This Is What Collagen Powder Actually Does To Your Skin

by Kelli Acciardo

There's been a lot of buzz in the beauty world lately about collagen powders doing wonders for hair, skin, nails — even benefitting the digestive system and boosting athletic performance. Always one to be intrigued by a trend (especially one that could offer all this) I turned to NYC-based dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Levine to get her thoughts on them.

"Collagen is a protein, so if you're eating more protein than that's better for your skin," Dr. Levine tells me. "They can sometimes have a gelatin component, which is also strengthening to hair and nails."

Kurt Seidensticker, the Founder of Vital Proteins, also seconds this notion telling me: "What a lot of people don't realize is that our skin is made up of nearly 70 percent collagen, so adding collagen to your diet in peptide form can help your body with the production of additional collagen. By feeding your skin from the inside out, you're supplying your skin with additional moisture and firmness while helping to preserve a youthful appearance."

So how exactly do you ingest them? Seidensticker explains, saying: "Most of our formulas are made with collagen peptides, as their solubility in hot and cold liquids makes them virtually effortless to add into anything you're eating or drinking throughout the day. In addition to our peptides, we offer collagen in the gelatin form, which can be cooked into soups or made into gummies and marshmallows."

Now, there are some conflicting thoughts on these so-called miracle-worker peptides. While they're Whole30-approved, they're not for vegans or anyone who's kosher for that matter, since they're sourced from "bovine hides," albeit grass-fed, pasture-raised ones. In addition to the collagen found in the cow hides, another option on the Vital Proteins menu is the marine collagen kind (that's sourced from fresh wild-caught snapper), a vanilla and coconut water one, and a beauty greens varietal that promises to "helps prevent the signs of aging, while improving your skin's moisture, smoothness, and tone." Yes, please.

The Experiment

I decided to order a ton of the Vital Proteins powders in every possible flavor and immediately start drinking my new collagen-infused waters, waiting for that ~glow~ to kick in.

Although I'm told by Seidensticker it's best to consume one to two servings per day, that seems a bit excessive (not to mention I'm pretty forgetful). So I vow to try to get involved a few times a week. (Side bar: the beauty greens and vanilla coconut ones were definitely the best. The marine collagen powder... not as into.)

In an interview with Well+Good, Jennifer Aniston confessed that she's a fan of collagen powders, especially in her breakfast smoothies. I was able to track down her recipe and decided to try it out for myself.

Here's the recipe:


Directions: Add the ingredients to your blender in the order listed so the liquid is at the bottom. Blend on medium speed, increasing to high speed until the smoothie is thick and smooth.

Seriously, this stuff is good. Breakfast and beauty benefits in one? Sold.

After another few days I start to see a difference in my hair texture — it feels stronger and a bit softer — but the skin improvement seems to be a bit slower to occur. Nails? Eh, sorta the same.

Ever the impatient one, I do what any girl testing out protein powders for a story would — enlist her boyfriend to join the cause. Mine happens to be a chef, so he whips up his own version of the Jen-An Shake, the Luke Venner shake. His has almond butter, cacao, bananas, dates, coconut water, and frozen acai packs with a scoop of the vanilla coconut powder thrown in. It might even beat Jen Aniston's (sorry Jen).

The Verdict

He says his skin and hair are the same (ugh, boys), but after another few days, I start to notice my nails getting better, in the form of stronger tips and less tears and breakage. (That could also be because I've sworn off gel manicures, although I miss them so...)

The glow part is apparently taking it's sweet time, but whenever I have one of these shakes (or even just the powder in water) before a workout I can definitely sense the athletic boost. And who knows, I might even up my dosage to two times a day to get on Aniston's level, beauty wise.