Do Collagen Supplements Work to Improve Hair & Skin Quality?

Collagen seems to be the hot new supplement, but do collagen supplements work to revive your youthful glow? One thing is for sure, our body’s ability to produce collagen plays a vital role in keeping our youth alive. The desire to stay young keeps getting younger, with the 20’s crowd filling up their Amazon carts with what the reviews claim to be the top-rated collagen products for hair, skin, and nails.

How Does Collagen Work?

Not only is collagen the most abundant protein our bodies produce, but it also makes up almost one-third of our total protein mass and 75% of our skin’s dry weight. In addition, collagen serves as a building block for our hair, skin, nails, muscles, tendons, and vascular systems.

As we age, our body naturally produces less collagen, and many researchers agree that this contributes to the aging process.

Almost every supplement and beauty product company has what they claim to be the best collagen supplement that works. So with all of this marketing geared towards what many people dread, looking older, it’s not surprising that consumers are taking collagen powers, pills, purchasing creams, and hair care to boost their youthful glow.

Some research suggests collagen supplements can improve health and appearance, and it’s been shown to improve skin and hair elasticity, even boosting hydration. In addition, because collagen is a building block for the muscular and vascular system, it may decrease joint pain, increase muscle mass, and improve blood flow.

Researchers cautiously suggest collagen can help us look and feel younger. As a hairstylist for 33 years, I have seen improvements in my client’s skin, hair, and nails when they add it to their daily regimen.

Collagen, Amino Acids, and Your Hair

Here’s a brief science lesson for you.

Hair is made up of keratin protein. Keratin partially contains the amino acid proline. The amino acids; glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline make up collagen. To assist your body in absorbing collagen supplements, they are broken down into peptides of two or three amino acids.  Both proline and glycin support the healthy growth of hair. So it stands to reason that if the collagen supplement contains both proline and glycine, it will help your hair, skin, and nails become stronger and more beautiful.

What Are the Best Collagen Supplements?

My personal opinion is while collagen supplements may assist in a more youthful appearance, the very best way to increase the collagen your body produces is by consuming foods that naturally generate collagen.

Collagen Producing Food Sources:

  • Bone Broth
  • Chicken
  • Fish and Shellfish
  • Egg Whites
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Berries
  • Tropical Fruits
  • Garlic
  • Leafy Greens
  • Beans
  • Cashews
  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes

Also, as we age, our bodies produce more free radicals, which damage the proteins (remember, collagen is a protein) our bodies make. So, to add insult to injury, the one thing we need to fight off free radicals is antioxidants, and our bodies produce fewer antioxidants as we age. But there is hope! The more we reduce our exposure to free radicals, increase our intake of antioxidants, and become aware that our bodies need more collagen, we feel better and look better.

Do Collagen Supplements Work? Here’s What The Research Says


While studies point the way to increasing our collagen intake reduces the signs of aging, there is no clear evidence that drinking copious amounts of bone broth or scooping collagen protein in your smoothie will make your skin glow. However, I will post an excellent recipe for a tasty collagen-rich bone broth at the bottom of this blog.

I can tell you without a doubt that collagen is a building block for many things in our bodies, including radiant skin and hair. And that our bodies produce less collagen as we age, and those nasty free radicals diminish our collagen production even further.

The very best way to age with grace is to take care of what goes into your body, and your body will take better care of you.

Collagen Rich Bone Broth

  • Beef bones
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Bay leaves
  • Whole black peppercorns
  • Whole star anise
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Red wine

Step 1: Blanch the Bones

  • Divide the bones between two large pots and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes before draining and rinsing the bones with water.

Step 2: Roast the Bones and Vegetables

  • Now that your bones have been blanched, drained, and rinsed, it’s time to preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Transfer the bones and vegetables (carrots, onions, garlic, celery) to the roasting pans. Avoid piling them all on top of each other- use two roasting pans, if necessary. Roast for 30 minutes before gently tossing the bones and vegetables and roasting for an additional 15-30 minutes more.

Step 3: Transfer the Bones Back to the Stockpots & Bring to a Boil

  • Wash the stockpots used to blanch the bones (this is super important) and divide the roasted bones and vegetables between the two pots. Scrape up any brown bits and juices remaining in the roasting pan using a metal spatula and a little water, if needed, and divide between the two pots (don’t worry, all those brown bits are FLAVOR!). 
  • With the bones and vegetables divided, divide the bay leaves, peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and apple cider vinegar between the two pots.
  • Fill each pot with approximately 12 cups of cold water or enough water to cover the bones. Then, add 1 cup of red wine per pot.
  • Cover each pot with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a low boil. 

Can you cook your broth in a slow cooker (Crockpot)?

  • Yes. Absolutely. For this recipe, you will likely need two large slow cookers. So, instead of transferring the roasted bones, veggies, herbs, and spices to large stockpots, divide them among two (or three) slow cookers, cover with cold water, red wine, and cook on low for 24-48 hours with the lid slightly ajar. Add additional water, as needed, to keep the bones covered.

Step 4: Simmer

  • Reduce heat to low and simmer, with the lid slightly ajar, skimming any foam or excess fat, as needed. Simmer for at least 8-12 hours or up to 24 hours (do not leave the stove running overnight. Simply cool and store in the refrigerator and continue to simmer the next day). Add more water if needed to make sure bones and vegetables remain fully submerged.
  • If the vegetables (particularly the carrots) turn too soft and mushy at any point throughout cooking, use a slotted spoon to remove them. Enjoy as a delicious snack or discard.

Step 5: Strain the Bones 

  • Once the bones have simmered, and your broth is ready, you will need to strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. For an extra clear broth, strain a second time through a food-grade cheesecloth.
  • Set aside the broth to cool and allow the bones to cool (see more on storage and cooling below).

Step 6: Don’t Forget About the Meat

  • Depending on the type of bones you use to make your bone broth, you may or may not have any meat left to be picked off. In my case, I had tons of delicious leftover meat perfect for soup, sandwiches, or (if you’re not into the meaty bits) the family pet. So don’t let it go to waste! As for the vegetables, blend them and add them to cooked rice, mashed potatoes, or add a little broth and make it a delicious blended soup.

Step 7: Skim the Fat from Your Broth (optional)

  • Add a couple of handfuls of ice to your broth to expedite cooling and cover with a lid. Next, transfer your broth to the refrigerator and allow it to cool completely. The result will be a hard, thick layer of fat and a bottom layer that is your bone broth (which should look like gelatinous brown jello). If desired, use a fork to scoop off the top layer of fat. This will leave behind the healthy bone broth, minus the fat.

Step 8: Store your bone broth

  • Bone broth stores well in the refrigerator for approximately five days. However, if you make a large batch, I recommend freezing smaller batches in the freezer for up to 6 months (it reheats perfectly!)


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