The short answer is no. The long answer is probably, yet still probably no. To know why it helps to understand a little bit more regarding collagen and how it’s made.
Collagen is the main structural protein in human connective tissues, most notably our skin. The vast majority of the scleroprotein in our skin is found within the derma (the second layer of skin that sits at a lower place the epidermis), wherever it's additionally made. Skin cells within the derma (fibroblasts) synthesize the scleroprotein that holds the remainder of the dermis along, giving our skin its underlying structure.
As for the structure of collagen itself, it’s kind of like a braid or rope: Individual amino acids link up to create long chains, that bundle along with forming thicker strands. Those strands then twist and coil around each other to form triple helices. Finally, those helices connect end to finish and stack on top of every other to form clusters known as fibrils. In other words, collagen is a pretty complicated and big molecule.
That’s why creams formulated with pure collagen simply can’t live up to their lofty claims - those large braided molecules are simply too massive to penetrate your cuticle, and undoubtedly too huge to get down into the dermis where the $64000 magic happens. Thus, even if scleroprotein creams feel nice and should facilitate moisturize the skin, that’s concerning it in terms of advantages.
“Your skin might feel softer and smoother [or] your wrinkles might look less prominent, however that's all an illusion—that's just what's happening on the surface,” Suzan Obagi, M.D., UPMC specialist and American Academy of cosmetic surgery president, tells SELF. “It's not building collagen.”
To get around the sizing issue, most lotions, potions, and pills touting collagen as the main ingredient currently truly contain hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides. (Fun fact: Gelatin could be a form of hydrolyzed collagen!).
Essentially, hydrolyzed collagen has been broken down into smaller chains of amino acids referred to as peptides, John Zampella, M.D., NYU Langone dermatologist, tells SELF. Some researchers and dermatologists believe these peptides “can traverse the skin cells in your outer skin barrier and build their way into the dermis, primarily [providing] the building blocks for fibroblasts to create new collagen,” Dr. Zampella says.
And it will appear plausible that applying a cream chock-full of those collagen precursors may help increase collagen production down the line, given that those peptides do eventually build their way into the dermis. However, this theory hasn’t been tested, including experimentally tested.
Surprisingly enough, there's some research to recommend that oral collagen could improve skin appearance. Through a minimum of 3 recent studies, taking collagen peptides orally is related to improved skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling, as compared to placebos. However, these studies come with some asterisks: They’re on the small side (around sixty participants) and were short-term (4 to twelve weeks), and they targeted only on women over thirty-five.
The determined results could be thanks to rose collagen production or some other mechanism. However, either means, they’re mild at best and we have other choices (such as retinoids) that are more likely to give advantages. Plus, it’s vital to remember that supplements aren’t FDA-regulated or tested the means medicine are, thus you don’t essentially understand what you’re getting or how well it could work.
And if you eat a normal, balanced diet (including protein-rich foods, for example, meat, eggs, dairy, and beans), you’re probably already getting all the collagen you want.