Here’s why people are eating an ingredient in face creams—and why they shouldn’t

May 15, 2018

Enlarge / With collagen-packed powders, anti-aging enthusiasts are adding the face cream ingredient to smoothies. (credit: Getty | The Washington Post)

For decades, consumers have lined up for injections and creams that promise to plump, refresh, and smooth aging skin. But now, that same anti-aging crowd is dumping the shots and salves and going for snacks and smoothies instead.

A staple of skin care products—collagen—has moved to the newly trendy “functional foods,” as The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out. Instead of the standard anti-wrinkle creams and injectable fillers, people can try everything from collagen-packed powders to pre-made energy bars, chocolates, teas, shakes, and coffee creamers. The edibles tout all the same benefits of old stand-by cosmetics containing collagen—which is an abundant structural protein in the body, found in connective tissue. As we age, our bodies naturally produce less of the elastic, thread-like molecule that keeps our skin from sagging. Boosting and restoring your collagen levels with supplements “enhances” or “promotes” supple, youthful-looking skin, according to product labels and makers.

So far, the cosmetic-inspired consumables have been a hit. There are nearly 300 collagen-containing snacks now available, and sales reached more than $60 million in the past year. But scientists have been less eager to spoon up the food fad.

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