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Best collagen supplement 2021: The best collagen drinks, powders and capsules to keep your skin young

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We reveal the best collagen supplements to boost your body's levels of this age-proofing protein

Collagen is your body's natural knicker elastic, responsible for keeping your skin, muscles and soft tissues hydrated and taught. Your levels of this complex protein diminish fast as you get older, but the best collagen supplements do a fine job of keeping your levels topped up, and holding back the years in your skin.

When you're a youngster, your body synthesises all the collagen it needs from the amino acids in food like fish, meat, and protein-rich plant sources such as seeds. But your levels start to drop from the age of 25. "By the time you hit 45, your natural collagen levels have fallen by as much as 30%," says dermatologist Dr Nyla Raja. "By 60, most women have lost 80% of their collagen levels. So it's important that we seek it from external sources, such as collagen supplements."

Skip down the page to discover which collagen supplements we recommend, or read on for more info from skin experts on choosing the best collagen supplement for you.

READ NEXT: Best anti-ageing creams to keep your skin looking fresher and younger

Best collagen supplement: At a glance

  • Best collagen supplement: Collagen Zooki | Buy now
  • Best pure collagen peptides: Vital Proteins | Buy now
  • Best collagen capsules: Proto-col | Buy now
  • Best collagen creamer: Dose & Co | Buy now
  • Best value collagen supplement: XSpan Labs | Buy now
  • Best vegan collagen supplement: The Beauty Chef | Buy now

How to choose the best collagen supplement for you

Why do I need a collagen supplement?

In short, it keeps your skin looking young. "In the skin, collagen bonds with elastin and acts as an underlying structure," explains Dr Nyla Raja. "It's part of the extracellular matrix that determines the physical properties of body tissues. In other words, how we see the skin."

Dr Raja adds: "Collagen also plays a role in building keratin, the primary protein in your hair and nails." Collagen also supports the health of your muscles, cartilage, bones, gums, teeth, blood vessels and organs. So it's pretty important to top up your collagen stores with a good supplement as you get older.

The best collagen supplements are the ones that do the best job of mimicking your body's own collagen. As a rule, the more 'bio-available' a collagen supplement is, the better your body can absorb and utilise its collagen content.

"My preferred form of taking collagen is liquid, or powder that can be dissolved in liquid," says Dr Raja. "In a powder the collagen has usually been 'hydrolysed', which means large proteins have been broken down, making it easier to absorb."

Lesley Reynolds, co-founder of Harley Street Skin Clinic, told us: "Hydrolysed collagen has been broken down into small peptides, which are absorbed directly into the blood supply. This fools the body into thinking there’s a collagen disorder, thereby stimulating more collagen production."

Lesley adds: "When you're buying a collagen supplement, look for collagen hydrolysate, hydrolysed collagen, or collagen peptides at a daily dose of between 2.5g and 15g. This is the amount that appears to be safe and effective."

I'm vegan, can I still take a collagen supplement?

Most collagen supplements are meat and fish-based. The most bio-efficient collagen supplement is thought to be marine collagen, from fish or seaweed, rather than bovine collagen, derived from cows. That's good news if you're trying to cut down on red meat, but avoid marine collagen if you have a shellfish allergy.

But you can now get vegan collagen supplements, too. Vegan collagen is usually made from modified yeast, bacteria and plants such as acai. It may not be as efficient as Type I or IV collagen, but it is much better than nothing for vegans. Read more on Holland & Barrett's website. We've included a vegan collagen supplement in our recommendations.

What other ingredients should I look for in a collagen supplement?

Many collagen supplements also contain other skin-enriching nutrients, and together they help to enhance each other's benefits. According to Dr Raja: "I recommend looking to see if supplements include vitamin C, zinc and copper, because these nutrients are part of the process by which your body converts collagen."

Other ingredients you'll often spot in a collagen supplement are hyaluronic acid and bamboo silica, both of which help to hydrate your skin from the inside as well as from the outside.

The best collagen supplements you can buy now

1. Collagen Zooki: Best all-round collagen supplement

Price: £27.99 | Buy now from YourZooki

These citrus lime flavoured shots are a tasty way to get your daily dose of high-quality hydrolysed marine collagen – the type all our experts recommended as the best for fast, efficient absorption by your body.

Unlike powdered collagen drinks and creamers, Collagen Zooki's liquid shots don't have to be made up with water. Just whip open the 15ml packet, and down the hatch. It does taste a bit medicinal, so we put our shot in our coffee and it went down a treat. You could also dilute it with water like squash, or drizzle it onto your lunchtime yoghurt or smoothie.

Collagen Zooki contains no artificial sweeteners, just 100% natural sustainably sourced ingredients, including hydrolysed fish-based collagen peptides. The makers say they boost its absorption rate even further by "wrapping collagen peptides in phospholipids to create a barrier... from the harsh environment of the digestive system." So it's about as efficient a collagen supplement as you can get, and very convenient. And users love it. But at £28 for two weeks' supply, this is at the more expensive end of collagen supplements.

Key specs – Size: 14 sachets (5g collagen each); Format: Liquid; Collagen type: Marine; Vegan: No

Buy now from YourZooki


2. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides: Best pure collagen peptides supplement

Price: From £24.99 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

With each 5g teaspoonful of this unflavoured powder you get a full 5g of collagen protein. And it's not just any old collagen: this unflavoured powder is high-quality collagen peptides, the format your body finds easiest to absorb and use. It's easy enough to stir into liquid (it dissolves better in hot drinks), so you can stick it in your morning tea or coffee quite painlessly. Buyers report that they've noticed thicker hair and healthier nails since using it, and – the important bit – it doesn't change the taste of their morning cuppa.

Key specs – Size: 284g (£24.99), 567g (£39.99); Format: Soluble powder; Collagen type: Bovine; Vegan: No

Buy now from Cult Beauty


3. Proto-Col Capsules: Best collagen capsules for easy absorption by your body

Price: £29.78 | Buy now from Amazon

Collagen supplement specialist Pro-col has designed these capsules to make the collagen as bio-available as possible. The capsules use high-quality bio-active collagen peptides that your body can digest easily, releasing collagen that in turn triggers your body to produce its own collagen. They're also extremely convenient, if a bit on the large side, but be aware that the '2500mg' in Amazon's headline refers to the daily dose of four capsules. So if you're not a fan of swallowing tablets and can't face four of these a day, go for a powder supplement instead.

Key specs – Size: x120 (625mg collagen per capsule); Format: Capsule; Collagen type: Bovine; Vegan: No

4. Dose & Co Dairy-Free Collagen Creamer Vanilla: Best flavoured collagen drink

Price: £29.99 | Buy now from Holland & Barrett

This new vanilla-flavoured dairy-free creamer from top collagen supplement brand Dose & Co is reportedly a hit with the Kardashians. But don't let that put you off. This sweet powder transforms a cup of coffee into a rich, creamy, vanilla-flavoured treat to start your day. You can also stir it into yoghurt or ice cream, smoothies and porridge, or into a glass of warm milk before bed.

Ten grams of collagen per serving is quite a big hit, but this product doesn't mention anything about hydrolysed collagen or peptides, which are the bio-efficient types we're advised to look for. Dose & Co does also make an unflavoured collagen peptides powder, also from Holland & Barrett.

Key specs – Size: 340g (10g collagen per serving); Format: Powder creamer; Collagen type: Bovine; Vegan: No

Buy now from Holland & Barrett


5. XSpan Labs Marine Collagen Capsules: Best value collagen supplement

Price: £8.97 | Buy now from Amazon

The best collagen supplements don't come cheap, but XSpan Labs is a reliable maker of UK-made nutritional supplements that don't cost the earth. Its marine collagen capsules contain nothing but highly bio-available hydrolysed collagen. It's a fairly low dose, but one or two of these a day is probably about right if you're still in your 20s. As you get older, though, you'll need 2.5g+ of collagen per day, which means four of these capsules.

Key specs – Size: x60 (600mg collagen per capsule); Format: Capsule; Collagen type: Marine; Vegan: No

6. The Beauty Chef Collagen Inner Beauty Boost: Best vegan collagen supplement

Price: From £16 | Buy now from Cult Beauty

Vegan collagen isn't just wishful thinking. This skin-enhancing elixir is based on bio-fermented probiotics that boost your body's own collagen production, as well as providing a concentrated hit of plant-based protein from ingredients including organic maqui berry, acai, papaya, blueberry, goji berry and pomegranate powders. The drinkable blend also includes noted skin-nourishing ingredients grape seed extract, zinc and vitamin C, and is free from sugar, gluten and artificial colours.

All you need is 15ml per day, mixed with water or smoothie, or straight down the hatch if you prefer. Users hail it as a "wonderful product" with "a lovely taste" and visible benefits for their skin, hair and nails.

Key specs – Size: 200ml (£16), 500ml (£29); Format: Liquid; Collagen type: Plant-based; Vegan: Yes

Buy now from Cult Beauty


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