The Collagen Call  

Oral collagen is a skincare staple now, with everyone mooning over its invisible wand of youth

Everyone wants their skin to look taut and supple, wrinkle-free and moist, youthful and glowing. Following the manufactured hoopla around face yoga, emerges another contender for the youth-inducing quickie. Oral collagen is a skincare staple now, with everyone mooning over its invisible wand of youth. So, with all the shrieks and reels, even boozie concoctions laced with inserts, and the palpable buzz around the Big C, is it simply a myth or truly magic?

Protein Punch
The word collagen is derived from the Greek word ‘kolla’ meaning glue. “It is a protein of our body comprising one-third of the body’s protein. The primary component of our skin, bones, muscles and ligaments,” explains Dr Madhuri Agarwal, Founder and Medical Director, Yavana Aesthetics Clinic, Mumbai. “In skin, collagen is found in the dermis and accounts for 70-80 percent of its dry weight giving structural strength and toughness.” But all of us have brought in secret ninjas in cod liver oil capsules, and folic acid supplements as skin and hair glow getters. The coveted fix appears in powders, pills and creams, yet does it make us look dewy and darling?

Just like topical application of serums and creams yields low impact, as opposed to ingestion, the localised smearing of c-creams is useless as the molecules are a bit too beefy to muscle their way into the dermis—the home of our natural collagen that, alas, dissipates with increasing years (unlike the other skin component elastin) and makes way for sagging and ageing.

Oral collagen is a skincare staple now, with everyone mooning over its invisible wand of youth

Our physiological ageing starts at 25 years, perhaps earlier, with our urban lifestyles. Does eating collagen actually help us to look younger? “Our body comprises different types of collagen. Our skin needs Type 1 & 3 collagen. There are hardly any approved supplements that can deliver the specific type required for the skin. Also, supplements are not the whole collagen but bits (peptides) that are mostly dissolved by our stomach acids and barely absorbed by our bloodstream,” explains Agarwal.

It is difficult to comprehend that both whole collagen or peptides can survive the entire digestive process and finally reach the skin at desired levels to augment the depleted collagen. The supplements are also believed to strengthen nails, better joint mobility and gut health. Honestly, there are no mind-blowing visible differences seen in patients consuming the big C. It definitely seems to be a wellness fad for now until we have substantial scientific studies to back the hype or claims made by oral products.”

Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard

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