3 Shocking Facts About Drinking Collagen for Skin

The reality is that taking supplements, or drinking collagen for skin health is not likely to be as effective a strategy when it comes to chasing that younger looking skin ideal so many people are after.

Collagen, or collagen stimulating products, really need to be applied directly onto the skin if you want to see effective and immediate results in the skincare department. 1

Consuming collagen supplements and stimulants is likely to have a direct effect on helping to repair the whole body. The body will absorb collagen, or other nutrients required to support the development of collagen, and distribute them according to where the need is greatest first. 2

You know what that means?

Life-supporting essential functions are what the body will work on first, ensuring these are sustained as a priority. This is where collagen and stimulating nutrients are more likely to go and be used initially.

As much as some people might not like to hear it, younger-looking skin is not critical for sustaining life.

Is there any Point to Drinking Collagen for Skin Health?

In short, yes, there is. But the skin is more likely to be a beneficiary of this approach further down the line. Your fine lines and wrinkles aren’t going to disappear overnight from drinking collagen for skin care or beautification reasons. 3

When pondering the question ‘How long does it take for collagen supplements to work?’ how it is used or consumed is directly connected to the outcome.

Results may be noticed when applied topically as soon as within munities in some cases, through to taking weeks or months for noticeable health changes when used consistently. 4

To help stimulate my collagen production, I prefer to use Irish Sea Moss Gel, which I make at home from dried Sea Moss.

When it comes to drinking collagen for skin, hair, nails, and bone health this is not where the benefits stop. Collagen and collagen stimulating nutrients also help to support cartilage, tendon, and muscle health along with providing support for your organs.

Irish Sea Moss contains one of the best forms of collagen stimulants I know of. Studies conducted on the keratinocyte migration enhancement properties are very surprising! 5 6

The flexibility of bone broth as a product, considered by many to be one of the best collagen supplements available, as an additive is something that a lot of people find easy to work with. However, if you’re Vegan, this simply isn’t an option.

Did you know that your bones are predominantly made up of collagen protein called fibrils? Collagen may be more effective than calcium at keeping the bones strong. 7

How Much of a Role Does Collagen Play?

Our whole body is made up of different types of collagen protein. From the organs to the connective tissues, muscles, and tendons, skin, hair, and nails, etc.

Think of collagen protein as the scaffolding that provides support and structure to every part of the human body.

When it comes to the skin, the collagen protein gives it elasticity and firmness. As for the other parts of the body, the collagen protein makes bones and muscles strong.

Fact 1 – Your Collagen Levels Diminish After Adulthood

Towards our late 20’s and early 30’s, we start to notice the changes in our complexion. This is because, from the age of 20, we start to lose our collagen stores at a rate of about 1% per year. 8

This doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the compounding effect.

Over time the body’s collagen production diminishes, which is why crow’s feet and fine lines start to appear around the eyes, nose, and mouth.

The skin’s plumpness and youthful glow can also become dull. These are the signs that the body’s collagen production is slowing. Although the results are noticeable on the skin, collagen reduction affects the whole body.

Can Drinking Collagen for Skin Slow the Aging Process?

Many cosmetic companies claim that you can slow the signs of aging by using their wonder product. Some of them are good, and others are just very expensive short-term gap fillers.

In saying this, if you were to apply collagen directly onto the body’s largest organ, your skin, it would lap it up. This, of course, raises some questions.

Can My Collagen Levels be Replenished?

Well, kind of. Human collagen cannot be replenished after it has diminished to almost zero. However, we can supplement and stimulate human collagen by consuming products that contain collagen peptides.

Studies into fibril-forming collagen mimetic peptides are providing some interesting results. Mimetic, meaning it is capable of mimicking collagen to an extent. 9

Bovine, Marine, or Plant-Based Collagen Stimulants

Which collagen is the right one to choose if it is the best collagen for skin you’re looking for?

There is no definitive plant based collagen source as it is only produced by animals and humans.

However, there are plant based options that can play a part in supporting collagen production and stimulation. 10

Drinking collagen for skin health for me is all about going to Sea Moss! Some people claim that there is no difference between bovine, marine, and plant-based collagen stimulants. But there actually are differences.

Bovine collagen is taken from cows. After a cow has been slaughtered, the human food-grade meat is sent off to the butchers. What is left is sent off to various places to be turned into pet food, or collagen.

The cowhides, bones, cartilage, horns, intestines, ligaments, tendons etc., are used to make bovine collagen. This is generally in the form of gelatin where the offcuts are boiled down into a stew, and then processed.

Sometimes the offcuts are dried and ground into powders. Add a bit of flavouring and then this is bottled for human consumption.

Doesn’t that make drinking collagen for skin health sound appealing?

3 Shocking Facts About Drinking Collagen for Skin - 2 Artistic White Cows in a field with red eyes and corporate stamps on their ears looking sad at the camera.

Fact 2 – Bovine Collagen Comes from Where!?

Some suppliers of bovine collagen source their products from Brazil. This isn’t completely contentious as Brazil is a big country. However, there are challenges where farming practices are not aligned with certain values.

Many people have concerns about deforestation and other environmental pain points. Environmental sustainability, the overuse of pesticides and preferences for chemical-free practices, avoiding GMOs in feed, and ensuring water quality are just the tip of the green iceberg for many.

Knowing what is going on behind the scenes in this area is important. And making choices about how your purchasing power supports businesses and industry matters too. At this level, it’s not just about the immediate drinking collagen benefits.

Still keen on drinking collagen for skin care? After learning more about how gelatin is made years ago I found myself rethinking things here. Which is why I prefer seaweed as a collagen-stimulating source of nutrition.

Don’t think that animal-based collagen is restricted to cows. All animals that are farmed for human consumption are used to make animal-based collagen.

If it has a beak, or hoofs, a snout or fins, you guessed it. All offcuts and less aesthetically appealing parts of animals are used to make collagen supplements in some form or another.

Fact 3 – Starved Fish Produce More Marine Collagen

Fish are farmed or harvested intentionally to become marine collagen. The manufacturers use the ‘ends’ being the guts, scales, bones, and the like, and grind it up or boil it into gelatin.

And voilà, you now have marine collagen.

The sad thing about this process is the treatment of the animals. For the processors of marine collagen to get the best yield, they tend to starve the fish they are farming. Starved fish are known to produce higher levels of collagen. 11

Yikes! Talk about animal cruelty.

For a long time, people believed that there was no such thing as plant-based collagen stimulants and you had to drinking collagen for skin health from purely animal sources. However, in more recent times, Scientists have found an abundant source of plant-based collagen stimulants from sea vegetables. 12

Yay! No more need for animals to be harmed in the making of marine collagen. Just go to seaweed instead and get the nutrients needed to stimulate collagen production in your own body!

Collagen Structure

Structurally, animal-based collagen is comprised of larger molecules than human collagen. They are called triple-helix collagen protein, which means that there are three strands of protein. Animal-based collagen is bigger than human collagen which is understood to be difficult for the human body to assimilate. 13 14

3 Shocking Facts About Drinking Collagen for Skin - Artistic Collagen Structure

To overcome this, Scientists weave some magic to modify the animal-based collagen protein by adding cold enzymes.

They extract what they think is important, and break down the triple-helix collagen protein molecules in the interest of making it easier for us to consume. Now we have hydrolysed collagen, and then they turn this form of collagen into a supplement. Hydrolysed collagen is easier to absorb.

In summary, hydrolysed collagen is processed collagen which is extracted from animals. Irrespective of which animal the collagen comes from, structurally the collagen is the same. 15

On the flip side, marine vegetables are packed full of collagen-stimulating constituents and lots of minerals that the body needs. This makes drinking collagen for skin health Vegan-friendly and accessible.

Who knew?!

Can Cosmetics Replace Collagen?

Look, I won’t lie to you and say that using cosmetics will help you retain your youthful beauty long-term. But I’m also not going to deny that there are benefits to using certain cosmetic products.

Personally, I think that there is a lot of great marketing that goes on behind the products to make us believe that expensive cosmetics are going to solve our problems. Lots of fancy words and beautiful images are creatively used to help convince the Consumer.

There are some amazing products available on the market where that claim that drinking collagen for skin health also promotes anti-aging effects, and reduction of dark skin spots, and are even suitable for treating acne.

Ideally, you would want to seek professional advice from a Dermatologist who can prescribe something suitable for your skin rather than trusting the marketing spin on an advertising campaign.

Hopefully, the product they recommend contains retinoids, Vitamin C, glycolic acid, amino acids, and copper peptides. After that, the treatment for skin concerns becomes rather expensive. From various types of laser treatment to lead lights.

Vegan Collagen Stimulant Sources

So, if you are Vegan (or not) there are a few Vegan-friendly options when it comes to eating or drinking collagen for skin health, so you need to consider supporting nutrition and food sources that will stimulate collagen production. For example:

  1. Tobacco leaves
  2. Leafy greens and vegetables
  3. Green Tea
  4. Matcha
  5. Seaweed

Tobacco leaves are dried and primarily used for smoking. You may well be familiar with the various paraphernalia for smoking tobacco. Given the bad press around tobacco, we’re consistently led to believe that tobacco could potentially cause more harm than good.

Until recently, I wasn’t aware that tobacco was used as a spice in culinary dishes. It’s used for smoking meats to give them a different smokey flavour, added to chai for another dimension of spice, Tobacco tinctures, added to cocktails and even desserts.

Wow! Such versatile! Honestly, as a non-smoker, I had no idea about the research into tobacco-producing thermally stable virgin collagen! 16

Green Tea and Matcha have been found to help support collagen levels in the body. However, they’re not effective at increasing collagen protein levels as much as in delaying the crosslinking of collagen process. 17

Then we come to Seaweed. In the drinking collagen for skin care realm, many people don’t even consider this.

Did you know that there are an estimated 35,000 known species of Seaweed? Humans currently consume about 30 species of seaweed. Interestingly, certain species of seaweed contain different levels of minerals and collagen stimulating constituents!

There are so many benefits to consuming seaweed which far exceeds the collagen stimulation discussion. You can read more about this in our article What Are The Benefits Of Eating Seaweed Everyday?

Which Collagen is Best?

If you were to find a natural, chemical-free, plant-based collagen stimulant, I would be supportive of giving it a try. Which is exactly what I did.

I use Sea Moss Gel which provides many benefits. From drinking collagen for skin, nails, hair, bones, tendons, and muscles to support all my organs.


  1. “Collagen Supplements for Aging and Wrinkles: A Paradigm Shift in the Fields of Dermatology and Cosmetics” – H. A. Atif, 12 February 2022 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  2. “The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise: a systematic review” – M. Khatri, R. J. Naughton, T. Clifford, L. D. Harpe, L. Corr, 7 September 2021 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  3. “A Collagen Supplement Improves Skin Hydration, Elasticity, Roughness, and Density: Results of a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Blind Study” – L. Bolke, G. Schlippe, J. Gerß, W. Voss, 17 October 2019 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  4. “Hydrolyzed Collagen—Sources and Applications” – A. L. López, A. M. Peñaloza, V. M. M. Juárez, A. V. Torres, D. I. Zeugolis, G. A. Álvarez, 7 November 2019 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  5. “Red seaweed (Eucheuma cottonii) extract promotes human keratinocyte migration via p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation” – I. W. Kim, S. Y. Kim, M. Manggau, H. F. Anwar, N. S. Kwon, K. J. Baek, H. Y. Yun, D. S.Kim, 11 February 2020 [Pharmacognosy Magazine] [Archive] ↩︎
  6. “Bionanotechnology: Emerging Applications of Bionanomaterials – Chapter 8 – Bionanomaterials for wound healing applications” – I. Chummun, H. Ramphul, D. Jhurry, A. B. Luximon, 17 June 2022 [ScienceDirect] [Archive] ↩︎
  7. “Bone Architecture: Collagen Structure and Calcium/Phosphorus Maps” – M. Tzaphlidou, 15 October 2008 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  8. “Plastic and Aesthetic Research – Skin collagen through the lifestages: Importance for skin health and beauty” – D. M. Reilly, J. Lozano, 20 July 2020 [OAE] [Archive] ↩︎
  9. “Collagen Mimetic Peptides” – Y. Xu, M. Kirchner, 5 January 2021 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  10. “Connective Tissue Stimulation In Guinea Pigs by Polysaccharides Derived From Marine Algae” – E. L. Mccandless, J. L. Mona, 27 June 2014 [ScienceDirect] [Archive] ↩︎
  11. “Marine Origin Collagens and Its Potential Applications” – T. H. Silva, J. M. Silva, A. L. P. Marques, A. Domingues, Y. Bayon, R. L. Reis, 5 December 2014 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  12. “Beneficial Effects of Marine Algae-Derived Carbohydrates for Skin Health” – J. H. Kim, J. E. Lee, K. H. Kim, N. J. Kang, 31 October 2018 [MDPI] [Archive] ↩︎
  13. “Supercoiled Protein Motifs: The Collagen Triple-Helix and the α-Helical Coiled Coil” – K. Beck, B. Brodsky, 13 November 1997 [ScienceDirect] [Archive] ↩︎
  14. “The Nutrition Source – Collagen” – Harvard School of Public Health, Date [Harvard TH Chan] [Archive] ↩︎
  15. “Hydrolyzed Collagen – Sources and Applications” – A. L. López, A. M. Peñaloza, V. M. M. Juárez, A. Vargas-Torres, D. I. Zeugolis, G. A. Álvarez, 7 November 2019 [MDPI] [Archive] ↩︎
  16. “Human collagen produced in plants: more than just another molecule” – O. Shoseyov, Y. Posen, F. Grynspan, January 2014 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  17. “Green Tea Extract Suppresses the Age-Related Increase in Collagen Crosslinking and Fluorescent Products in C57BL/6 Mice” – K. Rutter, D. R. Sell, N. Fraser, M. Obrenovich, M. Zito, P. Starke-Reed, V. M. Monnier, 1 February 2013 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎

Last Updated on 57 mins by D&C Editorial Team

About the Author

Christine has long been on the path to optimal health. With a history of weight loss coaching she is driven by a passion for nutrition, health and wellness. Having grown up in Africa before migrating to New Zealand, and then Australia, she has seen very strong contrasts in quality of life and is driven to help others understand the importance of taking a holistic approach to life.

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