Sometimes, I catch myself looking at old photos from college. On one hand, I can appreciate how much I've grown and the slower pace of my life now; I'm no longer slamming off-brand energy drinks sprinting from cheerleading practice to the library to a house party that inevitably would get broken up by the police. But you know what I wish hadn't slowed down? My skin's collagen production, which explains why my university-era baby face looks so much more taut and glowy than my current visage.
Age comes for us all, and that's partially due to collagen, a protein that makes up about 75 percent of your skin. "It’s essentially like a bed mattress under our skin (found in the dermis layer) and with age, it softens and the skin starts to show wrinkles and loss of tone," says celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau. And with time, your skin actually produces less of it, which means you've got to work a little harder to keep skin bouncy and toned.
How Do Collagen Creams Work?
The annoying part? You can't just slather on more. Collagen molecules are actually too large to be absorbed by the skin. "While topical collagen can help with skin moisturization, it has never been shown to encourage any collagen synthesis or growth," says Rouleau.
But fear not: you can encourage your skin to up its game and make more. "Vitamin C has been shown to induce collagen types I and III and reverse inflammation that causes damage to collagen in the skin," she notes. And retinoids have been shown to stimulate new collagen within the skin, which is why it’s such a major player in anti-aging products.
While collagen supplements are popular as of late, Rouleau notes their effectiveness isn't a guarantee. "The jury is still out on if they actually have an effect. Most things that are taken orally are broken down by the acids in our stomach and don’t necessarily make their way into the bloodstream. But there is no harm in taking one," she says.
So if your skin isn't producing Youth Juice at maximum speed anymore, what can you do? Rouleau says applying sunscreen is a must, and avoiding smoking is a given. You guys know this, right? But when it comes to skincare, there are some collagen-based products that will help kick your skin into overdrive—and maybe, just maybe, that collagen supply will get the hint. Here, the best creams for getting that collagen-rich glow.
J-beauty doesn't mess around when it comes to innovation, and DHC's gel formula contains astaxanthin, a type of freshwater algae that has more brightening power than vitamin C to kick your collagen production up a notch.
Flaky folks, this one is for you. This cream increases hydration by up to 253% in 1 hour (!!!) and contains SPF 30 to prevent the formation of future lines and wrinkles
When you're tired, you usually look tired. Plumping up that area around your eyes can help distract from the fact that you got no sleep last night, and this peptide-infused option will perk up your gaze.
Glycolic acid speeds up cell turnover, which means an even more youthful appearance.
According to Rouleau, retinol is an anti-aging all-star, and can help signal to your skin to get the collagen assembly line moving.
This nourishing cream promotes moisture elasticity for that oh-so-tight, perfectly photogenic look.
Three types of collagen—marine, plant, and hydrolyzed—help plump up tired skin and improve the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and firmness.
Peptides and vitamin B3 give this eye formula a plumping, invigorating kick.