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Your Complete Guide to Collagen in Skincare

We break down the science behind collagen boosting skincare, what it actually does for your skin and the best collagen-infused formulas to add to your routine.

In beauty, buzzwords often get tossed around but one of the buzziest, especially when it comes to skin aging, is collagen. You’ve probably heard of it or maybe you’ve even taken it by means of supplements or slathered it on your face with a serum or moisturizer laced with the stuff. In both cases, it’s important to note that not all collagen products are created equal. While it’s a long-standing staple of anti-aging regimens, depending on what kind—and how you use it—it may not live up to your expectations.

When it comes to anything you’re going to put on your skin, and invest in, it’s important to educate yourself on what collagen is, why it’s one of the most hyped elements of skincare and what to look for when adding it to your skincare routine. Let's break it down.

What is collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, found in connective tissues like tendons and ligaments. It’s also the main structural protein in the skin, making up 75% to 80% of the dermis (the second layer of skin) which is where most of your collagen is found—and also where it’s produced. Production happens when skin cells—known as fibroblasts—synthesize the collagen that holds the rest of the dermis together, giving skin its underlying structure.

How does collagen effect skin?

Without collagen, the skin would have the same texture as a leather bag. In other words, we need it to keep our skin looking supple, lifted and smooth. When everything is working as it should, our bodies have cellular collagen-making machines called fibroblasts that synthesize new collagen. These fibroblasts are a type of cell that is responsible for making the extracellular matrix and collagen, think of them as springs in a mattress, they support the skin’s surface and keep things looking bouncy and plump. The bad news is, we start to lose collagen around age 18 because our bodies are not producing it at the same rate. By age 30, it takes a dive, losing an average of 1% a year of our stored collagen, which leads to a loss of skin elasticity, firmness and suppleness.

Beyond age, there are other factors that cause the breakdown of our existing collagen, also known as fragmenting. Some of the biggest contributors are UV rays, pollution, smoking and stress which cause highly reactive molecules known as free radicals. Over time, these free radicals can damage the skin, leading to chronic inflammation, which, in turn, can cause oxidative stress which leads to collagen fragmentation.

The most effective way to compensate for our eventual drop in collagen production is a two-prong strategy. First, protect the existing collagen that’s been stored in your dermis by using UV protection daily, even on cloudy days. This simple action helps prevent the breakdown of collagen from environmental stressors. Second, use skincare actives to support the skin’s ability to produce collagen.

How does collagen benefit skin?

A few of the most notable traits of skin rich with collagen is plump, lifted and smooth. Translation, almost every desirable characteristic of healthy skin comes down to collagen. Essentially, when this protein is stored in the skin at high levels, the more radiant, healthy and younger you’ll look. However, where things get tricky is how to stimulate collagen production because a moisturize with traditional collagen might make your skin feel softer and smoother, but it’s only happening on the surface and not deep down in the dermis, where the magic happens, so to speak.

The main reason for these superficial effects is because collagen is a relatively complex and large molecule, which means it can’t penetrate the skin when used topically. However, to get around the sizing issue, most moisturizers, serums, masks and ingestible powders touting collagen as their star ingredient contain hydrolyzed collagen, otherwise known as a collagen peptide.

Beyond these broken-down amino acid chains, known as peptides, a new collagen booster has recently hit the scene—and its plant-based. Enter, HumaColl21®. This new biodesigned vegan human collagen is the first of its kind for skincare. Of the 28 different types of collagen found in the human body Type 21 (thus the name) is the most effective variety to impart skin with a youthful glow because it’s a critical precursor to creating human collagen types 1 and 3, which are touted with the maintenance of skin elasticity and moisturization.

Unmatched in both its purity and biocompatibility, HumaColl21® has been proven (in clinical trials) to deliver on collagen, elastin and stimulate fibroblasts in the dermis. This vegan variety has also been proven to outperform other notable collagen enhancing ingredients, such are retinol, vitamin C and marine collagen.

How to use collagen in your skincare routine?

In the right formula, a peptide complex and HumaColl21® can help cultivate the radiant glow we all strive for. It’s also important to pick a product that has a supporting cast of ingredients to boost the efficacy of the collagen.

Orora bioactive collagen cream and serum have all these things which make them both powerful and efficacious collagen boosting treatments. Both formulations are infused with HumaColl21® which has been proven in clinical trials to decrease wrinkle size, reduce redness and increase elasticity by an impressive 107% within four weeks. It’s also backed with a peptide complex, the building blocks of collagen, to boost skin’s regenerative properties.

The other key active ingredients that fortify these products are niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) which improves skin texture. Hyaluronic acid, a powerful humectant that brings and holds moisture to the surface of the skin. To naturally seal in that moisture, plant-based squalene (derived from olives) is all used. Finally, two unique probiotics—Fermented Filtrate and Lactobacillus Ferment—work together to strengthen the skin’s microbiome, protect against environmental aggressors and reduce sensitivity.

About orora

Orora Skin Science is a holistic beauty brand dedicated to bringing the world's most unique and effective ingredients to skin care. Orora partners with cutting-edge science to make the latest innovations accessible for those seeking the next frontier of beauty.

Orora launched in 2021 with a product line formulated with the first vegan, bioidentical human collagen ingredient in a skincare product line in North America.