The Scientific Truth About Collagen for Hair and Supplements

Glossy, shiny hair — that’s pretty much the dream, right? There are some claims made about collagen for hair, a protein that the body uses to build skin, tendons and ligaments. But, how true are those claims? And if collagen really is the answer to great hair, which products should we be using? Keep reading to find out.

What Is Collagen?

The most abundant protein found in the human body (accounting for between 25 and 35 percent of all proteins in our bodies), collagen is essentially the glue that holds us together, giving structure to our bones, muscles, skin and tendons. Created naturally by our bodies as we break down dietary protein into amino acids, collagen production plays a large part in the health of our hair, skin and nails.

The problem is that the rate at which we produce collagen naturally declines as we get older (by about 1 per cent a year from our mid-twenties). On top of that, environmental factors like smoking, pollution and UV light can also break down collagen, causing ageing and damage to our hair and skin.

What Is Collagen

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Collagen Supplements for Hair

Thinking about trying collagen for hair growth? Ranging from everything from edible gummies to powders to add to your morning smoothie; these supplements promise to top up collagen levels, improving everything from hair to skin and even joints. In fact, collagen supplements have become so popular in recent years that the market for them is expected to grow to $293 million this year in the US alone, according to Nutrition Business Journal.

Although our bodies make collagen naturally, when ingested in the form of a supplement, the body breaks this down into amino acids, which are the building blocks used to create keratin (hair is mostly made up of this).

This, as well as collagen’s positive effects on skin (and therefore scalp health), have led to claims that collagen supplements could be the key to healthy, shiny hair.

But, can these supplements really improve our body’s natural collagen production and help hair health?

The Science

While it may sound too good to be true, it seems research does back up some of the claims surrounding collagen supplements, at least, for our skin.

In 2019, a review of 11 different studies into the benefits of ingestible collagen found that these supplements can have a noticeable effect on skin.

In fact, two of the studies reviewed found “notable improvement in skin elasticity and hydration.” And overall the scientists carrying out the review found that collagen supplements “increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density.”

But while there have been few long-term studies into the specific health benefits of collagen for hair, the maker of one product, Dr. Julie Russak, brand ambassador for NeoCell, told Mane Addicts the “incorporation of a daily collagen supplement can…aid in hair regrowth, as hair health starts from the inside.”

On top of that, thousands of positive reviews of collagen supplements from across the world suggest many people have also noticed improvements in their hair health.

Collagen Impact On Health

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Supplements with Collagen for Hair

So, if you’re interested in seeing what collagen supplements could do for your hair, here are some products to get you started.

#1: Zena Liquid Collagen + Biotin

Flavored with berry, this collagen drink has a high absorption rate, meaning your body is getting more of what it needs. In addition, it also contains B-complex vitamins as well as the most popular beauty vitamin, Biotin. It occurs naturally in many foods, but using a supplement provides a higher dose to support healthy hair, skin, and nails.

#2: Mav Nutrition Collagen Gummies

Containing hydrolyzed collagen types one and three (the two types most responsible for bone, muscle, skin, hair and nail health), these fruit-flavored gummies also boast vitamins B, C and E. With thousands of rave reviews on Amazon, these supplements promise to support healthy hair, skin and nails, as well as strong bones and joints and gut health.

#3: Flamingo Supplements Collagen

Another popular favorite online, Flamingo Supplements’ Hydrolyzed Collagen Gummies also contain collagen types one and three, as well as kosher, halal and gelatin-free. They are also tropical flavored, making taking your supplements all that much easier and tastier.

#4: Ancient Nutrition Collagen Protein Powder

This collagen protein powder is one of the most top-rated products of its kind. It includes five different types of collagen delivered from chicken fish, hydrolyzed bovine and eggshell collagen peptides. This powder is easy to add to your protein cocktail, latte, or water for a quick collagen kick. If you’re looking for a similar vegan option, try Moon Juice Collagen Protect, which is 100% plant-based.

Collagen Supplements

Other Ways to Improve Collagen Production

Since our bodies naturally produce collagen when we eat protein, there’s also plenty we can do diet-wise to keep collagen supplies healthy.

Top sources of protein include beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs and dairy products.

Meanwhile, for the body to carry out the process of breaking down protein into amino acids to create collagen it requires healthy levels of iron and vitamin C.

So, as well as getting in plenty of plant or meat based proteins, make sure to supplement your diet with iron rich foods like wholegrains and chickpeas, as well as topping up vitamin C levels with plenty of citrus fruits, broccoli and cauliflower.

Extra Protection

As well as increasing collagen production by eating plenty of proteins, we can also help our skin and hair (and overall health) by reducing the number of things that can break down collagen.

These include oxidative stress, caused by pollution, smoking, sun exposure and poor diet.

To counteract this, there are plenty of foods (and products) that contain antioxidants to protect the body from oxidative stress.

In terms of diet, fruit and vegetables are some of the best sources of antioxidants, with raspberries and spinach containing some of the highest amounts.

For even more protection, though, there are also plenty of antioxidant-rich products that can be used on both the hair and body, helping to shield it from sun and pollution damage.

Or, for an instant hit of antioxidant goodness, check out Drunk Elephant’s new Wild Marula Tangle Spray, which contains antioxidant-rich virgin Marula and sacha inchi seed oils to protect hair.

Drunk Elephant Tangle Spray

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Related Post: 5 Best Protein Treatments for Hair and How to Tell if You Need One

The Verdict

Collagen is one of the most important proteins we have for ensuring healthy hair, skin and nails. While our bodies produce it naturally from eating meat and vegetable sources, levels of collagen naturally decline as we get older. On top of that, environmental factors such as sun exposure and pollution can also affect levels.

So, as well as making sure to get in plenty of collagen-rich foods, science has shown collagen supplements could have some positive effects on our bodies.

To look after hair (and your health, in general), always make sure to pick supplements that are FDA-approved. And, also include some antioxidant protection to shield strands from further damage. Bring on the shiny hair.

After this research, do you want to try collagen for hair?

Featured Image via Instagram

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