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You are here: Making Smart Skin Care Choices > Myths and Misconceptions >

Collagen creams

Collagen creams have been around for decades. At the first glance, they seem useful. After all, the skin is made of collagen; so if you put on a cream with collagen, the skin should absorb it and thereby improve. This does not work. Let me give you an analogy. Imagine you live in a brick house and your neighbor is throwing bricks at it. Will your walls become stronger or smoother? Of course not: those bricks will simply lay scattered on the ground.

Same happens when you apply a collagen cream. Collagen is a large molecule, it does not penetrate the skin but stays idly on top of it, only to be washed off during your next shower. Traditional collagen creams are not entirely useless because collagen can hold moisture and makes a decent moisturizer. But do not expect these creams to strengthen your skin.

Admittedly, there are a few emerging techniques to create a better collagen cream. Some companies use partially hydrolyzed collagen, i.e. collagen chopped up into fragments small enough to penetrate the skin. But even if such downsized collagen penetrates the skin, the fragments are too small to properly integrate into the skin's own collagen framework. They are likely to be quickly washed out of the skin via lymphatic flow. Finally, a few companies claim to possess unique transdermal technologies to deliver full-size collagen deep into the skin via topical application. This is an intriguing claim not yet supported by sufficient evidence. Even if true, it is unclear whether even successful transdermal delivery of full-size collagen will cause it to integrate into the skin matrix and improve the skin's strength and regularity. This research is worth following though. (See also our article on collagen treatments).

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