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Trending Now: Collagen Supplements for Anti-Aging

If you read beauty blogs and magazines, chances are you have heard of the latest craze to hit the anti-aging market — collagen supplements. Collagen supplements claim to make the skin look younger, may help with brittle nails, and may even reduce the appearance of cellulite. But do they really work? We examined the current scientific literature to determine if collagen supplementation can transform your skin and make you look years younger.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and is responsible for the structure, stability, and strength of the underlying tissues. The deposition of collagen into the skin gradually decreases over time as the skin ages, but it can be accelerated due to photoaging from excessive sun exposure. Aside from aging, the biggest reason individuals are deficient in collagen is a poor diet. Consuming animal and vegetable sources that are protein-rich, such as beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and dairy products can help ensure adequate intake of collagen.

The science:

Several limited studies have shown promising results in individuals taking collagen supplements for their skin. These studies have noted benefits in transepidermal water loss (skin hydration), skin elasticity, roughness, and wrinkles. Two separate studies showed a possible benefit of collagen supplementation in patients who have brittle nail syndrome as well as in women who suffer from moderate cellulite. Animal studies further revealed that administering collagen hydrolysates to mice for 6 months led to significantly increased collagen content and density of the skin.

Can I benefit from taking a collagen supplement?

If you are eating a healthy diet and feeding your body all of the nutrients it needs to make collagen, you probably do not need a supplement. However, as the body ages, you may no longer absorb or synthesize nutrients as efficiently as you used to. Taking a collagen supplement can make up for a deficiency if it is present. A 2017 study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry showed that collagen hydrolysates can be transferred through the bloodstream directly to the skin, which explains the probable pathway for the beneficial effects of taking a supplement. However, some scientists postulate that the skin is a much lower priority to the body than major muscles, like the heart, diaphragm, and brain, where collagen will be distributed first. Therefore, only patients with a significant deficiency will likely benefit from taking collagen supplements. In addition, the cost and bulk of supplementation may be prohibitive for patients. Supplements in pill form require swallowing six a day to get a 6-gram dose. Powders are often double the price of pills, running from $15-$40 for a month’s supply.

Bottom line:

Limited studies on the benefits of collagen supplements have shown some promise, however, questions remain regarding which patients will benefit and how much collagen is actually absorbed into the skin. Cost and administration may be factors in compliance. It should be noted that for individuals who wish to add more collagen to their diet, bone broth—while not in hydrolysate form—offers six grams of collagen-rich protein and may be a tastier way to get your collagen fix.

 

 

References

  1. Jhawar, N., Wang, J. & Saedi, N. Oral collagen supplementation for skin aging: a fad of the future? Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, August 14, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.13096
  2. Choi, F.D., Sung, C.T., Juhasz, M., Mesinkovska, N.A. Oral collagen supplementation: A systematic review of dermatological applications. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. 2019; 18(1): 9-16.
  3. Vollmer, D.L., West, V.A., & Lephart, E.D. Enhancing skin health by oral administration of natural compounds and minerals with implications to the dermal microbiome. J. Mol. Sci.201819(10), 3059.
  4. Hexsel, D., Zague, V., Schunck, M., Siega, C., Camozzato, F. & Oesser, S. Oral Supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology; August 2017, available online at: https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.12393.
  5. Krieger, E. Collagen supplements show early promise for skin and joints, but don’t stock up yet. March 26, 2018, The Washington Post. Available online at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/collagen-supplements-show-early-promise-for-skin-nails-and-joints/2018/03/23/1cd480e2-27d6-11e8-bc72-077aa4dab9ef_story.html
  6. Schunck, M. Zague, V., Oesser, S., & Proksch, E. Dietary supplementation with specific collagen peptides has a body mass index-dependent beneficial effect on cellulite morphology. Journal of Medicinal Food. Dec 17, 2015: Available online at: https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2015.0022
  7. Cruel, J. Does drinking collagen supplements actually do anything for your skin? Self, August 22, 2017. Available online at: https://www.self.com/story/collagen-supplements.
Older woman's hands on keyboard, aging hands

What Can Be Done For Aging Hands?

Did you know that your hands can reveal your true age, well before other areas of the body begin show signs of aging? While aging of the hands typically begins by age 50, with the first signs being discoloration and age spots, hands can start to age sooner if individuals are frequently exposed to the sun without the proper protection. By age 50-60, people also tend to lose volume in their hands, making veins and tendons more prominent and further contributing to aging hands. The good news is there are treatments available that can slow or reverse some of the signs of aging hands. Treatments can be tailored to the individual, depending on their specific concern:

Age spots:

Pigment-specific lasers are used to treat dark brown spots on the hand by delivering a beam of light that penetrates the skin surface. Following treatment, brown spots appear darker for about a week and then will scab, fall off, and turn pink as the skin begins to heal. One to two treatments are usually needed before improvement is noted. Results can last for years as long as proper care is taken to avoid sun exposure to these areas.

Topical retinoids and bleaching creams, like hydroquinone, can also be used to diminish the appearance of dark spots. They can be used either alone, or in combination with lasers, to reduce the appearance of age spots.

Volume loss:

Injecting fillers into the back of the hand is a quick, in-office procedure that can be achieved by using a non-allergic product called calcium hydroxylapatite. Results are immediate and can last for 1-2 years.

Applying a lotion or cream after washing your hands helps to trap water in your skin, and can provide a temporary plumping effect.

Rough, scaly patches:

If you have fair skin and spent a lot of time in the sun, you may notice rough spots or patches on your hands. These rough patches may be actinic keratoses (AKs), which are pre-cancerous growths that need to be evaluated and treated by a dermatologist. Liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy) can treat the individual AKs, while topical medicated creams or photodynamic therapy can treat the entire area at once.

Wrinkly “crepey” skin:

Applying sunscreen to your hands every day can prevent wrinkly skin on your hands. To treat wrinkles that are already there, your dermatologist may recommend a lotion containing retinol or glycolic acid or light chemical peels.

Radiofrequency treatments, which use heat directed deep into the skin, can help tighten loose skin. Most people only need 2-3 treatments on their hands to see results.

Brittle nails:

Brittle, aging nails typically present as lines running lengthwise on your nails, appearing like ridges. You may also notice that your nails peel or break easily. Certain activities such as cleaning with harsh chemicals or spending a lot of time with wet hands, can cause brittle nails, so it is important to wear rubber gloves when cleaning and doing dishes.

It is also important to moisturize the hands regularly with a urea- or petrolatum-containing moisturizer, preferably after every hand washing and before bed.

The nails reflect overall health. Changes in nail color or shape can signify a systemic problem that should be evaluated by a dermatologist.

Follow up:

It is important to follow up with your dermatologist after your treatments to help maintain your results as long as possible. Sun protection is essential at all times, and can be achieved by using a broad spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapplying regularly throughout the day. UV-protective driving gloves are also helpful in blocking out the sun’s harmful rays.

References:

American Academy of Dermatology. “What can make my hands look younger?” Available online at: https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/anti-aging-skin-care/younger-looking-hands

American Academy of Dermatology (August 2012). “Busy moms deserve a hand: Dermatologists offer tips to prevent premature aging of the hands.” Available online at: https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/busy-moms-deserve-a-hand-dermatologists-offer-tips-to-prevent-premature-aging-of-the-hands