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A loyal Tousled reader ]wanted to know whether the claims and hype around the collagen supplement craze are true. Could taking a collagen supplement everyday work to transform for her fine Type 1 hair. We did the research and would like to present you with our findings.

The Trim on Collagen:

·       The studies on collagen supplement consumption and its effects on are small in scope, short in duration and not yet replicated by follow-up studies.


·       It’s not at all clear that eating collagen increases collagen levels in your body.


·       Traditional collagen supplements are made from collagen-rich animal tissues like the skin and bones of cattle or chicken, as well as fish scales and skin.


·       Make sure that any collagen supplement is from a reputable company that rigorously screens its product for heavy metals. Supplements are not regulated in the U.S., therefore it’s up to the U.S. manufacturer to make sure their products are safe. You can check to see if the manufacturer has been reprimanded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for violations.


·       Supplements marketed as “plant-based collagen” don’t actually contain collagen. Plant based supplements actually support collagen production within the body through a combination of amino acids, vitamins and minerals.


·       Your body’s natural collagen is depleted by: Consumption of more than 2 or 3 cups of coffee consumed per day, alcohol, lack of sleep, consumption of refined sugar, pollution, sun exposure.  

The Claims

After water, collagen is actually the most abundant occurring agent in our body. Collagen is the foundational building block for our connective tissues. Our body’s natural collagen production peaks in our early twenties and slowly declines as we age. The claims surrounding collagen and great hair are as follows:

1.       Provides Amino Acids That Can Be Used to Build Hair - Hair is primarily made up of the protein keratin. Your body uses several amino acids to build keratin — some of which can be found in collagen. When you consume collagen and other proteins, your body breaks them down into amino acids that are then used to build new proteins and compounds.


2.       Helps Fight Damage to Hair Follicles - Collagen can act as an antioxidant and fight damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds that develop in your body as a result of stress, air pollutants, smoking, poor dietary choices, alcohol, and other environmental influences. One study found that marine collagen was able to fight four different free radicals, while another study observed that the protein may be a more effective antioxidant than a well-known compound found in tea. Antioxidant potential of collagen in your body is unclear


3.       May Prevent Hair Thinning Associated With Aging - With age, your body becomes less efficient at producing collagen and replenishing cells in the dermis. This may be one of the reasons why hair gets thinner over time. Since hair grows out of your skin, the potential of collagen to counteract the effects of skin aging may contribute to better hair growth and decreased thinning. However, research on the impact of collagen on hair thinning is unavailable.


4.       May Help Slow Graying - Age-related hair graying is largely influenced by genetics, but free radical damage to the cells that produce hair color may also play a role. Without enough antioxidants to fight free radical damage, your hair may begin to gray. In fact, one test-tube study found that the antioxidant activity of gray hair follicles was much lower than that of hair follicles that still contained pigment. Research on the antioxidant effects of collagen in humans is currently lacking.


The facts

Tousled has searched high and low and read several articles and scientific studies (you are very welcome) and it appears that the marketing hype has gotten WAY ahead of the research on the benefits of collagen supplements. Collagen supplements are big business (4.27 billion USD in 2018). Companies are claiming everything from super-fast healing of wounds and improved joint health to reverse aging. Most collagen supplements are made of hydrolyzed collagen, which means that the collagen is easier for you to absorb. Collagen supplements are made from bovine (relating to or affecting cattle) products or poultry or marine (fish skin and fish scales) products.

All collagen supplements are not created equal, so if you decide to go the non-plant-based supplement route, you need to make sure that the product asserts that it has been carefully tested for heavy metals which travel in the bones and skin of the animal products. FACT: bones, skin, cartilage etc. tend to act as sponges for disease and metals that your body can’t cope with like copper, mercury, and arsenic. SCCCAARRYYY!!!

Animal vs. Mineral

If bovine or marine product consumption freaks you out or you ascribe to a vegetarian or vegan diet, check out some of the organic plant collagen support on the market. Note I said SUPPORT. Vegan or vegetarian supplements are not actually made of collagen. These products are collagen boosters, which mean that they boost the collagen that you have naturally occurring in your body. These boosters have a combination of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, E and Zinc that the body needs to make collagen. Some may also include plant extracts and herbs that are also found to help stimulate collagen production.

Another way to get the benefits of collagen without resulting to ingesting animal biproducts is to take individual amino acid supplements.

Tousled Tests Collagen

After reading a particularly good study featured in the Journal of Medical Nutrition & Nutraceuticals, Tousled decided to try a reputable collagen supplement for the next sixty days. The study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted by an independent Clinical Research Organization (Wales, UK) between April and July 2012. Eligible subjects were Caucasian, healthy, nonsmoking females aged 45-64 years of age who were not using other nutritional supplements. All subjects completed the study and no adverse events associated with the product were recorded.

We’ve selected one of our recommendations below: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. We’ll report back on any changes we see and will let you know if there are any adverse effects. At worst according to our research, we’ll be making expensive pee. At best we hope to see some gains in hair strength, shine, nail strength and condition (which is the strongest immediate (ish) indicator that something is working well ).

Go Natural

Supplements and powders are undoubtedly pricey. We worry about your pocketbook, wallet, and all things connected to receptacles carrying your hard earned money.

To that end, the cheapest and most nutritious way to ensure you maintain your natural collagen Is to make a good bone broth and eat lots of veggies and fruits high in vitamin A and vitamin C. Foods that contain these vitamins help reduce inflammation and help make collagen in the body. Vitamin C is also an essential co-factor in the biosynthesis of collagen. Grab that orange juice and chug!

Incorporate foods like almonds, spinach, kale, papaya, berries (super antioxidant rich), mushrooms, kidney beans, black beans, seeds: especially pumpkin, squash, sunflower, and chia and nuts: pistachio, peanut, and cashew into your diet for a glow.


Tousled Recommends

Tousled is not run by doctors or dermatologists or any medical professionals. Tousled makes no claims to dispense medical advice to our readers.  Before adding any type of supplement to your diet, it’s important to talk to a qualified health practitioner. That said, these are our picks:

1.       Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides - Good Manufacturing Practices facility. Their collagen peptides are sourced from the hide of Brazilian grass-fed, pasture raised cattle. Hides are a byproduct of the cattle industry, which means the cattle are first harvested for their meat. The hide is then used to source the collagen peptides.  Vital Proteins’ Marine Collagen is sourced from red snapper scale from the South Pacific, a byproduct of the seafood industry. This marine collagen has been verified by the non-GMO Project.


2.       Primal Kitchen Collagen Peptides - These collagen peptides are non-GMO, free of dairy, whey, soy, and gluten. They undergo rigorous heavy-metal testing to ensure the integrity and quality of their products. Primal Kitchen’s collagen comes from grass-fed cows in Brazil and Germany that are feeding on “off-forest land” to prevent destruction of the rainforest. “Our collagen supplier has signed the G-4 agreement that was initiated by Greenpeace to ensure that no new rainforest impact is created based on intensive monitoring and requirements of the G-4 agreement,” says Morgan Buehler, Co-Founder and COO of Primal Kitchen.


3.       Great Lakes Collagen HydrolysateCertified Kosher, Great Lakes uses beef collagen from grass-fed cattle sourced from Argentina and Brazil. The conditions under which the cattle are raised fit standards for the American Grassfed Association. Great Lakes products do not contain any major allergens.


4.       mykind Organics Plant Collagen Builder - Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, made only from organic plant foods—and can build the body’s own natural production of collagen. Made from over 30 real, nutritious organic, family-farmed whole foods, with specifically chosen ingredients to help support the body’s own collagen production—Organic Plant Collagen Builder can help restore and maintain youthful levels of collagen, keratin and elastin.


Check out our bone broth recipe for your own homemade dose of collagen on Instagram and Facebook.