Collagen in a protein—in fact, it is the most abundant protein in the body. It is found in the bones, muscles, joints, and skin. It is what keeps the skin fleshy, elastic, and smooth. But as we age, our bodies produce less collagen. This is why collagen has become such a popular supplement to slow the aging process.

That raises several questions. Does collagen really work? What is the best type of collagen on the market? For this article, we’ll examine the effectiveness of the two most popular forms of collagen. It is collagen powder vs. collagen cream.

Collagen Cream

Hands senior woman with moisturizing cream closeupIs a skin cream an effective form of collagen? Most researchers and doctors are skeptical. This is mainly because the rope-like collagen molecule is not easily absorbed past the top layer of your skin. And it is not known to further the production of collagen in your body. Because of these factors, it does not come highly recommended by healthcare professionals. [1] [2] [3]

However. This does not necessarily mean you should throw out your collagen cream if you find it is working for you. What it can do for you is help your skin retain moisture. And it can temporarily fill in wrinkles and give your skin a smooth sheen. [4] [5] In conclusion, simply be realistic when considering purchasing a collagen cream. Know that its effects are surface-level and often temporary. But if you are happy with the results, and see no negative effects, then keep applying!

Collagen Powder

Collagen Protein Supplement Powder and VegetablesOral collagen tends to have a better reputation. Collagen that is hydrolyzed has been broken down into smaller molecules that make for easy absorption. These are often available as powders that can be easily mixed into drinks and smoothies. But the question is: do they really help your skin?

Several studies have shown skin improvement. One study included 69 women over the age of 35 in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Divided into groups of 23, the first group was the control group, the second group received 2.5 g of collagen per day, and the third group consumed 5 g of collagen per day. The study lasted 8 weeks. They measured skin elasticity, skin moisture, trans-epidermal water loss and skin roughness before and after the trial. The groups that took collagen showed improvement in these areas. [6] 

Other studies similar to this one confirmed these same effects. [7] [8] [9] Do note that these tests are often short-term evaluations and smaller in size. However, the results are positive. And, like the collagen cream, if you find improvement from your daily dose of collagen, then keep using it.

Best Practices

Family with three year old boy on beachSimply consuming collagen is not enough to preserve your skin. It is also important to avoid collagen breakdown by applying sunscreen and protecting your skin from UV burns. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and keeping down cortisol levels (read: managing stress) will also help your skin keep its softness.

The Bottom Line

Collagen is an important protein in our body for maintaining skin health and it can be taken as a supplement in different forms. Creams are not as effective but can help moisturize and smooth the top-most layer of your skin. Powders are absorbed into your body and can improve skin elasticity and reduce wrinkles. And, of course, always feel free consult with your doctor about using a collagen supplement and what you can do to improve your skin health.