The verdict on collagen drinks

Collagen drinks are the buzz skincare product of recent months, purported to help restore plumpness, bounce and suppleness to ageing faces. The daily supplement comes in bottles, shots or powder (which you add to liquid). A colleague was even offered a cup of collagen tea after a facial. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, found in bones, muscles and tendons as well as skin, hair and nails. It is part of the connective tissue in the skin that creates firmness and suppleness and is vital for skin elasticity, as well as driving skin cell renewal. But collagen production slows down as we age, thus the impetus to replace it.

Skincare brands have long tried to introduce collagen into our complexions topically, although most dermatologists say its molecules are too big to penetrate below the surface. So can consuming collagen orally really make a difference? Initially a sceptic, dermatologist Dr. Stefanie Williams, medical director at European Dermatology London (, now believes some products live up to their claims. ‘Like many others, I thought the collagen would simply be digested and broken down before it entered the bloodstream and never reach the skin.’

Scrutinising the data, however, Dr. Williams discovered the process works very differently. ‘After the molecule is broken down, the fragments are absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed through the entire body, including the skin, where small fragments remain for up to 14 days. Then comes the interesting bit: your body is essentially tricked into thinking that these fragments indicate collagen breakdown – as would happen with a big tissue injury, for instance – and repair is urgently needed. So it stimulates fibroblasts to produce more collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid – the compounds that give our skin its youthful qualities.’

Dr. Williams now concludes that ‘collagen drinks – which include home-made bone broth – actually work by persuading our bodies to synthesise new collagen. There is data showing that certain supplements can improve hydration, skin elasticity and wrinkling.’



Aneva DermaAneva Derma £110 for 360 g powder (30 days’ supply), Recommended initial course: 90 days. Must be taken at night, in a cool drink or mixed into yoghurt. Each serving contains 10,000mg of pharma-grade hydrolysed bovine collagen, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and alpha lipoic acid, with manganese, zinc, copper and vitamin C to optimise collagen production, maintenance and repair. Preservative-free, but includes a tiny bit of sugar. Clinical trials on the used collagen peptides showed positive results with 95 per cent absorption rates. In a recent ten-week study with Aneva Derma eight subjects all saw improved hydration, skin texture and volume in six to nine weeks; the study included skin scans. A 12-week study involving skin biopsies will report next month. Verdict 5/5



£90 for 30 x 150 ml bottles (30 days’ supply), Recommended initial course: 90 days, although consumers report good results within 30 days. Each 150 ml bottle contains 7,000 mg of hydrolysed freshwater fish collagen, plus calcium, MSM , B and C vitamins, flax seed and l-lysine amino acid. Less desirable is sugar from concentrated grape juice, plus artificial sweetener sucralose and a preservative. The company cites two studies of the same collagen peptides over a 12-week period, which show a line-smoothing effect and promising results for skin hydration and suppleness in 80 women taking 10,000 mg – a higher dose of collagen than in Skinade, but without the co-factors. Verdict 4/5


Pure CollagenPure Gold Collagen £35.99 for 10 x 50 ml bottles (ten days’ supply), Recommended initial course: 90 days. Each 50 ml bottle contains 5,000 mg hydrolysed marine (tilapia fish) collagen, plus hyaluronic acid, N-acetylglucosamine, borage oil, vitamins and minerals; no sugar or artificial preservatives, but contains sucralose and soy derivatives. A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial by the company showed a significant eight per cent reduction in 18 women’s wrinkle depth in nine weeks plus better skin elasticity and hydration. However, the placebo group also saw improved elasticity and wrinkle depth. Wrinkle depth apparently returned to baseline in both groups by week 12. During a larger study the majority of subjects also had Botox or fillers, making the results questionable. Verdict 3/5


Fountain CollagenFountain The Phyto-Collagen Molecule £39.99 for 240 ml (24 days’ supply), Recommended initial course: 24 days, although results apparently appear within 14 days and become more visible over time. Each 10 ml serving contains 5,000 mg hydrolysed marine collagen derived from salmon, plus hyaluronic acid and antioxidant L-glutathione; zero sugar, but contains xylitol, a natural sweetener and prebiotic that promotes collagen production. There are no clinical trials to date. Verdict 2/5