As a skin care blogger, I hear a lot of claims. Newest ingredient, best technology, latest innovation — combine heavy use of scientific sounding-terms and fluffy marketing, and you end up with a lot of snake oil out there. One of the biggest examples of this is when most companies put collagen into skin care.
Collagen in most skin care products is supplied as large 15000-50000 Dalton molecules. However, this means topically applied collagen is too large to fit through the stratum corneum [uppermost layer of the skin], as molecules only 5000 Daltons or less can penetrate the skin (Cosmetic Dermatology). So topically applying collagens will not make your skin firmer or supplement any loss of collagen that occurs. Instead, when collagen is in most skin care products, it merely lays atop and hydrates your skin.
One Great Product with Collagen
Recently I came across a product, Sabrina Beauty Collagen Rx Plus, which contains nano-sized marine collagen. This skin care product also has a liposomal delivery system, so the collagen and other ingredients are time-released. Studies show it actually reaches the deepest dermis layer of the skin, where new skin cells are being formed.
Sabrina Beauty Collagen Rx Plus is an Organic skin care product and in addition to nano-sized marine collagen it also contains green apple stem cells, advanced anti-oxidants, and hyaluronic acid. While stem cells remain somewhat controversial, I do support their use in skin care, by the following arguments:
- The actions of both human and plant stem cells are dictated by the environment, not by the cells’ internal programming. For instance, isolated plant stem cells are able to form entire plant organs when exposed to the right signaling factors (Cell, 2003).
- Plant stem cells are able to detect genetic damage in their environment, and kill off those damaged cells before the damage spreads (Science Daily, 2009).
- Significant changes have been detected in human skin after using plant stem cells. After two weeks of using a product containing these plant stem cell extracts, consumers have seen a significant reduction in the depth of crow’s feet wrinkles by 8 percent; the reduction in the depth of crow’s feet after four weeks reached 15 percent (Inside Cosmeceuticals, 2009). Unfortunately, this study did not compare the effects to those with a placebo cream.
As for hyaluronic acid, it is a natural moisturizing factor (NMF). When you apply hyaluronic acid to the skin, it draws water into the skin, reducing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). It helps to temporarily stabilize and maintain the complex intercellular-skin matrix, which is the “glue” that holds the skin together. Hyaluronic acid also creates a slight swelling of the skin that temporarily reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Collagen Rx Plus by Sabrina Beauty also contains antioxidants. Together, all of these ingredients should help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, to tighten the skin on your face and neck, and to rehydrate the skin.
Why Do Skin Care Companies Want Collagen In Their Skin Care Products?
Most skin care companies that put collagen in their skin care products do so because, theoretically, putting it back into your skin would be like discovering the fountain of youth. Collagen is found in various types throughout your body and your skin, and it is the most abundant protein in your skin. However, production decreases by approximately 1 percent with each year of age after maturity (at about age 21), leading to a loss in firmness and elasticity of skin. What’s more, the collagen that is produced as you age tends to be weaker and at times even cross-linked improperly, which further leads to signs of aging.
Companies have tried putting collagen in topical products, but most of them merely hydrate because, as stated before, the molecules are too large. Some companies have also tried putting collagen into drinkable products, but the studies are very limited and company-sponsored. The only studies that exist about whether a hydrolyzed collagen supplement improves skin health are industry-sponsored studies done by the Rousselot Healthy Choice company for Peptan™ Hydrolyzed Collagen. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled eight-week study, and in another placebo-controlled 12-week study, researchers found that supplements improved cutaneous hydration and had anti-aging effects (Parmentier). Volunteers also self-reported that their skin was softer, brighter, and had better tone. While this sounds promising, I honestly don’t feel comfortable recommending collagen supplements for better skin until more research is done.
The vast majority of the time, you’ll hear me say it over and over again — collagen in skin care is a waste, because it’s too large to penetrate the skin, so it merely hydrates. But I was excited to find and report on the Collagen Rx Plus by Sabrina Beauty, which contains nano-sized collagen in a liposomal delivery system, so that it is actually capable of penetrating the skin, making it look more plump, youthful, hydrated, and firm. I’ve been using it during some of my low-sleep nights with my newborn (six-week-old) baby, and it’s kept my skin looking like I still have a pregnancy “glow”.