You’ve probably seen collagen products on your social feeds, whether in ads or placed carefully on an influencer’s recommendations list. They can take the form of drinkable tonics, smoothie powders, or skincare products, and their purported efficacy has long been dissected and debated. Does it really plump wrinkles and create bouncy, fresh, basically teenaged skin? And what even is it, a chemical?
“Collagen is one of the most produced proteins in your body,” explains Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon based in New York City. “It helps with muscle strength, skin elasticity, and a more youthful appearance.”
Now for some less-fun news: “As you age, your body begins to decrease the amount of collagen it produces, resulting in weaker bones and fine lines and wrinkles,” Engelman says. While it’s not a magic fountain of youth in a jar, adding collagen — which can be either animal-derived or vegan — to your routine isn’t totally without any beauty benefits. “Applying collagen topically can be a great source of hydration, but there is little evidence to show that it has any anti-ageing benefits,” says Engelman. “The molecular makeup of collagen prevents it from penetrating the skin effectively.”
Ahead, we’ve scoped out the best-reviewed products so you can incorporate the powerhouse moisturiser ingredient into your own beauty routine.