughter, Latha Sunadh keeps it reined in with a nice song and a good book. Special skills include obsessing over handmade, home-made and handcrafted luxuries.