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.
Best collagen supplement: At a glance
|Best collagen supplement
|Collagen Zooki (~£28)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best collagen capsules
|Check price at Face the Future
|Best collagen creamer
|Dose & Co (~£30)
|Check price at LookFantastic
|Best value collagen supplement
|XSpan Labs (£9.97)
|Check price at Amazon
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. Given that collagen does not come from plants, vegan collagens are actually ‘builders’ or ‘boosters’ as they contain vitamins that enhance our own natural collagen production. Read more on Holland & Barrett’s website. We’ve included a couple of vegan collagen supplements in our roundup.
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 in 2023
1. Collagen Zooki: Best all-round collagen supplement
Price when reviewed: £28 | Check price at Amazon
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 features – Size: 14 sachets (5g collagen each); Format: Liquid; Collagen type: Marine; Vegan: No
2. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides: Best pure collagen peptides supplement
Price when reviewed: From £18 | Check price at Amazon
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 features – Size: 10, 14, 28 servings; Format: Soluble powder; Collagen type: Bovine; Vegan: No
3. Proto-Col Capsules: Best collagen capsules for easy absorption by your body
Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Face the Future
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 ‘2,500mg’ in 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 features – 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 when reviewed: £30 | Check price at LookFantastic
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 features – Size: 340g (10g collagen per serving); Format: Powder creamer; Collagen type: Bovine; Vegan: No
5. XSpan Labs Marine Collagen Capsules: Best value collagen supplement
Price when reviewed: £9.97 | Check price at 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 twenties. As you get older, though, you’ll need 2.5g+ of collagen per day, which means four of these capsules.
Key features – 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 when reviewed: From £18 | Check price at John Lewis
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 features – Size: 200ml, 500ml; Format: Liquid; Collagen type: Plant-based; Vegan: Yes
7. Raw Beauty Lab Vegan Collagen Superfood: Best vegan collagen powder supplement
Price when reviewed: £35 | Check price at Raw Beauty Lab
Raw Beauty Lab’s Vegan Collagen Superfood doesn’t just promise to transform skin from the inside out after 28 days. Users are encouraged to take a selfie before they start taking it, and then compare it with a follow-up selfie 6-8 weeks later. The website even includes a gallery of the brand’s clients’ before-and-after photos where you can assess the improvements.
This supplement does more than just build collagen too. It contains a blend of antioxidant-rich superfoods proven to smooth fine lines and improve skin texture. The delicious blend contains organic ingredients such as camu camu, raspberry, pink dragon fruit, sunflower seed, strawberry, carrot, baobab beetroot and inulin powders. The powder can be added to water, plant milk or smoothies.
Plus, the packaging is recyclable and compostable. And for every order, Raw Beauty Lab will plant a tree on your behalf, which is a nice bonus.
Key features – Size: 30 servings per packet; Format: Powder; Collagen type: Plant-based; Vegan: Yes