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Everything You Need To Know About Collagen Beauty Supplements

We asked four doctors to give us collagen 101.
PHOTO: Shutterstock

Any beauty addict knows that a glowing complexion takes more than just a tried-and-tested skincare regimen—you have to think about what you put inside your body as well. In addition to eating healthy, beauty supplements, which are marketed as vitamin-packed powders and capsules that specifically serve to clear, tone, and nourish your skin, are another thing you can add to your daily routine. But amidst all the placenta, green tea, biotin, and glutathione supplements, the most popular and recommended one here in the Philippines is collagen.

A natural type of protein that is found in our bodies, collagen is the "main structural component" that provides firmness, smoothness, and shape to our skin—playing a role in replacing and restoring dead skin cells. But as we age, our bodies produce less of it, leading to wrinkles. Luckily, our bodies can continuously produce more, given the right dose of ingredients. 

To give you a better understanding of how the ingestible supplements work, we asked four experts to weigh in: Dr. Vicki Belo of Belo Medical Group, Dr. Ross Anne Perez of Oracle Aesthetic Clinic, Dr. Kristine Batungbacal of Flawless Face And Body Clinic, and Dr. Stephen Lacson of HOO Dermatology. Read on!

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What is collagen made of?

Our bodies contain 28 types of collagen, but the most abundant is Type 1 as it makes up to 80 percent of our skin's dermis layer. With that in mind, Dr. Lacson stated that you can actually "get" this type of collagen from animals when you eat them. The doctors we interviewed all said that collagen beauty supplements are made from amino acids or hydrolyzed (broken down) proteins taken from various meat, poultry, and fish sources.

When collagen is hydrolized, tiny amino acids could be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and used as the building blocks of new collagen. [via].

According to Dr. Batungbacal, most supplements are manufactured together with other supporting nutrients. She shared some examples: "Vitamin C, which stabilizes collagen formation, and hyaluronic acid, which hydrates the skin. Some even add Coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10), which is another antioxidant."

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What are the effects of taking collagen supplements for the skin?

Collagen supplements improve your skin's elasticity and moisture levels. Dr. Batungbacal said, "While other known supplements, like multivitamins, help in the wellness of one's body, collagen supplementation is geared towards the health of our skin, hair, nails, and even joints."

If you're wondering how taking collagen powders and capsules is different from just getting it from the food you eat, Dr. Belo explained that supplements are easily digested compared to the collagen in food, which contain long chains of amino acids and will take longer to break down and be absorbed.

But just because you take these supplements doesn't mean your skin will instantly look five to 10 years younger.

Dr. Perez and Dr. Belo recommended taking it in tandem with other anti-aging skincare products and vitamins. Dr. Belo even shared that collagen supplements are best taken in the morning with 1,000 mg of vitamin C—the ascorbic acid helps in the synthesis of collagen, making the two the perfect pair.

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One thing you should always take note of, or be cautious about, is that since we all have different skin types, diets, and lifestyles, the use of these beauty supplements could trigger an allergic reaction or they just may not work for you. (For tips on buying these supplements, read below.)

But if you're thinking, "What if I suddenly stop taking them? Are there any side effects?" Lucky for you there aren't any! All four doctors concurred that these types of supplements don't cause any dangerous side effects if you were to stop drinking them, because you'd still get collagen from the meals you eat, albeit in smaller doses. 

Tips For Buying Collagen Supplements

Dr. Batungbacal recommended finding ones that are sourced from fish, which are normally labeled as Piscine. She, along with Drs. Perez and Lacson, also stated that you should look at the supplements' supporting nutrients, since vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are "key ingredients [that] work well with collagen to provide faster results."While capsules are more affordable, Drs. Batungbacal, Lacson, and Belo shared that powders have a higher absorption rate (95 percent). If you don't like the taste, you can easily mix it into your coffee, juice, or smoothie.

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How much do I need to spend on collagen supplements?

A box of collagen capsules can cost at least P600, while a box of powdered collagen could reach up to P4,500. It's important to remember that these prices may vary among drugstores, clinics, and supermarkets. Plus, it depends on the additional nutrients in the collagen and of course, the brand.

The bottom line

Collagen supplements will not make you look like you're 22 again; you still need a solid skincare routine and a healthy diet to look your best. The supplements DO offer a lot of help, however, as they keep wrinkles at bay and provide hydration. Consider it a holistic approach to skincare. 

Dr. Perez shared that it gained popularity over the years because it offers an affordable and non-invasive approach to maintaining one's youthAnd thanks to the emergence of the Internet and social media, as well as word of mouth and research, Pinays now have more options than ever to look and feel good in their own bodies.

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