• Stephanie Drax

Getting Your Glow Back With Collagen

My three-year-old son’s cheeks are currently at their most peachy – smooth, plump, supple and gleaming. So soft and dreamy to the touch, caressing them by the hour has become part of my self-care routine.

That’s collagen creating that delicious effect.

Collagen plumps up skin cells giving support and elasticity, making skin firm and bouncy. The bad news is that as we age our production of it slows and we can kiss goodbye to that youthful glow.

It’s said that the Japanese were the first to come up with the concept of collagen beauty food to recapture young, fresh skin. Now collagen supplements are aplenty, promising not only skin improvement but benefits for the whole body. We’ve listed a few of our favourites below, and asked Erica Rodriguez, a nutritional therapist and skin health specialist, to explain what to look for.

What is Collagen?

Erica Rodriguez of Naturally Nourished

“Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in the human body - nearly 33% of our protein comes from collagen. It’s essential for healthy skin, hair, strong connective tissue, muscle growth and repair, joints, tendons and it’s also very good for strengthening the gut lining” explains Erica.

From the age of 25, collagen levels begin to decline. Throw perimenopause into the mix with its plummeting oestrogen, and we tank to two-thirds of our collagen levels: “As we approach our 30’s, we start to see a loss of volume in the skin,” says Erica, “Collagen accounts for 70% of the weight of the dermis (skin) and provides smoothness and elasticity. So, with the natural breakdown of collagen and the decline of collagen production, it will lead to wrinkle formation and the appearance of aged skin. Also, we might not recover from injuries as quickly as we once did, and wound healing starts to slow down as well.”

Choosing Your Collagen.

Thankfully, we can claw back collagen by taking supplements that are available in various forms – think powder, pills, chews and liquid. All are not created equal, however, says Erica: “Collagen is a large molecule – 300,000 dalton - and is packed together like a ball of wool. This makes it difficult for our digestive enzymes to break it down completely, so it needs to be unravelled first, or ‘hydrolysed’ into peptides. Only then can our enzymes break it down into bioavailable components that can be absorbed through the intestine, into the bloodstream and to the joints, skin, hair, nails and brain etc.”

Here Are Our Five Favourites:

True Collagen Powder by Ancient & Brave - £27

Ancient and Brave contains peptides in 5000 daltons, so the ‘snips’ in their collagen are readily absorbable. Each seductive gold-etched glass jar contains 30 servings of sustainably sourced grass-fed bovine collagen powder that’s pure, high quality and hydrolysed.

How to Take: Simply scoop into smoothies, sprinkle on food or add into hot or cold drinks.

Taste: Completely disappears into morning tea with zero taste.

FYI: Ancient & Brave also has three forms of Collagyn - a vegan alternative made with wild-harvested Hebridean British seaweed and formulated to match the amino acid profile of bovine collagen. Other delicious brews and blends in the Ancient & Brave range include Cacao & Collagen and Coffee & Collagen.

Skinful Bare Biology Marine Collagen Powder + Vitamin C - £45

The vitamin C in Skinful comes from acerola cherry (your recommended daily intake in one dose) and the collagen is derived from sustainably sourced wild cod. The added vitamin C is a bonus for skin health because it helps our bodies to synthesise collagen, and it also serves as a potent antioxidant, too.

How To Take: a tablespoon of the powder can be added to water and then drunk, or it can be sprinkled into smoothies, milkshakes, porridge, yoghurt or overnight oats.

Taste: It has a yummy natural strawberry and rhubarb flavour and works well with sweeter foods and drinks.

FYI: Bare Biology also has non-tasting collagen and, as it's not damaged by heat, it can be added to protein balls, muffins and cookies, as well as soups and stews.

Absolute Collagen - £32.99

Each 10ml sachet packs 8000mg of hydrolysed marine collagen - extracted from cold-water fish - with added Vitamin C.

How to Take: A thick liquid you can drink straight from the sachet or slip into drinks and food.

Taste: A tangy lemon flavour that took some getting used to. I dissolved it in warm water, to begin with, but after a few days, I was sucking it straight from the packet.

FYI: The fans of the product – Absoluters – flood the website with glowing faces and equally glowing reviews.

Collagen& by Ellactiva - £29.99

Sugar-free soft chews that contain Elleactiva’s optimised Bioactive Collagen Peptides. They come in three formats with specific blends of vitamins and minerals: Collagen& Immunity, Collagen& Energy and Collagen& Healthy Bones.

How to Take: You can take up to three chews daily, delivering a maximum dosage of 2500mg.

Taste: There are 3 flavours to choose from: Blackcurrant (with Immunity), Zingy Orange (with Energy) and Creamy Caramel (with Healthy Bones). Blackcurrant is my clear flavour favourite.

FYI: The addition of dietary prebiotic fibres – Inulin and FOS - help to nourish the gut microbiome.

Hunter & Gather Collagen Peptides - £19.95

H&G’s collagen is produced using an innovative enzymatic process without the use of solvents, GMO's or other contaminants, ensuring you benefit from all 18 amino acids that collagen peptides provide. Their pouch packaging is plastic-free and fully recyclable.

How To Take: A powder to be added to hot or cold drinks.

Taste: Unflavoured, so a neutral taste.

FYI: Hunter & Gather - a brand dedicated to healthy, nutritionally dense foods - also offer Marine Collagen, a powder produced from wild-caught North Atlantic white fish.

Erica Rodriguez specialises in skin health and offers a bespoke skin nutrition program. Find out more at www.naturallynourished.co.uk and @naturallynourishedlondon