Can Collagen Tighten Loose Skin?

Posted May 2024

Can Collagen Tighten Loose Skin? - The Collagen Co.

If you have loose skin, your vanity drawer and wardrobe are probably crammed with face rollers (an assortment of gemstones — from jade to amethyst to rose quartz) and clothes so baggy you could drown in them.

But no matter how religiously you glide those stones over your face or make all efforts to cover up, there’s no hiding from it.

You see it every time you look in the mirror: your skin is still saggy. And it makes you deeply uncomfortable and self-conscious. What could help you look and feel better without resorting to costly, invasive cosmetic surgeries like facelifts and body sculpting procedures?

Hydrolyzed collagen peptide supplementation? Could that help? Spoiler alert: yes, collagen could tighten loose skin for tighter, more youthful-looking skin. But before explaining the underlying mechanism, let’s first understand:

What causes loose skin?

Think of your skin like a balloon.

The latex layer is your epidermis, the outermost layer of skin in your body, while the air within functions like your dermis. A key cell found within the dermis responsible for keeping your skin taut and plump (like a well-inflated balloon) is called the fibroblast; it produces:

  • Collagen: The main structural protein in your body. Helps maintain firmness in the skin.

  • Elastin: A protein that helps your skin resume its original shape after it has been stretched (i.e., skin “springiness”).

  • Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs): Long, unbranched heteropolysaccharides, such as hyaluronates, which play vital roles in skin moisture.

  • Unfortunately, this “mattress” of collagen, elastin, and GAGs tends to deflate over time — causing loose skin — because of:

  • The natural aging process: The number and activity of fibroblasts decrease markedly with age. With less collagen, elastin, and GAGs to “bulk up” the dermis, sagging occurs.

  • Oxidative damage: Certain lifestyle factors, including excess sun exposure, smoking, and lack of sleep, overwhelm the body with destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS). These highly unstable free radicals damage fibroblasts through a process called oxidative stress, accelerating the natural, age-related loss of skin firmness.

  • Beyond those causes, loose skin may also occur due to dramatic weight gain and loss, plus pregnancy.

    The more dramatic your weight gain and loss, the looser your skin will likely look because it just didn’t have enough time to play “catch-up” to the “expansion” and “deflation”.

    Adding to that is the fact that your skin has a finite elasticity.

    So, if it’s pushed beyond the limit of that elasticity (due to excess weight or a growing belly to accommodate your baby), the skin loses the ability to “shrink back” upon subsequent weight loss or the birth of your little one.

    How does collagen supplementation help with loose skin?

    When cleaved into small enough amino acid chains (molecular weight: just 2-3 kDa), collagen — or, more strictly speaking, hydrolyzed collagen peptides — bypasses the digestive tract and gets absorbed into the bloodstream directly.

    This preserves their bioactivity potential.

    Aging and oxidative stress

    Namely, in the dermal layer, hydrolyzed collagen peptides:

  • Increase the number and activity of fibroblasts: This, in turn, ramps up your body’s production of collagen, elastin, and GAGs, helping your loose skin achieve a more “lifted” look.

  • Fend off oxidative stress: Hydrolyzed collagen is an antioxidant. For the uninitiated, this means collagen peptides can protect fibroblasts from oxidative stress by donating an electron or hydrogen to stabilize free radicals (without becoming unstable themselves).

  • Skeptical? Check out this 2014 study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging. Participants who drank collagen hydrolysates daily reported:

    • Visible or significant improvement in their facial lines after 60 days (69% of participants)
    • An increase in dermal collagen density after 12 weeks
    • A 94% increase in skin firmness after 130 days

    Of course, that’s not the only study highlighting collagen peptides’ ability to enhance the proliferation of fibroblasts and their synthesis of collagen, elastin, and GAGs in the dermal layer.

    If you’re interested in discovering more, we have good news: we’ve curated and broken down 3 of the highest-quality research on collagen’s skin benefits here.

    Dramatic weight gain and loss, plus pregnancy

    What about loose skin due to dramatic weight gain and loss, plus pregnancy?

    Remember what we said about the skin being unable to “shrink back” once it has been pushed beyond its limit of elasticity? To further expand on that, let’s go back to our balloon analogy.

    Think about what happens when you over-inflate a balloon — the latex gets almost see-through. Then, just when you’re sure the next breath of air will pop the balloon, you let go of the neck of the balloon, and it deflates.

    Will the balloon look brand-new? No, it will not. It’ll look stretched and a little deformed. That’s basically what happens to your skin.

    To manage your expectations: loose skin will be hard to get rid of non-surgically in such cases. I.e., collagen peptides won’t be enough. But what hydrolyzed collagen peptides can do is prevent loose skin in the first place by:

  • Promoting skin integrity: Collagen supplementation bulks up the connective tissue in your dermal layer, helping your skin withstand stretching better. In other words, it raises your skin’s limit of elasticity.

  • Supporting gradual, healthy weight loss: As a protein, collagen peptides complement a well-balanced, nutritious diet and a regular exercise routine to promote lean body mass, a key factor for sustainable (i.e., well-paced), successful weight loss.

  • Hmm. Collagen peptides for weight loss?

    Absolutely. Just check out the success stories of our customers who’ve lost anywhere between 3.5 to a whopping 16.7 kg on our Glow Shakes.

    Here’s Natalie’s weight loss progress in 8 weeks, 16 months postpartum:

    And here’s Sarah’s progress in just 28 days:

    Our Glow Shakes are formulated to support healthy, gradual weight loss.

    But if weight loss is not your goal, don’t worry.

    We have a wide range of hydrolyzed collagen peptide products, from Premium Collagen Peptides, which are somewhat of a “catch-all” for your beauty and wellness needs, to Collagen Dream Advanced Sleep Formula, which literally helps you get your beauty (firming) sleep, and to Beauty Marine Collagen, which is perfect for anyone who doesn’t eat beef.

    Explore our full range here. Or take our quiz to find the perfect collagen fit for you.

    Learn more