The Collagen Hype (and shattered hopes)

A big ‘booooo’ to Christian Jessen for shattering my dreams of having never-aging skin! I was convinced that the collagen in some of my (expensive, much-loved) creams would strengthen my skin and make it gorgeously supple! In Wednesday’s Evening Standard, Dr Christian wrote “thinking collagen is somehow absorbed through the skin from a cream and incorporated in the skin’s own collagen matrix is a gross misunderstanding of basic biochemistry. [Collagen] is a huge molecule, which any dermatologist will tell you is far too large to get through the skin.”

Oh bloody hell! A little more research into the ‘basic biochemistry’ (basic? It nearly blew my brain apart!) came up with the following: collagen cannot be absorbed through the skin. There are a few emerging technologies that claim to be able to reduce the size of the particles so that they can pass into the skin, but the effectiveness hasn’t really been proven. So the collagen in topical formulas just kind of sits about on the surface, not strengthening the skin and keeping it like a five-year-old’s, as we would all hope.  What it does do effectively is trap moisture, which is useful in a moisturiser, obviously. So all is not lost, one supposes.

Anyway, I wish that Dr Christian hadn’t brought this to my attention, but I’ll forgive him. After all, he admitted that he “regularly fall[s] for the classy packaging and scientific mumbo-jumbo on pots of face cream”. And he has much more than a ‘basic’ understanding of biochemistry, I’m sure! His advice for anti-ageing? “Not smoking, eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and most of all avoiding over-exposure to the sun.”


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