Anyone who has a passing interest in skincare will be well used to applying creams, serums and oils to their face for glowing skin. But what about adding a drink to your regimen?
There's a growing trend in the wellness and beauty communities for drinking collagen as part of a well-rounded health and skincare routine. You might recognise this ingredient, as it's used in certain types of fillers, injected into the face to smooth out lines. However, there's no need to be alarmed - it's a naturally occurring protein, drinks are non-invasive, and what if it's the secret to youthful skin?
Here's everything you need to know about drinking collagen as part of your skincare routine...
What is collagen?
Collagen is a protein found in the body, which Dr Preema Vig, medical director of the Dr Preema Clinic, calls "the 'building block' of healthy skin, providing strength and shape". She says it is the 'frame' of the skin, adding: "Elastin and hyaluronic acid are the 'padding'."
Even though collagen is already found in your skin, its levels decrease over time. "By the age of 40, the body's ability to produce collagen decreases by about 25%, and by the age of 60, it has decreased by as much as 50%," says Dr Vig.
Due to this decrease in collagen production, supplements can help to keep skin more bouncy and elastic. The ingredient isn't just beneficial for your skin, as Dr Vig also says it supports "muscles, bone health, hair and nail maintenance".
Why do people drink collagen?
The trend for drinking collagen has sky-rocketed. For example, LQ Collagen - a range of shots and powders - recently saw a 793% increase in week-on-week sales for one particular product. The prospect of drinking part of your skincare routine might seem alien to those familiar with applying products to your face, so why is this such a popular way to do it? Drinks like this can "stimulate and increase your body's own production of collagen", explains Dr Vig, compared to topical products which "tend to 'treat' the upper dermis and stimulate the activity on the upper layers of the skin".
Dr Vig suggests the popularity of drinking collagen is due to "the convenience of being able to take them immediately, without having to have a drink to hand to take capsules", she says. "In addition - some people find it easier than taking multiple capsules, and generally it's absorbed easily and more quickly." You can buy collagen drinks either pre-mixed or as powders.
How long does it take to feel the effects?
One of the most frustrating things about skincare is how much time it takes to see any changes from a new product you're trying. While Dr Vig admits the impact of drinking collagen varies depending on the product you use, she says: "I normally advise patients to allow three to six months to see the benefits, although some of them have fed back that they feel and see the changes as early as four to six weeks into taking a product."
How quickly you see a change in your skin also depends on "the severity of your deficiency" of collagen, says Dr Vig. Of course, drinking collagen should be used on top of a sensible skincare regime, wearing sunscreen every day and drinking plenty of water. The occasional collagen-packed drink won't stand much of a chance if you rarely moisturise and have dehydrated skin.
Are there any risks?
Drinking collagen is relatively low-risk, but you still need to be sensible. "As with all supplements, the key is to follow the product usage guidelines and not combine too many products," says Dr Vig. "There is no substitution for a healthy diet, adequate water intake and exercise to provide the body with the perfect balance to function optimally." It's also worth noting most collagen drinks aren't vegan, but you can get plant-based versions.