Here are the answers to all of your top collagen questions

A few years ago I fell down the collagen rabbit hole. It was summer of 2017, long before you could walk into any Sephora or grocery store and find a fully stocked section of every type and form of hydrolyzed collagen imaginable.

In fact, when I first started experimenting with collagen, there was very little information published about it, outside of a couple of studies and marketing campaigns. I wanted to know more and I was hungry for before and after pics. That’s why, when I started taking hydrolyzed collagen every day, I decided to make a YouTube channel to document any changes I saw.

Now, collagen and articles about collagen are everywhere. It’s great because more options means that we can be more discerning about the type and quality of the products that we put in our bodies, but sometimes the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming.

I’ve collected all the questions that you’ve sent me over the years, and added a few in of my own to create the most comprehensive working list of frequently asked questions about collagen that I’ve seen yet. This list is built to help you sort through the noise. You can check out the video series or scroll through the list below.

If there is anything that I missed, please don’t hesitate to drop it in the comments below and I’ll do my best to keep this list updated.

What is hydrolyzed collagen?

Hydrolyzed collagen (aka collagen peptides), is collagen that has been broken down into amino acids that are easier for our bodies to digest.
 

How long do I have to take collagen before I notice a difference?

Give yourself a month to see if you notice any changes. Most supplements give you about a month’s supply, so that is a good time for you to check in and see if you see a difference. If you are taking collagen for improvements to your skin/hair/nails, be sure to take pictures before and after. This will help you to spot subtle changes that are easy for us to to miss when we see ourselves in the mirror every day.

How much collagen should I take?

Every product is different. Follow the dosage on the package of whatever brand you purchase.
 

What are the differences between collagen types?

There are 28 different types of collagen. The ones that you will hear talked about most often are types 1, 2, 3.
Type 1 – known for improving quality of skin hair and nails. Found in Marine collagen.
Type 2 – Joints and cartilage. Found in bovine collagen.
Type 3 – Supports gut and intestinal health. Found in bovine collagen.

 

Do I need to take any other supplements with collagen?

Experts suggest taking collagen with vitamin C. The vitamin C helps you to absorb the collagen peptides.

Do I need to cycle on and off of collagen?

Collagen supplements are only effective while you are using them. There haven’t been any studies that have shown that you can increase effectiveness or overcome any plateau of benefits by cycling off and then back onto them.  On a personal note, I notice that when I take it, my skin looks more plump and smooth and when I go off of it, that goes away. for more info, check out this video on what happened when I stopped taking collagen.

Does collagen have a flavor?

There are flavoured and unflavoured supplements. I have a strong sense of smell/taste and in my experience, the flavourless supplements still have a slight taste to them. Enough to notice if mixed with water but not if you mix it in with a smoothie.

What brand of collagen should I buy?

I’ll share a few brands that I recommend, but I know that many of you are doing your own research and what would be even more helpful than my recommendations is the criteria I use when researching supplements. So, I’ll share that too.
 

My favorite collagen brands

What I like about it:
  • Humane practices
  • No added hormones
  • Organic certified
  • Utilize 3rd party testing for heavy metals
What I like about it:
 
  • Transparent processes
  • Sustainably sourced (marine collagen)
  • Utilize 3rd party testing for heavy metals
    Note: I took their Marine Collagen for a year
What I like about it:
  • Boosters are an alternative to collagen (more on that below)
  • Great ingredients
  • Personally liked my results when taking it (see my video review)

What to look for when choosing a collagen brand:

Whenever you are choosing any kind of supplement be sure to do your research. The FDA doesn’t do a great job at regulating supplements.
When it comes to collagen, you should be looking for the following:
  • No additives/toxic chemicals
  • 3rd party testing
  • Grass fed, no hormones, if applicable
  • Transparent/ethical practices

Do collagen supplements actually work?

Hydrolyzed collagen, aka collagen peptides, are a form of collagen that is broken down to be small enough for your body to absorb. Once absorbed, it’s an ongoing debate of what results it can achieve.
 
People take collagen to help with youthful skin, healthy hair, weightloss, and joint pain. Studies have shown promising results, but the problem with these studies is that they are fairly small to be statistically significant and many are funded by companies that sell collagen. From a scientific standpoint, the efficacy is still being debated.
 
Personally, I was interested enough to experiment with collagen myself and see if it made a difference and I found some subtle improvements to the texture of my skin and my nail growth.
 
Very important side note: If you are interested in improving your skin, hair, nails, get brighter eyes, and improve overall health there are a lot of ways that you can do that holistically without purchasing expensive supplements. If you would like to hear more about that from me, let me know here in the comments below.
 
When should you start taking collagen?
For most of us interested in collagen, there is no reason to begin sooner than your mid-twenties, when our natural collagen levels begin to decline. Otherwise, it will only be serving as an expensive protein supplement.
 

Does cost indicate quality?

Not necessarily. I’m always skeptical of absurdly cheap products, but just because a product is expensive doesn’t mean it is high quality. Do your research and don’t depend on cost or reviews, alone. Look at what the company prioritizes, the effort they make to create a quality product and willingness to be transparent, and go off of that.

Note: I think it’s important that I mention here that I don’t work directly with any collagen brands. When it comes to products I share, I research what I think is a high quality product and share my experience. I have high personal standards of what I eat, use on my body, purchase, all of it, so if I’m trying it, then it means that I think it’s a good quality product.

Can your body absorb collagen?

Hydrolyzed collagen is absorbed by our bodies. How exactly it is used, and how much you’ll be able to see benefits to your skin, joints, hair, etc., is up for debate. There have been promising studies, but the studies so far have been fairly small and are often associated with a collagen brand. 

Can collagen lighten hyperpigmentation?

There isn’t any evidence that collagen helps with hyperpigmentation. There are other products out there that do help with that, and they are mostly topical. Such as, retinoids, products with vitamin C, or skin peels.

What is the difference between gelatin and collagen?

Gelatin and collagen are two different substances. However, there is a lot of conflicting information out there about this, especially because some “collagen studies” use gelatin. To make matters more confusing, different countries label the products differently. For example, what would be labeled “collagen peptides” in the USA, would be labeled “hydrolyzed gelatin” in Australia.
 
Here’s what I can say: gelatin (US english label) is partially hydrolysed collagen. Meaning, it can’t directly be used and absorbed. In order to use gelatin it needs to be “bloomed” by soaking it in warm water until it becomes a jelly-like substance. Gelatin takes longer to digest which some say it helps to coat your GI tract, resulting in improved gut health. Gelatin and collagen have overlapping benefits but they aren’t necessarily interchangeable.
 

Can’t I just drink bone broth?

There are many touted benefits of bone broth. However, it’s not the same as hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides as it has not gone through the process of being broken down. It would be more like taking gelatin.
  

Are there vegan collagen supplements?

Traditional collagen supplements are not vegan because they are made from animal byproducts.
Note: There has been recent success in creating a substance molecularly identical to collagen through yeast fermentation, but this isn’t widely available yet.
 
There are, however, great vegan collagen boosters. Collagen boosters are made up of amino acids and nutrients that aid your body in its own collagen production.
 
These boosters differ from traditional collagen supplements but helping your body naturally produce collagen rather than introducing collagen from animal sources into your body.
 
I believe in taking care of our bodies and giving them what they need in the form of whole foods, and only supplementing when necessary. I think these plant-based collagen supplements are a good stepping stone and a reminder that we should lean on natural foods to help us to keep healthy.
 

Don’t be fooled by brands that claim to be the fountain of youth.

It is possible to achieve results by using supplements and beauty products but don’t be fooled by products that make it seem like you can change your appearance drastically or overnight.

If you choose to experiment with collagen make sure to set realistic expectations and don’t underestimate the power of a healthy lifestyle and a little self-love.

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Did I miss anything? Add your questions in the comments below.

Affiliate disclaimer: I do not have a professional relationship with any collagen brands. I do include affiliate links when sharing products that I recommend. By clicking these links you do not pay any extra, and I receive a small amount of money from any purchase you make. It’s a way that I help fund my site by sharing only products I would use.
 
Further reading: here are some of the resources I used for making this guide:

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