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Collagen - powder, drink or cream?

  • Hydrolyzed Collagen supplements or collagen peptides are easier to digest and absorb because they are broken down. 
  • Collagen drinks and powder made with hydrolyzed collagen peptides have similar bioavailability and absorption. 
  • Unlike collagen cream, topical retinol can penetrate deeper into the skin to activate the anti-aging process and improve wrinkles and fine lines.


Collagen provides numerous health benefits that enhance health and quality of life. Although our body makes collagen naturally, its production reduces as we grow older. Collagen supplements are one of the best ways to increase the body’s collagen production. However, picking a suitable collagen product is essential for the best outcomes. 

Collagen products are available in many forms; such as creams, liquids, powders, etc. With so many choices, how do you decide on the best one? In this article, we’ll compare different forms of collagen products to help you make the right choice. 





What is collagen? 


Collagen is a protein that functions as one of the primary structural components of our skin. It can be found in bones, tendons, and ligaments. Collagen keeps our tissues robust, supple, and resilient enough to tolerate strain.

There are at least 28 varieties of collagen. However, types I, II, and III are the most abundant in the human body. Type I collagen is found in the highest concentrations in bone, ligaments, tendons, skin, hair, nails, and the gut lining. Type II is predominantly found in cartilage. Skin, muscle, and blood arteries all contain type III collagen.

However, starting at age 25, collagen production gradually declines by around 1% annually. You may experience wrinkles, tighter tendons and ligaments, weaker muscles, joint discomfort, and even gastrointestinal issues when collagen levels decline and disintegrate in the skin.

You may boost your collagen levels by consuming collagen-rich foods like bone broth, organ meats, or collagen supplements. 


What are collagen peptides?


Collagen peptides ( or Hydrolyzed collagen) are collagen molecules that have been broken down further so that the body can more easily absorb them. Hydrolyzing makes collagen peptides water-soluble, simplifying their incorporation into food.

Peptides derived from collagen tend to take on the properties of the collagen from which they were initially isolated. Many collagen peptide supplements originate from hydrolyzed collagen or marine collagen. Type I collagen is abundant in both sources, while Type III collagen is especially plentiful in hydrolyzed collagen peptides.

Unlike collagen peptides, collagen has a low bioavailability. Thus, even though collagen may be the end goal, collagen peptides may be the most efficient route there.  


Benefits of Collagen peptides 


Easily digestible source of protein 


Given that they have already undergone some digestion before being consumed, collagen peptides are a gentle source of protein for your stomach.


Reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines 


By strengthening the collagen in the skin, collagen peptides may aid hydration and suppleness. Wrinkles and fine lines are lessened as a result. 


They promote healthy bones and joints


Because collagen is the primary structural protein in bones, decreasing collagen production as you age can lead to diminished bone mineral density and muscle mass. Collagen peptides can promote healthy bones. They may assist in restoring the collagen your body loses over time. Supplementing collagen peptides benefits joint health by strengthening the connective tissues.


Improves heart health 


Collagen peptides may be helpful for heart health by supporting arteries and blood vessels. 


Collagen drinks vs. collagen powders 


Collagen powder


These are hydrolyzed collagen peptides in powder form. Collagen powders are arguably the most common collagen products on sale because of their versatility. You can add to any food, from hot beverages like coffee and soup to cold ones like smoothies. Most collagen powders provide about 10 grams of protein per scoop. Thus, it can be used as a convenient source of additional protein.


Liquid collagen 


Hydrolyzed collagen peptides in a ready-to-drink form constitutes liquid collagen. For the most part, collagen drinks are essentially collagen powders that have already been dissolved in a liquid like water or beverages to improve the flavor. The amount of collagen protein in drinks is significantly lower than that found in powder because of the inclusion of numerous other substances such as vitamins, juices, caffeine, oils, etc.



People consuming collagen supplements and collagen powder



Which is better, Collagen drinks or powder? 


Which collagen supplement you choose to use is a personal matter. The source and quality of the collagen in the product are the two most crucial factors when shopping for a collagen supplement.

Collagen peptides are present in powders and liquids; therefore, their bioavailability and absorption are comparable. However, there are some distinctions between the liquid and powder forms. Let’s see how they compare.


Scientific Studies


Collagen powder has been the subject of research, and its efficacy has been established. We don’t know if liquid collagen is better than powder collagen because there haven’t been any studies comparing the two forms.




A serving of liquid collagen is not as concentrated as powdered collagen. Research supports a dosage range of 10–20 grams of collagen per day, although there is currently no recommended dosage. Compared to powders, collagen drinks typically contain half as much collagen per serving. 

So, to acquire the same quantity of collagen from liquid, you’ll need to drink a lot more fluid. Gram, for gram, collagen drinks might not be as efficient or cost-effective as the powders.


Collagen source


Depending on the brand, liquid collagen supplements are often made with marine collagen, mainly containing types I and II collagen. Though collagen powder can be from hydrolyzed collagen peptides or marine sources, most powder brands use hydrolyzed collagen peptides, which is rich in types I and III.  

Unless you eat only seafood, a product containing types I and lll collagen fibers will cover most of your needs, no matter what your purpose is for supplementing, 




Whether liquid or powdered collagen is more practical is a matter of preference. Since it is already blended into a drinkable form, some people choose liquid collagen because it is more convenient to take on the move. 

In contrast, you may need to do a little more work if you go for powder. But collagen powder may be more convenient for regular travelers because of its reduced bulk and potential for spillage. 

In addition, you have limited options for consuming liquid collagen. Yet powders can be easily included in various dishes and beverages.


Additional ingredients


In comparison to powders, liquid collagen supplements may contain a more extensive list of additives to enhance the flavor. Powdered collagen provides a significant dose with typically fewer additives. Aside from flavored varieties, the only ingredients in collagen powder are the peptides themselves.

Therefore, liquid collagen may be less appealing for individuals attempting to avoid additives and extra calories from sweeteners. 


Topical collagen


Topical collagen is moisturizers infused with collagen or collagen amino acids. It could be a collagen-containing cream, lotion, serum, etc. The theory behind this is that it will be taken in by the body through the skin, which is usually where people are most concerned about seeing results. 


Does topical and oral collagen offer the same health benefits?


A common belief is that topical collagen can slow the aging process. Although collagen plays an essential role in the skin, the topical application will not increase collagen levels. 

However, collagen supplements are effective because, after ingestion, the body uses them to repair damaged connective tissues, including the skin. Thus, ingesting collagen is essential for its absorption by the body.

There is no evidence that topical application of collagen promotes collagen production. The epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer, is a multilayered barrier that prevents substances from entering the body. Most collagen is found in the dermis, the second layer of skin. Your topical collagen should penetrate this layer for maximum effect.

Typically, only molecules with a size of 500 Daltons or less can get through the epidermal barrier. Collagen molecules can’t penetrate the epidermis because they are too big (300,000 Daltons or more), let alone reach the dermis, where they are most needed. 

Collagen creams may improve the appearance of your skin by moisturizing it and improving wrinkles. Still, they will not restore your skin’s natural collagen levels. However, collagen cream made with hydrolyzed collagen peptides offers a more promising result. Therefore, while applying collagen creams might help soften the skin temporarily, oral collagen will provide anti-aging benefits to the skin and the rest of your body from within. It might be better to complement topical collagen with oral supplementation for a stronger anti-aging effect. 



Infographic differentiating between collagen, hydrolized collagen, and collagen drinks



Can you promote skin anti-aging through other topical applications? 


Certain nutritional substances support collagen formation and improve skin aging when applied to the skin. One such compound is retinol.

As a vitamin A derivative, retinol has numerous cosmetic applications. Using topical Retinol stimulates collagen development. Unlike collagen molecules, those of retinol serum can travel deeper into the skin to activate the anti-aging process. As a result, wrinkles and fine lines visibly improve.

Yet, retinol makes skin more susceptible to sunlight, and its long-term use raises the risk of skin cancer. When using retinol products, it’s crucial to protect your skin from the sun with sunscreen and stay out of the sun. In addition, seeing an improvement while using topical retinol typically takes many months.




Hydrolyzed collagen or peptides are your best bet if you’re looking to supplement your diet with collagen. Your body will have an easier time absorbing and using the protein because it has been broken down. Still, it must be ingested and absorbed into the bloodstream instead of by topical applications.

The choice between collagen drinks and powder is entirely up to you. However, you may prefer powdered collagen if you’re looking for a supplement with a higher collagen concentration per serving and fewer additives. Moreover, the benefits of collagen have only been studied with collagen powders. More importantly, search for a high-quality collagen product certified by a third party to ensure safety and purity. 

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