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Do Collagen Peptide Serums Actually Work?

Written by: Jack Levinson



Time to read 6 min

One of the most popular and effective ingredients in the fight against skin aging is collagen. Available in an ever-growing variety of consumable forms, collagen supplements are easy to find and can be seamlessly incorporated into one's daily routines.

As these supplements have grown in popularity over the years, innovations in science have worked to harness the benefits of collagen in a more streamlined product: collagen peptides, also known as hydrolyzed collagen. These are often proclaimed to be among the best products to walk back the aging process, improving skin elasticity, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and revitalizing dull skin.

With so much fanfare, it's easy to wonder if collagen peptides really live up to the hype. Do collagen peptides work? And if so, how do they do it? Read on to learn everything you've wanted to know about collagen serums.

What are Collagen Peptide Serums?

A new and improved version of collagen supplement, collagen peptides feature a hydrolyzed version of the substance – in other words, one that has been broken down into its most essential amino acids to make it easier for the body to absorb. This is why you will find hydrolyzed collagen in so many skin care products.

So, what do collagen peptides do? Beyond introducing refined versions of the protein into the body, they help stimulate collagen production naturally. By promoting increased collagen synthesis, collagen serums can prompt the body to "turn back time," increasing cell turnover, making up for lost collagen, and restoring skin to the radiant glow of our youth.

The Role of Collagen in Your Skin

woman face

Though you may not realize it, your body already produces collagen molecules, and many of them. In fact, it is the body's most plentiful protein, being renewed and replenished on a regular basis. It is comprised of the amino acids proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline, which work in tandem with vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese to carry out proper functioning.

Collagen serves many roles in the body, from fortifying our connective tissue to aiding in wound healing to maintaining healthy joint functions. Perhaps most famously of all, it is the substance that keeps our skin supple, elastic, and youthful, providing it with structure and helping replace dead skin cells.

The body's natural collagen production is at its strongest when we are young, but it begins to wane after the age of 25, leading to signs of aging, including wrinkles, uneven skin texture and skin tone, and sagging. In a way, it's easiest to see how much collagen does for our skin by seeing what happens when collagen production decreases.

Collagen Serums: Ingredients and Claims

With so many collagen products on the market, it can be hard to know which ones to trust. Every collagen serum will claim to have many benefits, but they are not all created equal. So, what should you keep in mind?

Not all products will promote collagen production in the body. Collagen peptides are designed to do this, while other types of collagen products – such as collagen creams that are applied topically – provide hydration but do not stimulate collagen production.

Look at the ingredients. Most forms of collagen are made from animal products, which is worth keeping in mind if you are vegetarian or vegan. It is also worth taking a look if you have any allergies. After all, a collagen serum will be most effective if it is part of your daily skin care regimen, so you must ensure that your body will respond well to the product. To learn more about other ingredients that pair well with collagen serums, read the section below.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Different products are formulated with different intended uses. If you are looking for a collagen supplement to add to your daily skincare routine, you will surely be able to find one but do your homework to make sure you are choosing an appropriate product to add to your regular ritual.

Know Your Collagen Peptides

collagen peptides

As peptides have risen in popularity in the beauty sphere in recent years, you're likely to see the word on a lot of different product labels. However, not every peptide is the same, and not all promote collagen production. There are four general types of peptides, which serve four different functions:

  • Signal peptides, which alert our bodies to perform our natural processes (such as producing new collagen)
  • Carrier peptides, which deliver vital proteins and other restorative ingredients to the skin
  • Enzyme-inhibiting peptides which halt the factors that lead to decreased collagen production in the skin
  • Neurotransmitter-inhibiting peptides, which cut off communication between the muscles and nerves to reduce muscle contractions, promoting an anti-aging effect

As you can see, these are very different functions, some promoting collagen production and some producing other responses to fight signs of aging.

Lastly, when evaluating the ingredients of your collagen face serum, you should take a look at where the star ingredient falls in the list. (Hint: they should be toward the top.) You will get the richest collagen benefits from products that put your peptide front and center.

Other Common Ingredients in Peptide Serums

Not all peptide serums are the same. Since peptides improve our absorption of ingredients, they are known for working well in combination with other products. Some of the top ingredients to pair with hydrolyzed collagen include the following:

  • Vitamin C
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Niacinamide
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin A (Retinol)

These ingredients can help enhance the benefits of collagen, improving your overall appearance and reducing visible signs of aging.


A Note on Using Collagen Serums Containing Retinol

While many topical retinol products include hydrolyzed collagen, those with sensitive skin may find these formulas too intense. Don't worry: many experts argue that an effective collagen serum will produce the same result on its own.

Evaluating Manufacturer Claims

One of the best ways to cross-check a collagen serum is by looking into what the experts say. When evaluating skin care products, you should seek the opinion of a board-certified dermatologist, the most reliable authority on how collagen skincare products will work. This should not be hard to find, as there are many online articles providing recommendations from medical experts. Though a beauty editor may recommend a particular product, do your due diligence and double-check with a doctor to be sure the science is sound.

Incorporating Collagen Serum into Your Daily Skin Care Routine

Are you ready to select the collagen serum that will revitalize the appearance of your skin? You're almost ready. Just read on to learn about how and when to incorporate collagen serum into your skincare routine.

Adding Collagen Serum to Your Skin Care Regimen

Most experts recommend applying collagen serum after cleansing, exfoliating, and toning but before applying moisturizers. This will ensure that you get the greatest benefits from your collagen serum.

It's important also to take note of the other ingredients in your chosen collagen serum. Be careful around your eyes if using a product that contains vitamin C or retinol. These ingredients may also determine whether it is appropriate to apply your collagen serum during the day or at night.

You can use collagen serum alongside other serums. Experts recommend layering serums by consistency, applying the lightest first and heaviest last.

With this in mind, you're ready to find your new collagen serum!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are collagen peptide serums?

Hydrolyzed collagen serums are skin care products that stimulate collagen synthesis. These products increase the body's natural production of collagen, improving the overall appearance of the skin. It can fight off signs of aging by reducing fine lines and wrinkles and evening out skin tone, leaving you glowing skin.

How do I choose high-quality collagen serums?

To find a serum that will increase the body's collagen production and improve the appearance of your skin, do your research on which type of peptide will suit your needs. Find products containing ingredients like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Be sure to keep in mind the efficacy can vary based on the formulation of the product and the concentration of the peptides.

How does collagen affect your skin?

Collagen helps the skin retain its structure and hydration. This means collagen supplements serve multiple anti-aging purposes at once, from improving skin texture and coloration to providing hydrating benefits.

Written by:


Jack Levinson

Jack Levinson is a writer born and raised in Los Angeles. He received his bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. When not writing, his interests include the arts, cooking, and exploring the California coast.

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Reviewed by:


Sanober Pezad Doctor, MD

Dr. Sanober Doctor is a dual-board certified dermatologist, & a leading expert in Integrative and holistic Dermatology. She is a proactive, compassionate medical practitioner with a thorough understanding of mind-body-spiritual wellness.

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