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- Collagen for skin is a humectant as a topical ingredient, occurring in creams, serums, and other treatments.
- It moisturizes the skin and visibly minimizes fine lines and wrinkles, making the skin look plumper.
- There are three types of collagen creams to choose from – those made with animal-derived collagen, ones with vegan alternatives, and collagen-supporting formulas.
Collagen creams are not something that would normally get me excited. Don’t get me wrong – collagen is critical for the skin! It’s just that the collagen I worry about is the stuff that’s already inside my body, not the stuff I can put on top of it. I dare say I was even anti-collagen creams before I dove deep into researching this article.
As it turns out, collagen creams are pretty great and absolutely deserving of some attention – especially if you have very dry skin! They hydrate and protect beautifully and often have extremely sumptuous textures and lovely ingredients. So today, I’m giving collagen creams credit where it’s due without overblowing their effects.
Collagen creams actually fall into three categories: creams that include collagen for skin as one of their ingredients, creams that include collagen-mimicking ingredients, and creams that include ingredients meant to support collagen.
We’ll explain exactly how they differ from one another, but before getting into that, we’ll mention some of the best collagen creams available online, which totally converted me into a supporter of this cream category. Then I’ll explain what collagen is and what it does for the skin. I’ll get into the types of collagen creams in more detail and finish off with some pros and cons as well as usage tips!
Collagen Cream Guide: Contents
- 17 Best Collagen Creams for Every Skin Type
- What Is Collagen for Skin and What Does It Do?
- Types of Collagen Creams
- Pros and Cons of Collagen for Skin
- How to Use Collagen Creams
17 Best Collagen Creams for Every Skin Type
Collagen creams come in a few different forms, so we selected the best ones to nourish your skin!
1. Best Overall: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Vitamin C+ Collagen Deep Cream
This rich collagen cream is an exceptional choice for those with dry, maturing skin. It features collagen amino acids with a small molecular weight, so they penetrate beautifully and bring with them a ton of hydration. The other ingredients here are also very notable, including gentle vitamin C derivatives that give protection from extrinsic aging, deeply nourishing botanical oils, and skin-repairing peptides. Buy it from Sephora!
2. Best Budget: Derma E Advanced Peptides & Collagen Moisturizer
This budget-friendly collagen cream is also one of the few vegan choices we’ve seen. Instead of traditional collagen, which is animal-derived, it’s made with acacia seyal gum extract, which has similar hydrating effects. It has a light, creamy texture but contains deeply moisturizing macadamia oil, so it’s still quite nourishing. It also includes anti-aging agents like Matrixyl synthe’6 and Argireline. It’s a great option for those wanting to deal with skin aging, though those with acne-prone skin will want to stay away. Get it at Ulta!
3. Best Korean: Etude House Moistfull Collagen Cream
This Korean collagen cream is very famous and for good reason. It’s made with over 60% hydrolyzed collagen, which has an intense affinity for both moisture and the skin, making it an amazing hydrator. It’s a wonderful choice for all skin types, and it leaves the skin dewy but non-greasy. Order it from Amazon!
4. Best Vegan: Algenist Genius Sleeping Collagen
This is another attempt at crafting vegan collagen, this time from Algenist. Their vegan collagen is made of a blend of corn, soy, and wheat protein fibers, which are meant to mimic collagen’s effects on the skin. Whether that’s true or not is unclear, but we can attest to the fact that this night cream is exceptionally moisturizing and that it contains skin-soothing and reparative ingredients like ceramide NP and alguronic acid. It’s available at Sephora.
5. Best for Extreme Dryness: PCA Skin Collagen Hydrator
This intense and rich moisturizer doesn’t actually include any collagen. It’s crafted to support the skin barrier of those dealing with extreme dryness, with shea butter, glycerin, and a ton of skin-soothers and emollients. The formula also includes a touch of vitamin C in a gentle form, which helps ward off premature aging. Purchase it from Dermstore!
6. Best for the Body: NatureWell Collagen Intense Moisturizing Cream for Face & Body
You can give your whole body the collagen experience with this cream. It comes in a 10-ounce container, so it’s a great budget option. The formula is creamy, with a ton of coconut oil, as well as other botanical oils and soothing plant extracts. Instead of collagen, it includes tripeptide-29, which is a lab-made collagen peptide that’s vegan-friendly. Pick it up from Amazon!
7. Best for Daytime: Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Cream
This day cream is pretty iconic with an SPF 15 that helps to maintain the youthful condition of the skin along with some impressive collagen-boosting peptides. Indeed, there is no collagen in the formula, but it does include a lot of other hydrating and moisturizing agents. Grab it at Nordstrom!
8. Best Anti-Aging: Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream
This moisturizer has been around for over 15 years, so it’s one of the OG collagen creams. These days, the formula doesn’t include collagen, but instead, it’s made with marine botanicals like chlorella to protect the skin. It’s very creamy, but it doesn’t leave a greasy residue, so it’s ideal for dry and combination skin. Elemis does lose points from us for making some huge claims about this product, however. Shop for it on Dermstore!
9. Best for Skin Elasticity: Moon Juice Cosmic Cream Collagen Protecting Moisturizer
This silky, creamy moisturizer has a natural formula that doesn’t include any collagen – instead, it’s meant to protect the existing collagen in the skin with a blend of strong antioxidants from adaptogenic plants like ashwagandha and schisandra. The formula includes a lot of plant oils like grape seed, apricot, and jojoba, so it’s best for those with dry skin. Find it at Sephora!
10. Best for Fine Lines: Peter Thomas Roth FIRMx Collagen Moisturizer
This anti-aging collagen cream is undeniably good, but it’s also a little overly “buzzy.” It’s creamy and intensely moisturizing, which we love, with a ton of collagen-supporting peptides and skin-firming agents. It also includes a few different types of collagen, including hydrolyzed collagen, marine collagen, and something PTR calls “vegetable collagen,” although the brand doesn’t specify its sourcing. The different collagen formats definitely offer diverse levels of hydration, but we can’t help but feel that they were included for the sake of marketing. It’s sold at Sephora.
11. Best Drugstore: L’Oreal Paris Collagen Moisture Filler
This is another budget collagen cream, and it’s also been around for a very long time. The amount of collagen in this blend is not huge, but it still gives a hydrating boost to the super-occlusive formula, which also includes shea butter and a few different silicones. It’s fantastic for locking moisture into the skin and creating a gentle cushion. Order it online through Amazon!
12. Best Luxurious: Babor DOCTOR BABOR LIFTING RX Collagen Cream
This creamy moisturizer has a wonderful formula, although the claims around it are a little over the top. We wouldn’t expect any radical firming effects from it, but it does offer phenomenal nourishment thanks to oils from macadamia and avocado. Collagen shows up here further down the list, and it comes from marine origins. It also features a few peptides and antioxidant vitamins that may give the skin a small anti-aging boost. Buy it from Dermstore!
13. Best Brightening: Bliss Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Collagen Protecting & Brightening Moisturizer
This lovely moisturizer keeps your skin firm with a combination of vitamin C and peptides. The vitamin C in this blend is the gentle derivative 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid, which helps protect the skin, especially when bolstered by the presence of niacinamide. It also includes licorice root extract, which helps with pigmentation. This cream is rich and moisturizing, but it should suit all skin types. It’s available at Ulta.
14. Best with SPF: Lancôme Rénergie Lift Multi Action Ultra Cream SPF 30 for All Skin Types
This is a more intense day cream with a higher SPF, so it offers better protection. The formulation is creamy and deeply moisturizing, although, despite the name, we wouldn’t expect radical results from it. It does include nice antioxidants like adenosine and even lovely botanical oils, but overall, it’s just a nice SPF moisturizer formula. You can get it at Nordstrom.
15. Best Nourishing: Estée Lauder Revitalizing Supreme+ Global Anti-Aging Cell Power Creme
This luxury cream comes from a high-end brand you’re likely already familiar with. The formula is silky and luxurious but non-comedogenic, with lots of anti-aging ingredients. It’s loaded with antioxidant extracts as well as some collagen-boosting peptides and even includes a touch of caffeine for a firming effect. Shop for it at Nordstrom!
16. Best J-Beauty: DHC Super Collagen Cream
DHC is a Japanese brand, so their take on collagen cream is quite innovative. It’s made with DHC’s patented dipeptide-8, which is a small collagen molecule that penetrates well and hydrates deeply. Beyond that, the formula has a lovely moisturizing and skin-smoothing effect, with a touch of antioxidant protection from vitamin C derivatives. Pick it up from Ulta!
17. Best Hydrating: Tula Probiotic Skincare 24-7 Moisture Hydrating Day & Night Cream
This incredible night cream from Tula is a nice closer to this list. It’s creamy and moisturizing, but not overly rich, with a formula that relies on natural but very effective ingredients. These include hydrating probiotics, tons of humectants, and plant extracts that are extremely rich in antioxidants, which helps to protect the skin from premature aging and to keep the collagen intact. Find it at Nordstrom!
What Is Collagen for Skin and What Does It Do?
Let’s start with what collagen is in the human body. If you’re not in the know, collagen is one of the building blocks of the skin. It’s the protein in the dermis that’s responsible for the firmness of the skin.
With age, our body slows down its collagen production, and as a result, the face begins to sag. These days, collagen for skin is available in creams and other topicals, and it’s also become a very popular supplement, which is a topic for a different article.
However, collagen is very different as a topical ingredient. When applied topically, collagen (like a lot of other amino acids) is a humectant, so it helps pull moisture into the skin. In other words, it’s a great moisturizing ingredient!
If you’re familiar with my writing, you know that I really love humectants – they have this magical ability to plump up the skin and make it glow beautifully! Collagen, sadly, doesn’t elicit my typical excitement about humectants.
The first reason I don’t get excited about is personal: collagen only exists in the living tissue of animals, so there are no vegetarian sources of it. If you’re not a vegetarian, this might not matter to you at all!
The collagen used in cosmetics is usually a byproduct of the meat industry, so I don’t think using it in cosmetics is any less ethical than other forms of meat consumption. Some brands rely on marine collagen, which is taken from fish, but once again, as a vegetarian, I’m not interested.
The second issue I have with collagen is the way it is marketed. Collagen creams, as a category, are seen as these intense anti-aging products that do miracles specifically on mature skin. This was especially the case 10-20 years ago when skincare was sometimes recommended to people based on age, and collagen creams would be the “40+” or “50+” option.
They were described as radically skin-firming or anti-wrinkle. Often, brands would imply that if your skin is losing collagen with age, somehow applying collagen topically would just re-up your collagen levels, which is BS pseudoscience of the highest order. That kind of marketing would be a little overblown even if it was applied to something that actually helps with collagen production, like retinol!
This kind of marketing also sets decent products up for failure because it raises consumers’ expectations to a level that can’t be met by a topical product, let alone a simple moisturizer!
Over the last few years, it seems like a lot of brands learned their lesson as consumers became more educated. Additionally, brands started moving away from animal-derived ingredients so as to make their products vegetarian and vegan-friendly. This gave rise to the next take on collagen creams that we’ll explain next.
Types of Collagen Creams
Since so many brands have moved away from using animal-derived collagen in their products, there are now three distinct types of formulas you might see described as a “collagen cream” – those made with collagen, those with vegan alternatives, and collagen-supporting formulas. All three formulations tend to be quite creamy and rich, so they’re ideal for those with dry skin.
Made with Collagen
First things first are the OG collagen creams that include collagen in their formula. Normally, you would just see the word “collagen” listed in the ingredient list, usually near the beginning or about half-way through the ingredient list. In these formulas, collagen acts as a humectant, usually closer to the surface of the skin.
Some creams specifically use hydrolyzed collagen for skin. Hydrolyzed collagen amino acids are basically collagen molecules that have been broken down into small pieces. This allows it to penetrate into slightly lower levels of the epidermis, which hydrates the skin more thoroughly.
Another distinction you can occasionally see is “marine collagen,” which just means that the collagen was derived from fish or other sea creatures, which makes it suitable for fish-eaters.
Vegan Collagen Alternatives
The shift towards making vegan-friendly formulations led to the creation of a few collagen alternatives. Different brands found different collagen alternatives from acacia seyal gum to hybrids of amino acids from different plants. These ingredients have a similar humectant effect to collagen and similar skin feel, so they replace it in formulas.
Other brands use synthetically produced peptides that exist naturally as part of collagen’s structure. In other words, it’s a way of producing smaller amino acid sequences that are related to collagen.
Researchers have made headway in manufacturing vegan collagen through a process that involves genetically modified yeast and bacteria. We’ve seen “vegetable collagen” listed in some formulas, which might be this vegan alternative, or it might be something else – it’s not clear how many cosmetic companies are relying on this innovative process for their collagen.
Finally, some creams called “collagen creams” are basically antioxidant moisturizers that protect the skin from the degrading effect of external stressors like sun exposure and pollution. They can include any kind of antioxidant, but the most popular formulations we’ve seen rely on different kinds of antioxidant-rich algae as well as on gentle vitamin C derivatives.
This is an instance where the term “collagen” is strictly added for marketing purposes since any antioxidant-rich cream will have the same protective effects. It’s also worth adding that while using such creams can be nice, having a daily sunscreen habit is a lot more important for preserving collagen levels in the skin.
Pros and Cons of Collagen for Skin
Collagen creams are diverse and innocuous, but we still wanted to weigh their pros and cons to help you get a better understanding of them.
- Very hydrating and moisturizing
- Usually quite gentle
- Plump up skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines
- Real collagen is animal-derived
- Marketed with overblown claims
- Formulas are often too rich for oily or acne-prone skin.
How to Use Collagen Creams
Collagen creams are traditional moisturizers, so the best way to apply them is as you would a typical moisturizer.
• They usually don’t contain SPF and have a fairly rich texture, so it’s better to save them for nighttime.
• If your skin is very dry, you can use a collagen cream in the daytime under a sunscreen.
• Always apply your collagen cream to clean skin.
• You can apply the collagen cream with your fingers in an upwards, circular massage. This will get the blood flowing to the face and help to stimulate the skin.
• For sensitive skin, press the cream into your skin instead to avoid tugging or irritating it.
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