Collagen is a non-water soluble protein found in animal connective tissue or in marine life. This protein is composed of the amino-acids Glycine, Proline, Hydroxyproline and Arginine. There are 25 types of collagen in the body and, along with elastin, they give skin texture and structure. Collagen makes up approximately 30% of the proteins within the body, and a major component of skin, hair, and nails. It is made in the dermis and helps with skin firmness, and is the cement that holds everything together. Collagen also protects the skin by preventing absorption and spreading of pathogenic substances, environmental toxins, micro – organisms and cancerous cells. It is also vital for skin elasticity, creating suppleness. and is important for the constant renewal of skin cells.1

Collagen microscopically occurs in elongated fibrils and is a triple-helical structure. Collagen is further packed into fibrillar collagen types with hexagional or quasi hexagonal shapes. The packing may be ‘sheet-like’ or microfibrillar. 1

With age, collagen production slows and the cells structures weaken. The skin gets thinner and is easier to damage, hair gets lifeless, skin sags and wrinkles.1

Since collagen molecules are too large to actually penetrate into the skin, collagen products have no effect on the collagen production within the skin – a common myth in the skin care world. But topically it is an excellent water binding ingredient that holds the skin’s natural hydration, keeping the skin looking soft and plump. Collagen is a film-former and can hold many times its own weight in water so it protects the skin from moisture loss, making it an excellent ingredient in lotions and creams for all skin types, particularly because it is very gentle and non-irritating. 2

Although topical collagen won’t help you to rebuild new collagen, there are agents that have been shown clinically to boost its production. This includes agents such as vitamin C, madecassoside, soy, certain peptides and retinol.3


For example:

La Roche Posay Active C XL – is formulated with vitamin C at a 5% concentration PLUS a photostable, broad spectrum SPF 12 protection with Mexoryl XL and Mexoryl SX.
La Roche Posay Redermic XL – combines vitamin C and effective sun filtering agents with madecassoside, another effective collagen booster.
Reversa Skin Firming Gel – is formulated with soy isoflavones and other botanical extracts to boost collagen production
Neostrata Wrinkle Repair – with 5% Matrixyl has been shown to help eliminate fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating collagen synthesis3


Dr. Brandt Collagen Booster is a concentrated proprietary blend of amino acids which make up collagen. Results from in vitro testing showed enhanced production of collagens I and 3, and clinically there was an improvement in measured skin density.


Many other topical agents which can boost collagen production have been studied, 4 of which are cited below:

In their 2007 article in Dermatologic Therapies, Mehta and Fitzpatrick summarized that endogenous growth factors play an important role in reversing the effects of skin aging. Topical application of human growth factors in multiple clinical studies has been shown to reduce the signs and symptoms of skin aging, including statically significant reduction in fine lines and wrinkles and increase in dermal collagen synthesis.4

Choi’s 2009 study strongly suggested that the Stabilized Ascorbyl Pentapeptide (SAP) compound is a good candidate as a cosmetic ingredient. Vitamin C and peptide are both useful compounds for collagen biosynthesis in cosmeceuticals but the instability of these compounds limit their application in these industries. Choi reported the development of another novel compound, (SAP), which physically is much more stable than L-ascorbic acid in water and the ability of SAP to promote collagen biosynthesis is greater than that of L-ascorbic acid or the KTTKS peptide alone. Importantly, the SAP compound displays no cytotoxicity at a high concentration (5 mM). 5

In SJ Kim’s 2010 study, 50 Korean plants were screened, and the fruit of Combretaceae was selected for further structural isolation due to its potent efficacy. 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-beta-D-glucose (PGG) was isolated from the crude extract. PGG displayed significant elastase and hyaluronidase inhibitory activities; also, treatment of PGG on rabbit articular chondrocytes significantly induced the type II collagen expression. Thus, SJ Kim postulated that PGG might be used cosmetically as an active anti-aging ingredient.6

JA Kim’s 2012 study showed that 3-5 kDa COS can also be used to develop topical applications for antiphotoaging cosmeceuticals, as it enhances collagen synthesis. The effect of 3-5 kDa chitooligosaccharide (COS) on the expression of collagen-degrading matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and collagen synthesis was investigated using ultraviolet (UV)-A irradiated dermal fibroblasts. The 3-5 kDa COS inhibited the expression of the collagenases MMP-1, MMP-8, and MMP-13 and enhanced the expression of the collagen synthetic markers procollagen, type I, III, and IV collagens. Thus, topical 3-5 kDa COS helped to regulate collagen degradation and collagen synthesis in the UV-A irradiated dermal fibroblasts.7

1), “Collagen…What is Collagen” By Dr Ananya Mandal,

3) “Role of Collagen in Skin Care”

Posted by Sharmani on July 11th, 2008

4) Mehta RC, Fitzpatrick RE. “Endogenous growth factors as cosmeceuticals.” Dermatol Ther. 2007 Sep-Oct;20(5):350-9.

5) Choi HI, Park JI, Kim HJ, Kim DW, Kim SS. “A novel L-ascorbic acid and peptide conjugate with increased stability and collagen biosynthesis.”Bottom of Form VBMB Rep. 2009 Nov 30;42(11):743-6.

6)Kim SJ, Sancheti SA, Sancheti SS, Um BH, Yu SM, Seo SY. “Effect of 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-beta-D-glucose on elastase and hyaluronidase activities and its type II collagen expression.” Acta Pol Pharm. 2010 Mar-Apr;67(2):145-50.

7) Kim JA, Ahn BN, Kong CS, Park SH, Park BJ, Kim SK. “Antiphotoaging effect of chitooligosaccharides on human dermal fibroblasts.” Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2012 Dec;28(6):299-306.