It’s undeniable that collagen has taken the beauty world by storm in the last several years. And with research that supports fortified skin, hair, nails and body, it’s no surprise that many health and beauty companies have jumped on the collagen bandwagon. But the Japanese take collagen to a whole new level. A quick visit to Japanese drugstores reveals the popularity and diversity of the country’s collagen market. Household words and indie brands alike have formulated their own collagen supplements in capsule, liquid, powder and even protein bar forms. Collagen drinks are readily available at gyms, and many restaurants promote collagen-rich dishes for the beauty-conscious. This trend reaches its peak during the dead of dry winter, and it’s common for both the young and old to indulge in collagen-loaded chicken skin, pigs’ feet, hot pots, and soups to replenish their collagen supply. It goes to show one of the biggest Japanese beauty-from-the-inside practices.
What is collagen?
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein in the body that helps glue together skin, nails, hair, bones, and other connective tissue. It works closely together with another protein called elastin to keep our skin supple, smooth, and elastic. But starting from our mid 20s onwards, the body’s ability to produce collagen starts to decline, leading to a loss of plumpness, firmness, and radiance that we all long to hold on to.
How to supplement collagen
Marine (fish), bovine (cow), and porcine (pig) collagen are the most common types of collagen, and they’re highly concentrated in the bones and skin. However, it may not be feasible (nor appetizing) to consume these parts on a daily basis, so if you’re sticking with food sources, bone broth may be a more practical alternative. Of course, the quickest and easiest way to upkeep your collagen intake is through a reliable supplement. Premium Japanese collagen supplements tend to include marine collagen of low molecular size, which makes them more bioavailable and easier to absorb through the intestinal barrier into the bloodstream. Many are infused with vitamins, amino acids, and plant extracts for nutritional balance, and they’re easily dissolved in smoothies, juice, coffee, miso soup, and other liquids.
Why supplement collagen?
With regular use, J-Beauty collagen supplements may be able to help slow signs of aging by reducing oxidative stress. This can mean plumper skin, stronger nails, and more voluminous hair. Collagen can also promote the body’s hyaluronic acid production, which as we all know, is the HG of hydrated, firm skin.
Do collagen supplements actually work?
If you’re expecting J-Beauty collagen supplementation to solve all your skin woes in a week’s time, then the answer is no. Collagen supplements are no magic pill. But if you’re in for the long haul, you can expect to see changes in your overall health and appearance overtime. Supplementation can’t completely make up for the dwindle of our collagen reserves, but it can effectively slow it down. It’s also important to have realistic expectations, since not all collagen will go directly to the skin, hair, and nails, but to support the bones, joints, and wherever else the body sees fit. With that said, regular use of collagen supplements can prove an important pillar in your long-term beauty goals of feeling healthy and youthful both inside and out. And isn’t that the whole point of preventative skincare, hair care, and nail care anyway?