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  • Writer's pictureAshley T

Why Collagen Creams Are Kind of a Scam & What to Buy Instead

As one of the structural proteins in the skin, collagen plays a crucial role in maintaining its firmness and the appearance of youth. The inevitable decline in collagen levels as we age, leading to the formation of wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin, has spurred a booming market for collagen skincare.

Yet, the pressing question remains: Can collagen skincare truly replenish collagen in the skin to reduce signs of aging? Truth is, not at all.

In this article, we'll delve into the intricacies of collagen creams, exploring why their promises fall short and what alternative solution you should consider instead.


What Happens to Collagen as We Age?

Collagen is continuously produced by cells in our skin called fibroblasts to keep the skin plump and youthful. However, it is also naturally broken down by enzymes in the skin. 

As we get older, this delicate balance shifts, resulting in a net loss of collagen fibers. 

The estimated collagen loss is approximately 1% every year throughout adult life. (Source: Avila Rodríguez, M. I., et al.)

Coupled with other aging-related changes to elastin fibers and hyaluronic acid in the skin, the skin becomes thinner, less firm, and less elastic.

Many beauty companies market collagen creams as a solution to replenish lost collagen in the skin and combat signs of aging. But do they actually work?


Can Collagen Creams Truly Replenish Collagen in The Skin?

Beauty companies have capitalized on the popularity of collagen skincare by introducing a myriad of products, from collagen creams and serums to "needle-less" threads, all promising to restore collagen fibers, repair fine lines, and lift sagging skin.

To really replace the lost collagen in our skin, the collagen in skincare products has to be absorbed and integrated into the dermis. Unfortunately, this is not possible.


The Problem with Collagen Creams

Our skin has a barrier function that protects our body from external threats such as infectious agents, harmful toxins, and allergens. Inevitably, this function also hampers the absorption of active ingredients with larger molecular weights.

The skin has a limitation on the size of molecules it can absorb. Skincare ingredients with molecular weights exceeding 500 daltons struggle to penetrate the skin effectively. This is why many topical medications are designed with smaller molecules. (Source: Bos, D., & Meinardi, M. M. H. M.)

Collagen, however, is inherently a large molecule. The average collagen molecule weighs between 285-300 KDa, making it more than 500 times larger than the maximum size allowed for effective skin absorption. (Source: León-López et al.)

Even when collagen is hydrolyzed (broken down into smaller fragments), the resulting molecules are still too large to be absorbed effectively by the skin.

In simpler terms, the human skin cannot effectively absorb collagen from skincare products.

The molecular weights of native and hydrolysed collagen. Image credit: León-López et al.


So, Are Collagen Creams a Scam?

If our skin can’t absorb the molecules in the first place, why then do companies claim that using collagen skincare can improve signs of aging? Well, it turns out this claim isn't entirely baseless.

As an active ingredient, collagen serves as a humectant in moisturisers, helping the skin retain moisture and stay hydrated. This plumping effect temporarily reduces the appearance of fine lines and enhances firmness. 

Collagen also has film-forming properties that minimize water loss through the skin and alleviate mechanical stresses, contributing to an improved skin appearance. 

The humectant and film-forming qualities of collagen in skincare offer a temporary improvement in the appearance of the skin. However, they do not address the depletion of collagen at deeper levels. (Source: Sionkowska et al.)

Summary: While collagen skincare products may provide temporary improvements in skin appearance by acting as humectants and reducing water loss, they cannot address the deeper collagen loss within the skin. These products may hydrate and moisturize the surface, offering a fleeting plumping effect, but they do not address the root cause of aging.


What to Buy Instead: Liquid Collagen Supplements

To effectively boost collagen levels, what you need is an inside-out approach by consuming liquid collagen orally.

Liquid collagen goes through a process called hydrolysis, breaking it down into smaller pieces known as peptides that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. This makes it easier for your body to handle – think of it like making collagen bite-sized.

So, when you drink it, your body can smoothly digest, absorb, and spread these smaller collagen pieces where they're needed.

When you take a collagen supplement, the acids in your stomach break the peptides down into an amino acid called proline-hydroxyproline. This amino acid not only enhances hydration by increasing the skin's hyaluronic acid content, but it also improves elasticity and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. (Source: Ohara et al.)

Summary: Liquid collagen supplements, particularly in hydrolyzed form, contribute to increased skin hydration, improved skin elasticity, and a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles. The ingestion of collagen peptides stimulates the production of amino acids that enhance the skin's hyaluronic acid content, resulting in a more youthful and hydrated complexion.

Liquid Collagen (Oral)

Collagen Cream (Topical)

Can Be Absorbed


❌ NO

Can Stimulate Natural Collagen Production


❌ NO

Can Benefit Skin, Joints, Hair & Nails


❌ NO


Choosing The Right Liquid Collagen

When choosing a liquid collagen supplement, it is important to consider the following factors:

  1. Make Sure They're Collagen Peptides: Choose collagen peptide supplements over whole collagen for better absorption. Collagen peptides are broken down into smaller, more easily absorbed fragments, ensuring they reach where they're needed in the body.

  2. Prioritise Type 1 Collagen: Type 1 collagen is the most abundant in the skin and is particularly effective in promoting skin health, elasticity, and hydration.

  3. Choose Wild-Caught Marine Collagen: Rich in Type 1 collagen, wild-caught marine collagen is considered the purest form and offers the highest bioavailability.

  4. Look for Antioxidant Support: Look for collagen supplements that include key antioxidant ingredients to support collagen protection and production from within. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, help combat oxidative stress and promote a healthy environment for collagen synthesis.


Top 5 Collagen Supplements in Singapore

We here at Superfood Reviews have done the research to find out what the best options for collagen supplements in the market are. We have graded each choice through a stringent grading based on the following criteria:

Our evaluation criteria:


1. The Purest Co Collagen Glow Berries

What we love:

✅ Potent dose (5500mg) of premium grade collagen from Japan

✅ Utilises marine collagen, which has been proven to be absorbed 1.5 times more effectively than other collagen types

✅ Hydrolised collagen peptides in liquid form for easier absorption

✅ Contains Vitamin C and Bilberry Extract that support collagen production from within

Promising review: "Best Collagen 👍 I’m 66 this year. Same, tried many beauty products from facials, to ******. Nothing seems to work till I tried your collagen berries. Just to my 4 sachets, I can see my face seems brighter n I feel energetic too😍 hope I can continue to buy if the price is cheaper 😅" -Sue.L


2. Meiji Amino Collagen Powder

What we love:

✅ 5000 mg low-molecular marine collagen

✅ Value-for-money

✅ Features ceramides, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C for skin & joints benefits

​Promising review: "Great deal during sale. I buy this a lot for my elderly family member's consumption. It makes their skin more supple. :)" —S**


3. Crystal Collagen by Itoh Hanako

What we love:

✅ 5300 mg of marine collagen peptides per serve

✅ Value-for-money

✅ Contains skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, pomegranate flower extract

​Promising review: “I have been drinking this for 2 years now. Its reasonably price with very good amount of collagen and other vitamins and supplements. I can visibly see the results the after 3 bottles.” —W**


4. Tsubaki Ageless Drink by AFC

What we love:

✅ 5300 mg of marine collagen

✅ Contains hyaluronic acid and vitamins B & C

✅ Low molecular weight collagen peptides

​Promising review: “Effective for the price you paid for.. one of the best.” —a**


5. Collagen Beauty 7000+ by DHC

What we love:

✅ 7000 mg marine collagen peptides per serve

✅ Contains Vitamin C

​Promising review: "Great collagen drink, concentrated & great taste for a beauty drink." —N**


Best Product Overall:

Collagen Glow Berries

30 Sachets

  • Clinically proven to: Firm, Lift, & Moisturize skin

  • Collagen peptide: 5,500mg premium grade Japan Nitta-Wellnex™

  • Infused with: 250mg Vitamin C & 100mg Bilberry extract

  • Lightly sweetened with: Real fruit juice

  • Risk-free money back guarantee

  • Sustainably-harvested from: Tilapia fishes


Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is based on research and the author's opinion and is not intended as professional advice.

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