Every year, new “superfoods” rise through the ranks in the wellness industry. First, it was fish oil, then it was chia seeds and then it was quinoa. Now it’s collagen, a fine tasteless white powder you can mix into almost any liquid (hot or cold) that promises to make your skin glow brighter, your hair grow longer, your nails grow thicker and your muscles grow stronger.
Learn what exactly collagen is and how it can potentially help you as a supplement to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Expert Tip: Seek out supplement products with transparent labels that list high-quality ingredients, like many of these highly-rated collagen supplements you can order on Amazon.
What Is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein found in the connective tissues of animals. It’s found in skin, nails, hair, tendons, ligaments and bones. In humans, collagen is the most abundant protein in the body — up to 80 percent of your skin is composed of collagen, according to The Cleveland Clinic.
Collagen is important for the health of many body parts and systems, and the purported benefits include things like clearer, tauter skin, fewer joint aches, increased muscle mass and heart health.
While some studies have observed benefits of collagen supplementation, keep in mind that the majority of evidence on these relationships is still relatively new and some studies are flawed. In general, supplementation of any nutrient doesn’t outweigh a poor diet, so don’t expect collagen to act as a magic bullet if you aren’t eating your fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins.
Where Does Collagen Powder Come From?
Companies source collagen from a number of different species, but mainly cows. When looking for collagen products, you’ll likely come across the word “bovine” about a hundred times. Some companies also source collagen from marine animals, chickens or pigs.
The Best Way To Take Collagen
Most people take collagen in some sort of beverage. Hydrolyzed collagen dissolves very easily into hot or cold liquid, so you can add it to water, coffee, fruit juice, smoothies, protein shakes, tea or any other beverage.
1. Best Overall Collagen: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder
Amazon rating: 4.7 stars (27,000+ reviews)
Prime eligible: Yes
Cost: Subscribe & Save Price: $38.68 | Sale Price: $42.98 (14% off) | Reg. Price: $49.99
Known for its product potency and responsible sourcing, Vital Proteins brand has made a name for itself — it’s become the gold standard of collagen products. The array of Vital Proteins products can feel overwhelming for collagen newbies, so for a no-frills but highly effective product, go for the original unflavored collagen peptides.
This collagen will absorb easily in cold or hot liquids. Even better, it doesn’t have any taste to it, so you can mix it with virtually anything — even plain water! Vital Proteins collagen peptides also contain hyaluronic acid and vitamin C for additional hair and skin benefits.
Glowing review: “I started taking this after I used a full tub of another popular brand. I didn’t see much difference in my skin with that one. This one…holy cow! My skin looks so much more plumped and fine lines GONE. A little about me. I am 43, and do take care of my skin, but my skin has started to slightly sag. It doesn’t look like that now. Another bonus is I don’t hear all the snap, crackle and popping when I get out of bed. My hair and nails grow like crazy!! This is a fabulous product! Highly recommend!”
2. Best On-the-Go Collagen: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptide Stick Packs
Amazon rating: 4.7 stars (129 ratings)
Cost: Sale Price: $38.99 | Reg. Price: $41.02 | FREE Prime Shipping
This is the same brand and exact product as above, except the collagen comes in convenient stick packs instead of in one big tub. Individual servings are always a bit pricier per serving than bulk packages, but you pay for convenience. Each box contains 20 single-serve packets that are great for travel.
Glowing review: “I‘ve used collagen for a while now and wasn’t sold on the portable packets at first but now that I’ve used them I really find the value in having them portable and already portioned for me. I also can verify the dissolvability of this product is superior to so many others I’ve tried. Vital Proteins is now my go-to!”
3. Best Budget-Friendly Collagen: Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate
Amazon rating: 4.6 stars (14,000+ reviews)
Free Prime Shipping eligible: Yes
If you want Vital Proteins–esque quality for less money, check out Great Lakes Gelatin, an Illinois-based company that was making and selling collagen products long before it was trendy (it’s been around since 1922!). This collagen hydrolysate from Great Lakes Gelatin has the same super-fine texture as Vital Proteins collagen peptides, and it absorbs into liquid just as well (if not better, especially in warm liquids — I know from personal experience).
At $24.99 for a 16-ounce container, the price of Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate comes down to $1.56 per ounce whereas Vital Proteins will cost you over $2 per ounce ($50 for a 20-ounce container). It is worth noting, though, that Great Lakes Collagen contains 12 grams of collagen per serving as compared to Vital Proteins’ 20 grams per serving. The price may equal out in the end.
Glowing review: “I bought this to use with my bullet coffee and with muscle repair as I’m training for a marathon. Then I noticed my face was looking AMAZING! What?? All the money I pour in to face creams never did as much as this product. I’m 60 and my face has almost zero lines… My back and joint pain have decreased so much, most days I don’t need any pain meds.”
4. Best Mixed Collagen: Ancient Nutrition Multi-Collagen Protein Powder
Amazon rating: 4.6 stars (12,000+ reviews)
Cost: Sale Price: $39.96 (20% off) | Reg. Price: $49.95 | FREE Prime Shipping
If there’s one thing many people don’t know about collagen, it’s that there isn’t just one type of collagen. There are several, as collagen can be sourced from various animal species, and it comes from different parts of the body. Different types of collagen might provide different benefits, and some companies have capitalized on that by selling dozens of collagen products for specific uses. The research isn’t really clear enough to justify spending $30 to $50 on several different collagen products each month, though.
But, if you feel like you might be missing out on the benefits of varying collagen types, try this multi-collagen protein powder from Ancient Nutrition. In one powder, you get the following types of collagen: hydrolyzed bovine hide collagen peptides, eggshell membrane collagen and hydrolyzed fish collagen peptides, along with chicken bone broth protein concentrate.
Glowing review: “I have been using another, far more expensive brand of collagen and I was going broke as that company continued to offer collagen for joints, collagen for nails, collagen for skin, collagen for hair, collagen with veggies, collagen with greens, collagen with spirulina, collagen with liver, collagen with whey, etc., etc., etc. This company was charging a whopping $45 – $115 per product! I felt like if I didn’t get them all, I would not be healthy!
At about half of the cost of even one container of the ‘other’ brand, I get five different collagen types in a single daily dose. If I want to add green or red powders, I can do it. If I want spirulina, I can add it. If I want it plain, that is OK, too. This is the most whole collagen powder that I have ever seen. It isn’t overpriced and it does the job without all the overkill I’ve seen elsewhere.”
5. Best Collagen Builder for Vegans: Wild Fuel Vegan Collagen Builder
Amazon rating: 5 stars (121 reviews)
Cost: Sale Price with $3 Coupon: $16.99 | Reg. Price: $19.99 | FREE Prime Shipping
First things first: There is no such thing as vegan collagen. If you come across a company marketing vegan collagen, run far and run fast. As explained above, collagen is a protein found in the connective tissues of animals. There’s no plant-based collagen alternative, but there are plant-based ingredients that can spark your body’s own collagen production, such as what you’ll find in this Wild Fuel Vegan Collagen Builder (notice how it’s called “collagen builder”).
The purpose of a collagen builder is to provide your body with the building blocks of collagen rather than supplement collagen directly. It’s a great option for vegans and vegetarians who want nothing to do with animal products. Wild Fuel Vegan Collagen Builder contains various vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants known to contribute to healthy hair, skin and nails, as well as connective tissues including tendons and ligaments.
Glowing review: “I used to take a collagen supplement because I have knee pain from being a runner for a long time. However, I began eating a vegetarian diet last year so I gave up the collagen supplements. It’s great to see a good vegan option on the market and I believe I’ll be restarting my collagen regimen with Wild Fuel’s.”
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