Plant-based Collagen vs Animal Collagen: What Works and What Doesn't.

(AKA the ultimate guide to collagen - backed by science)

Today I’m going to show you how you can firm your skin with Vegan Collagen in just 28 days, and how you can use ingredients in your own kitchen as sources of vegan collagen. But before we begin, I want to share 2 big secrets the beauty industry doesn’t want you to know;

Secret #1

Scientific research from the last 2 decades has conclusively proven that what you consume has a bigger impact on skin youthfulness than what you put on top. 

It comes as no surprise that the skincare industry has been somewhat reluctant to share this fact. Whilst natural ingredients are currently in the limelight, there is little mention of the transformative effect of dietary nutrients on skin youthfulness (I’ll share more below 👇 on the best anti-ageing beauty foods to incorporate in your diet and the science that backs them up).

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Secret #2

Bovine and marine collagen have not been conclusively proven to work. We use the EU’s Health and Nutritional Claims Register as our gold standard. It’s essentially a list of all the conclusively proven benefits derived from eating certain foods or supplements.

Animal based collagen is completely absent from this list. But guess what is on the list? And what has been conclusively proven time and time again to support your body’s own production of collagen? Plant based nutrients.

Think about it. Why would you eat animal hooves or sea creatures for their collagen when you could simply boost your own collagen directly in your skin? Eating someone else’s collagen (i.e an animal’s) doesn’t boost your own. And it’s a bit gross!

Decades of scientific research has shown that vitamin C along with other plant based compounds can help stimulate the production of collagen within your skin for some pretty age-defying results. In addition, specific plants-based ingredients can also actually protect your collagen from being destroyed from premature ageing. Nice.

I’ll debunk more of the myths around animal based collagen below and the incredible anti-ageing benefits you can get from plants.

What Results Can You Expect From Vegan Collagen?

The tips I’m about to share in this post helped me to transform my skin in just 6 weeks. These science-backed insights apply to anyone from age 25 to 90 - in fact numerous scientific studies show that your skin has an incredibly ability to rejuvenate and its never too late to look after your skin (and see results).

I'm in my mid-30s and went from tired, dull skin that was starting to get deeper lines (that didn’t seem to budge) along with sagging cheeks (oh horrors) to gorgeous youthful, firm and glowy skin as well as an (almost) line free complexion.

Today I’m going to show you the exact things that I did to get those results.

Click a section below to be taken right to one of my top tips.

Before we delve into my top tips above, let’s just clear up a few common questions;

Why Should I Even Care About Collagen?

You should definitely care about your collagen! I would go so far as to say it is the most important thing you should consider if you are serious about looking younger for longer.

Why is this? Collagen is the most common protein across your entire body. Your skin alone consists of 70% collagen fibres. It is essentially the whole reason your skin looks plump, youthful and wrinkle-free when you are young - it’s the scaffold that keeps your skin looking firm and taunt.

The bad news is that as each year passes us by, our collagen levels decrease. This leads to natural signs of aging such as wrinkles, looser (or sagging) skin and achy joints.

You will typically lose around 1% of your collagen each year from around the age of 25 - although it differs slightly from person to person. This process can also happen a lot faster if you make collagen-destroying lifestyle choices...

You might be accelerating the loss of your collagen if you;

Enjoy munching on sugary sweets?

Sugar destroys collagen and elastin fibres in your skin through a process known as glycation where sugar essentially ‘bonds’ to collagen fibres to produce AGEs - Advanced Glycation End Products. These AGEs compounds can make you age more rapidly than your peers because as your collagen is destroyed, fine lines and a loss of skin tone become more evident. Whilst your body has mechanisms to eliminate these harmful substances, e.g. via antioxidant activity, but if you consume too many AGEs, your body can’t keep up eliminating without help and they’ll begin to accumulate.

Enjoy a few too many rosés on the weekend?

When metabolized, alcohol produces free radicals, which are chemicals in the skin that injure our precious collagen. These alcohol free radicals act as little “darts”— poking little holes in your collagen fibers and essentially destroying them. When you lose collagen the consequences are fine lines, wrinkles and lax skin.

Burn the candle at both ends?

Not getting enough sleep can have a huge impact on your skin. The extra stress this places your body under increases cortisol production which in turn increases something called metalloproteinases. This compound accelerates collagen and elastin breakdown, which is essential to skin integrity, and brings on premature ageing by increasing wrinkles, decreasing skin thickness and decreasing skin elasticity.

Forget to drink water?

Collagen needs water to do its job of keeping your skin firm and plump. Collagen is 60% water and experiments that remove water from collagen have shown that it dramatically impacts the tensile force of the protein, which has serious implications for skin health. Drinking more water will keep your collagen hydrated, and wrinkles at bay.

 

Enjoy sun baking a little too much?

UV radiation can cause collagen to break down at a higher rate than normal aging. It does this by penetrating the middle layer of skin (dermis), causing the production of collagen destroying enzymes. Continued sun exposure only speeds the process, leading to further wrinkling and sagging.

 

Have you just said a resounding yes to all the above collagen no-nos? Don’t freak out just yet. Your skin has an incredible ability to rejuvenate and repair itself (through a process similar to wound healing).

You can actually help support your body to make more collagen by consuming the right building blocks.

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This is where we get to the really important bit. Which type of collagen is best and which type of collagen works? Because let’s face it, we want results!

Plant versus Animal Collagen: Which type works?

There are no two ways around it. Collagen is an animal thing - it’s what our skin is made of. Humans, Cows, Fish and more. But one of the biggest misconceptions out there is the common belief that by eating someone else’s collagen i.e. a cow or a fish, we’ll be able to boost our own collagen for flawless youthful skin,

Wrong.

As I briefly mentioned above, bovine and marine collagen have not been conclusively proven to work. We use the EU’s Health and Nutritional Claims Register as our gold standard. It’s essentially a list of all the conclusively proven benefits derived from eating certain foods or supplements. And guess what? Animal based collagen is completely absent from this list.

The EU’s leading science institutions have been unable to conclusively prove that consuming bovine or marine collagen (or type I, type II or type III collagen peptides for that matter) has any tangible impact on your skin.

In particular there are 3 main problems when it comes to animal collagen that aren't present in plant-based collagen builders or vegan collagen alternatives;

1. Presence of Contaminants

Most animal collagen is made from the ground up hooves, hides, bones, and joints of animals. Unfortunately modern day farming exposes animals to many pesticides and herbicides such as glyphosate which concentrate in animal bones and then may end up in bovine collagen supplements.

A study conducted by the Consumer Wellness Center, tested eight popular bone broths and bone broth products such as collagen supplements to determine the level of contaminants and overall human safety. The test revealed the presence of antibiotics, drugs, and chemicals in many of the animal-based collagen supplements.

2. Poor absorption

There is a common myth that by consuming animal collagen it will somehow reappear in your skin to make it plumper, firmer and more youthful.

Unfortunately, you usually have very little control over where your body puts things. When you eat or drink animal-based collagen, your stomach and small intestine will break the protein down using enzymes. These small fragments are generally up to three amino acids long before your body can actually even absorb them. That’s not a lot of amino acids. And most of the time even when you can absorb them your body can’t tell these particular fragments come from collagen — they could be any number of other proteins.

3. Collagen or collagen peptides are not at all involved in the process your body uses to produce collagen naturally.

The Collagen industry, unfortunately has been subject to pseudoscience and a number of hocus pocus claims. We encourage you to do your homework and check out the actual science before choosing a supplement. When you ingest animal based collagen or a collagen peptide supplement, it actually does nothing to support the way collagen is made naturally by your body. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if you want the bouncy, plump and elastic skin of your 20s, you want more of the collagen your body is already great at producing. The Cleveland Clinic has identified that to produce collagen, your body requires vitamin C, zinc, and copper. There are no surprises that the best sources of these collagen boosting compounds actually come from plants (more on that below 👇).

So to summarise, animal based collagen supplements have the following problems;

  1. Potential health issues with evidence of contaminants in some bovine-based supplements
  2. A lack of evidence in either independent scientific studies and no validated results in the EU’s Health and Nutritional Claims Register
  3. They do nothing to support your body’s natural ability to produce collagen.

So how do vegan collagen alternatives stack up and what does the EU’s Health and Nutritional Claims Register have to say on the matter?

It’s a big tick of approval from the EU and a win for plants. The register conclusively agrees that plant-based nutrients help your skin to produce its own collagen. And it’s not just the EU’s register which confirms plants work - a whole host of other scientific studies agree that plant-based nutrients can have a tremendous impact on not just collagen production but also collagen protection.

How to Boost Collagen Naturally With Plant-Based Sources

Clean eating and plant-based diets have become increasingly popular over the last few years and for good reason. Plants contain some of the most powerful anti-ageing compounds known to man and often wind up in our beauty products.

I’m going to share a secret here. Plant-based ingredients that you apply on top of your skin (e.g. via cosmetics) can only penetrate the top layer of your skin (the epidermis). The anti-ageing elixirs you may be using can’t actually penetrate to the lowest layer of your skin, the dermis, where wrinkles actually first appear. The only way to reach this layer is from within and via nutrition.

Your epidermis and dermis (both the upper and lower layer of your skin) consist of 70% collagen, which slowly diminishes as you age. To boost your collagen and support your body’s natural collagen production processes you need three nutrients;

1. Vitamin C

Your body is unable to produce vitamin C, making dietary sources of vitamin C critical for supporting skin health and vitality. Vitamin C has been conclusively proven to be the most important compound in supporting your body’s natural production of collagen. It's also been found to help prevent and treat ultraviolet (UV)-induced photodamage, the main reason for premature ageing. Dark leafy greens like Kale are a brilliant source of vitamin C and actually contain double the vitamin C of oranges. Our plant-based Vegan Collagen supplement contains over 75% of your daily vitamin C requirement sourced entirely from plants - unlike other supplements which contain synthetically manufactured vitamin C.

2. Zinc

This mineral supports healthy collagen production by activating proteins essential for collagen synthesis. It also activates a protein called collagenase that allows your cells to remodel collagen. Chickpeas and sunflower seeds are our favourite sources of plant-based zinc (and are also be found in our Vegan Collagen supplement).

3. Copper

Copper also plays a role in collagen production. It activates an enzyme called lysyl oxidase that's required for collagen production, that essentially cross-links collagen fibers with other supportive fibers, helping to form the scaffold that supports your tissues. Sunflower seeds are one of the best plant-based sources of copper (and are also be found in our Vegan Collagen supplement).

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If you really want to give your skin a complete overhaul and a massive anti-ageing boost, incorporating plants in your diet which contain the following compounds can help you protect against free radical damage in your skin (which accelerates ageing), boost skin moisture (to smooth wrinkles from within) and improve skin tautness and elasticity (for an overall anti-ageing boost).

One of the tremendous benefits of consuming plant-based collagen boosters is that they a packed with anti-ageing compounds known as flavanoids, which work synergistically with collagen boosters to firm skin, smooth wrinkles, boost skin hydration and support overall wellness.

Here are some of our favourite anti-ageing flavanoids from plants and botanicals;

1. Quercetin

A powerful anti-ageing compound found in apples, strawberries and raspberries which appears to slow-down the ageing process by fighting free radicals, inflammation and potentially reducing a cellular ageing process known as senescene.

2. Rutin

A powerful flavanoid and antioxidant found in citrus fruits. A clinical study found it had significant anti-ageing effects by increasing skin elasticity, reducing the depth and number of wrinkles, reducing skin sagging and even reducing the markers of ageing related to collagen destruction.

3. Ellagic Acid

Raspberries are rich in this polyphenol which is revered for its impact on treating wrinkles and inflammation. A 2010 study examined the protective effects of ellagic acid on collagen and inflammatory responses. Results showed ellagic acid prevented the inflammation and collagen breakdown that causes wrinkles.

4. Carotenoids

Carotenoids are converted into anti-ageing retinol (vitamin A) by your body. These helps to stimulate the production of new skin cells. Without it, skin can become overly dry. Carotenoids have also been shown to help prevent cell damage as well as premature skin aging

5. Lycopene

A type of carotenoid, found in tomatoes and carrots. Lycopene has been praised for its ability to strengthen and smooth skin by inhibiting the activity of collagenases—enzymes involved in the breakdown of collagen in the skin. Protecting collagen fibres helps ensure the firmness and elasticity of your skin and prevents wrinkling

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Here are my 11 tips to boosting and protecting collagen for firmer, smoother and more youthful skin;

1. Eat wholefoods over vitamins you buy in a tube

2. Up your intake of fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C to boost collagen production

3. Include raspberries in your diet to protect your collagen from being destroyed

4. Eat sunflower seeds (High in skin-loving selenium and Coq10)

5. Include root vegetables in your diet to boost hyaluronic acid production

6. Eat more strawberries which are high in quercetin

7. Add tropical fruits to your diet which are rich in amino acids

8. Up your intake of plants to feed your skin with polyphenols

9. Consume root vegetables high in vitamin A to help firm skin

10. Reduce your sugar intake to prevent unnecessary collagen destruction

11. Get your beauty sleep to support your skin rejuvenation at the cellular level

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For far too long, the beauty industry has expected us to sacrifice our wellness for our beauty. Now its time we had both. No synthetic ingredients. No animal products. No shelf life extenders or additives. Just pure plant based ingredients to support our beauty and health in the best way possible"

Raw Beauty Lab