Collagen Science Update – May 2023 Edition

Beauty and Skin Health

Collagen is an important and abundant scaffolding protein that provides smooth, firm, and elastic skin. Its production is known to decrease with age and as such, collagen-based supplementation has become an essential way for consumers to repair skin damage and restore skin elasticity in pursuit of beauty and skin health (Reilly & Lozano, 2021). Skin aging is dependent on many intrinsic (i.e., genetics, hormones, metabolism, etc.) and extrinsic (i.e., sun exposure, chemicals, air pollution, lifestyle, etc.) factors. These factors impact the skin’s connective tissues, causing a decrease in the production of collagen fibers, elastin, proteoglycan, glycosaminoglycan (i.e., hyaluronic acid), and cartilage, which can lead to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduced elasticity, loss of skin integrity, dry skin, inadequate moisture retention, uneven skin tone, sagging eyelids, and under-eye bags (Al-Atif, 2022; Bianchi et al., 2022). Recent studies examining cellular fibroblasts found within the skin have provided a further understanding of how collagen can support cells, tissues, and organs. Fibroblasts produce type I collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycans, and their activation results in an increase of these proteins and polysaccharide compounds, which are responsible for the skin’s ability to maintain elasticity, resilience, and moisture, (Reilly & Lozano, 2021).  

Collagen in Beauty and Skin Health

Younger skin consists of 80% type I collagen and 15% type III collagen, and molecular analyses have shown that collagen fibers become thicker and shorter with age, resulting in the reduction of type I collagen (Bianchi et al., 2022). Oral and topical collagen supplements are commonly used in dermatology and cosmetics to slow the process of skin aging and to promote skin health. Many of these products contain collagen sourced from bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin of cattle, pigs, chickens, fish, or other aquatic animals, and some may undergo a hydrolysis process to obtain bioactive peptides (Campos et al., 2023). Current research has focused on the supplementation of hydrolyzed collagen peptides for improving signs of skin aging due to its diverse bioactivity, high bioavailability and biocompatibility, and low molecular weight of peptides, which allows for ease of digestion, absorption, and distribution throughout the body (Bianchi et al., 2022). Collagen has also been found to have wound repairing properties by promoting the growth and production of cells during tissue restoration (Fu et al., 2023). Collagen supplements are considered nutraceutical products because in addition to nutritional functions (i.e., a source of amino acids), physiological benefits and protection against certain diseases can also be obtained (Campos et al., 2023).

This edition highlights three recent publications that provide new insights on the use of oral and topical collagen supplements for beauty and skin health. 

Oral Intake of Collagen Peptide NS Improves Hydration, Elasticity, Desquamation, and Wrinkling in Human Skin: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Study

Collagen peptide NS (CPNS) is sourced from tilapia fish scales and manufactured to contain the bioactive peptides, Gly-Pro (4%) and Pro-Hyp. A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial investigated the effects of CPNS on skin wrinkling, desquamation, elasticity, and hydration. One hundred healthy female participants, aged 30 to 60 years, with dry facial skin and wrinkles around the eyes (i.e., crow’s feet) were analyzed. The participants were randomly included in the CPNS group (n = 54) or the placebo group (n = 46) and given four CPNS tablets containing 1650 mg once per day, or four placebo tablets once per day, for an intervention duration of 12-weeks. Participants who completed the study were instructed to not alter their daily skincare routine, to not undergo dermatological procedures, to not make any changes to their lifestyle or dietary habits, and to not have excessive sunlight exposure during the course of the study. Additionally, the participants agreed to only use cosmetics provided by the clinical trial center to ensure skin care consistency. Measurements of skin hydration, trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), skin desquamation, skin wrinkling, and skin elasticity were evaluated at four different times throughout the study (0-week, 4-weeks, 8-weeks, and 12-weeks). Also, a safety test was administered two days after the end of the intervention period. Compared to the placebo group, CPNS significantly improved skin desquamation and skin hydration after 4-weeks as well as skin wrinkling and skin elasticity after 12-weeks. The CPNS was well tolerated by study participants and no adverse effects were apparent during the clinical study period. This study concluded that the bioactive peptides contained in CPNS (Gly-Pro and Pro-Hyp) are effective in improving skin hydration, elasticity, desquamation, and wrinkling, and may be an alternative treatment for photoaging in the nutraceutical or cosmetic industry.  

Access to the study: 

Reference: Lee, M., Kim, E., Ahn, H., Son, S., & Lee, H. (2023). Oral intake of collagen peptide NS improves hydration, elasticity, desquamation, and wrinkling in human skin: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. Food & Function, 14:3196-3207, 

Non-Denatured Yak Type I Collagen Accelerates Sunburned Skin Healing by Stimulating and Replenishing Dermal Collagen

One of the most common skin conditions caused by excessive UV exposure is sunburn and can result in redness, inflammation, bumps, blisters, flaking, and/or hyperpigmentation of the skin. Since the skin consists mainly of collagen, excessive exposure to UV radiation can result in decreased procollagen mRNA expression, collagen polypeptide chain breakage, and cross-linking of collagen fibers. The cattle species, yak, live in high-altitude environments and have been exposed to tremendous amounts of UV radiation throughout their evolution. Due to the unique environment that yaks are raised in, protein domains that sense the extra-cellular environment are found to be abundant within this species. This study examined the effects of non-denatured type I collagen cream prepared from yak hide on acutely UV injured skin in mouse models. The results of this study showed that four days of treatment with the yak collagen type I (YCI) cream improved the sunburned mouse skin to a healthy state, enhanced epithelialization and collagen deposition, increased collagen volume and hydroxyproline (Hyp) content, and shortened the recovery time. This study concluded that non-denatured YCI cream is an improved treatment of sunburn, indicating promising applications in cosmetics and dermatology.   

Access to the study: 

Reference: Fu, C., Shi, S., Tian, J., Gu, H., Yao, L., & Xiao, J. (2023). Non-denatured yak type I collagen accelerates sunburned skin healing by stimulating and replenishing dermal collagen. Biotechnology Reports, 37(2023):e00778, 

Hydrolyzed Fish Collagen Serum from By-Product of Food Industry: Cosmetic Product Formulation and Facial Skin Evaluation

Collagen obtained from fish processing industry by-products is currently being studied as an alternative source of collagen, gelatin, and hydrolyzed collagen (HC) production. Fish skin is composed of type I collagen and amino acid peptides such as proline, hydroxyproline, and glycine, which are proven to be beneficial in a nourishing skin product. This study formulated a cosmetic serum containing hydrolyzed fish collagen sourced from Asian seabass skin, evaluated the physiochemical properties and stability of the HC serum, and conducted a facial skin evaluation test on healthy volunteers. The formulated HC serum consisted of HC and vitamins C, E, and B3. The pH, viscosity, stability, microbiological, and heavy metal testing results of the HC serum were deemed stable, safe, and acceptable. Forty healthy participants (5 male and 35 female), aged 21 to 70 years, completed the study and applied 1 mL of the HC serum two times per day for one month. No adverse effects were reported throughout the course of the study. Skin analysis measurements were taken at day 0 (baseline), 2-weeks, and 4-weeks following the daily use of the HC serum to measure parameters such as wrinkles, skin roughness, spots, sensitivity, pores, UV spots, UV acne, and skin moisture. Daily use of the HC serum for two weeks resulted in significant facial skin improvements such as reduced pores, wrinkles, and UV acne, and increased skin moisture. This study concluded that HC serum containing hydrolyzed fish collagen obtained from fish processing industry by-products is a sustainable and effective material for antiaging and skin lightening cosmeceutical products. 

Access to the study:

Reference: Amnuaikit, T., Shankar, R., & Benjakul, S. (2022). Hydrolyzed Fish Collagen Serum from By-Product of Food Industry: Cosmetic Product Formulation and Facial Skin Evaluation. Sustainability, 14(16553). 

Bottom Line

Collagen is an essential protein that influences the smoothness, firmness, and elasticity of the skin. Recent applications involving oral and topical collagen supplementation have proven beneficial for achieving beauty and skin health. Advances in formulating collagen supplements from a variety of sources is an exciting opportunity for formulators to provide sustainable and effective nutraceutical products.


Al-Atif, H. (2022). Collagen Supplements for Aging and Wrinkles: A Paradigm Shift in the Fields of Dermatology and Cosmetics. Dermatology Practical & Conceptual, 12(1):e2022018. 

Bianchi, F. M., Angelinetta, C., Rizzi, G., Praticò, A., & Villa, R. (2022). Evaluation of the Efficacy of a Hydrolyzed Collagen Supplement for Improving Skin Moisturization, Smoothness, and Wrinkles. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 15(3), 48–52. 

Campos, L. D., Santos Junior, V. A., Pimentel, J. D., Carregã, G. L. F., & Cazarin C. B. B. (2023). Collagen supplementation in skin and orthopedic diseases: A review of the literature. Heliyon, 9(4):e14961,

Reilly, D. M., & Lozano, J. (2021). Skin collagen through the lifestages: Importance for skin health and beauty. Plastic and Aesthetic Research, 8, 2.