Among some of the top beauty buzzwords is a relatively new player on the scene - Collagen. You've probably heard it advertised in a skincare commercial or on an Instagram ad at some point. This essential protein has become a daily supplement for many due to its positive effects, including improved joint mobility, smoother skin, and stronger nails. But what can collagen do to promote healthy hair? The answer is - a lot!
What is Collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It's a structural protein that strengthens the tissues within the body and supports skin elasticity, hydration, heart health, and more. It acts like a trampoline, providing a supportive base for our skin to give it a vibrant, firm appearance. While collagen is often famed for its skin-boosting benefits, evidence supports that this potent protein can also have incredible benefits for our hair.
What are the different collagen types?
There are over 16 collagen types, but the most plentiful are types I, II, III, and IV.
- Type I: Nearly 90% of the human body's collagen is within the type 1 classification. It makes up fibers that form bone, skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, and more. It's a critical structural aspect of several tissues and bodily functions.
- Type II: This collagen type forms articular cartilage and makes up around 50% of cartilage protein. Articular cartilage's primary role is to cushion joints.
- Type III: This collagen type supports the structure of muscles, organs, and arteries.
- Type IV: Various physiological and pathological functions rely on type IV cartilage.
How does collagen benefit the hair?
Low levels of proteins (Hypoproteinemia) were associated with thin, dry, brittle hair and hair loss. Taking collagen supplements containing the correct type of peptides provides our hair follicles with the building block required to build new healthier hair.
Collagen can help build new hair follicles and repair damage.
Each hair follicle comprises three layers: the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla. The outermost layer, the cuticle, consists of a shingle roof-like structure made of keratin that forms a protective barrier around the inner layers. The body uses several amino acids to create keratin, many of which are found in collagen. Increasing your collagen intake provides your body with the essential building blocks it needs to generate new hair follicles.
Collagen improves blood circulation to prevent thinning hair
Collagen has been shown to enhance the connective tissue in your scalp, essential for supporting the hair follicles and the scalp blood circulation.
After 20, we lose approximately 1% of collagen production per year. Taking collagen peptides helps the hair follicles produce stronger, better-looking hair, and the cells in our skin create healthier tighter skin.
Collagen can fight back against free radical damage.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that roam the body causing damage if left untreated. Free radicals are typically the result of metabolic processes but can also be produced by smoking, pollution, prolonged sun exposure, and poor diet. We are pretty good at dealing with these pesky molecules when we are younger, but this process begins to slow as we age.
As we grow older, our natural collagen production begins to decline, and the physical signs of aging start to show - wrinkles, fine lines, joint pain, sagging skin, and brittle hair. In addition to accelerating the aging process, free radicals contribute to many health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, cataracts, and damage to cells and hair follicles. Increasing collagen levels within the body can act as an antioxidant to fight these free radicals, keeping the body, hair, and skin healthy.
What are the benefits of collagen on hair?
Hair growth is just one of the many benefits of taking collagen. There are various beauty-boosting bonuses you can reap from this helpful supplement. They include:
- Reduced hair loss
- Thicker hair follicles
- Strengthened hair
- Reduced damage and breakage
- Stimulation of new hair growth
- Less gray hair
- Increased hair volume and shine
Marine Collagen for women's hair loss - the science
The effects of a marine collagen supplement were tested on a group of American women, 21 - 75, with hair thinning. The women were randomly divided into two groups. One group received a blend of marine collagen with vitamin C twice daily, and the other group a placebo. Significantly more treated subjects perceived improvements in overall hair volume, scalp coverage, and hair thickness after 90 days. Additional improvements after 180 days included hair shine, skin moisture retention, and skin smoothness. No adverse events were reported.
Another study tested the effect of a combination of marine collagen with vitamins and minerals on men and women with hair loss. The group included 55 men and five women with genetic and age-related hair loss (androgenetic alopecia). Hair counting in close-up photographs demonstrated a 32.4% increase in hair growth in the treatment group and an insignificant change in the placebo group after six months. By the end of 12 months, average hair growth of 63.9% was observed. The group initially receiving a placebo experienced a 60.8% increase in hair growth. This suggests continued improvement with continued treatment exposure. No serious side effects were reported by the end of the study.
Does topical collagen work?
The short answer is no. Applying topical collagen to the scalp does not help with hair regrowth. The collagen molecules are giant (300,000 daltons) and cannot pass through the upper layer (epidermis) and get to the hair follicles in the dermis. Topical serums, shampoos, and conditioners that contain collagen can attract water and help with hair hydration but will not help with hair regrowth.
What are the other benefits of marine collagen?
In addition to their significant benefits for your hair, Marine Collagen supplements may have other health benefits.
The effects of collagen peptides on the skin
Several studies have shown that collagen peptides may help slow the aging of your skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness. The wrinkle reduction effects associated with taking collagen supplements are explained by their ability to stimulate your body to produce collagen on its own. Taking collagen supplements was also shown to increase other proteins that help structure your skin, including elastin and fibrillin.
The effects of collagen peptides on the nails
Research shows that taking collagen may increase the strength of your nails, prevent brittleness and stimulate your nails to grow longer.
The effects of collagen peptides on the joints and bones
As we age, the amount of collagen in our body decreases, and our risk of developing joint disorders such as osteoarthritis increases. A few studies have shown that taking collagen supplements may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain overall.
The effects of collagen peptides on gut health
Some physicians and nutritionists recommend using collagen supplements to help reduce intestinal permeability (Leaky gut syndrome).
The effects of collagen peptides on your weight
Taking collagen supplements may promote weight loss and a faster metabolism.
How can I add more collagen to my diet and improve my hair health?
Marine collagen supplements contain higher collagen amounts than eating a regular fish fillet. The collagen is found in fish skin, bones, heads, scales, fins, and entrails, as well as fish cartilage. These are parts you're typically not consuming unless you eat small, whole fish (such as sardines, anchovies, or mackerel).
What is the best collagen for growing new hair?
Collagen type I and, to a lesser extent, type III are essential for hair and skin health. Marine Collagen, sourced from wild-caught fish, has more collagen type I than bovine collagen and is better for hair regrowth. Aim to take between 5 - 10 grams of collagen per day. Collagen supplements that come in capsules usually contain significantly lower amounts of collagen and are less effective.
Why choose marine collagen peptides over bovine collagen?
In addition to its higher content of type I collagen per gram, Marine Collagen also has less impact on the environment. Marine Collagen sourced from wild-caught fish is also free of the antibiotics and toxic compounds used in raising farm animals and is allowed for people on pescatarian and other diets.
Is there vegan collagen? Does it work?
There is ongoing effort to modify bacteria or yeast to produce human collagen genetically. Unfortunately, there is no clinical evidence that this collagen type can help with hair, skin, and nails.
What are the different kinds of marine collagen?
The best marine collagen is derived from wild-caught deep seawater fish (cod). This codfish collagen has a high degree of purity and the ability to retain water. Try to avoid lower quality collagen that contains freshwater fish (pangasius and tilapia) and the ecologically disruptive shark fin collagen.
Adding vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to your collagen peptides powder
It was found that adding vitamin C to collagen powder can further help build healthier new collagen in the hair, skin, and nails. In addition to its essential role in creating new collagen vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that helps support a healthier scalp and more active hair follicles. Hyaluronic acid is one of the best moisturizing agents. It can hold water up to 1000 times its weight, keeping the hair scalp and hair strands moisturized, elastic, and shiny.
Marine or bovine collagen - which is better?
Marine collagen for people with hair loss
- The structure of people's hair
- Structure and functions of keratin proteins in simple, stratified, keratinized, and cornified epithelia
- Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin
- Collagen For Your Skin: Healthy or Hype?
- Collagen. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Nutrition.
- A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy of an Oral Supplement in Women with Self-perceived Thinning Hair.