What is Collagen? The Bizarre Inside Scoop on How Collagen is Derived

What is collagen? Read more on collagen and vegan collagen alternatives so we can stop consuming health & beauty products that harm animals.

Using collagen in your skincare is said to reduce wrinkles and aging skin
Using collagen in your skincare is said to reduce wrinkles and aging skin

Do you have that aunt who constantly holds high praise about the latest collagen-infused cream to her anti-aging skin care routine? This is not surprising as Grand View Research estimates that the global collagen market growing at an accelerated pace and is expected to reach USD 16.7 billion by 2028. 

Based on Nutrition Business Journal(NBJ), the commercial market for collagen is unsurprisingly huge – with consumers projected spending on collagen supplements to be up to $293 million. This figure has increased six times since 2014, showing the uprising trend of the usage of collagen for many.

These huge numbers may not sound so surprising when we learn about the use and origin of collagen. Expert New York dermatologist Whitney Bowe defines collagen as a protein that can be extracted from the bone, tissues and cartilage of living organisms. Some examples of animals we get collagen from are fishes and cows! Unsurprisingly, humans can naturally produce collagen as it is a biological ability. However, Bowe states that “as we get older, we break down [collagen] faster than we can replace it” As age catches up with all of us, our abilities to produce collagen decreases.

Do you recall the amino acids we learned about in biology lessons? Yes those! Collagens are made up of amino acids, also commonly known as building blocks of proteins. Proline and Glycine in collagen are vital for the restoration and formation of our bones, joints and healthy skin. 

So what is all this hype around Collagen? The reason why collagen is sought after in many cosmetic products is because it helps our skin be elastic, smooth and plump – all these things that make us look younger!


What’s so bizarre about collagen being derived from animal [bones]?

The majority of animal collagen is generated from ground-up hooves, skins, bones, and joints. It is disheartening to reveal that modern farming methods expose animals to a wide range of pesticides and herbicides. These include glyphosate, which accumulates in animal bones and since it is saturated, it might end up in bovine collagen supplements.

The harsh reality about the usage of collagen is the process – the collection of collagen is only possible when it is taken from other mammals that have passed. Oftentimes, these mammals are usually livestock that have been raised for commercial use. 

A simple extraction of collagen would include a process of cooking animal materials that contains cartilage, some examples are connective tissues, skin and bones. You may find it shocking, but collagen can even be derived from human bodies! (but the exception is that this is when collagen is required for medical usage). The logic behind this is because collagen derived from a fellow human faces less possibilities of being rejected by another human body (just a fun fact).

Would you apply human-derived collagen as part of your skin care routine? We’re assuming not, because it sounds repulsive! So why should we opt for animal-derived collagen?


Health & Benefits of this anti-aging ingredient

Collagen makes your skin look younger, giving a rejuvenated shine from tired looking skin
Collagen makes your skin look younger, giving a rejuvenated shine from tired looking skin

Collagen makes up three quarters of your skin and a third of the protein in your body, and much like where animal collagen is derived from, it is found in your bones, muscles, and blood. Collagen has health benefits because it is a protein that is responsible for skin elasticity and healthy joints.

Now moving on to the bundle of beauty benefits that come from using collagen – from anti-aging properties to giving a rejuvenated shine for tired looking skin. Fibroblasts are created when collagen proteins connect in the middle layer of our skin and they are key to healthier looking skin as it boosts the growth of new cells,  leading to dead cells being replaced at a faster rate.

People love using products infused with collagen because using collagen is associated with attaining smooth and healthy looking skin. 


Why do people love buying anti-aging skincare made from cartilage?

The collagen in our bodies breaks down making it more difficult for the body to create more of it as we age - fueling the demand for collagen based products.
The collagen in our bodies breaks down making it more difficult for the body to create more of it as we age – fueling the demand for collagen based products.

The two functions of collagen, as stated above, make them all the more worthwhile when one is aging, as wrinkles and weak joints start appearing as common problems. As we get older, the collagen in our bodies breaks down, making it more difficult for the body to create more. The fall in collagen production causes skin to sag and joints to start aching tremendously without the “jelly”. Decreased collagen production could also result in dry skin and the formation of wrinkles.

It is no wonder many love stocking up on collagen supplements or applying creams with collagen as key ingredients. Undoubtedly, this will give our bodies a boost in terms of collagen, allowing us to reap the benefits of collagen, even at a time when our bodies fail to produce them as fast as we would like them to.

But do we really need collagen derived from animal cartilage, tendon, bone and gristles just for the sake of beauty? Instead of applying second-hand collagen from a dead animal, we can opt to consume collagen-boosting foods or buy skincare with vegan collagen.

Yes, we said it. There is something called plant-derived collagen.

Hold up – what are the benefits of vegan collagen then?

Now that we have learned about collagen, us plant babies are not liking the cruel process of deriving collagen from animals, hence we present an alternative – vegan collagen.

Vegan collagen still does the same job of reducing wrinkles and fulfilling the anti-aging role, and promotes natural production of more collagen in our bodies. 

Apart from the beauty benefits, one can also save on vegan collagen as it may cost less. There is also a reduction in the danger of transmitting illnesses, bacteria and potential allergies. Since vegan collagen is produced in a sealed environment where the environmental conditions are controlled manually, substances that are detrimental are easily removed.


Vegan alternatives to collagen

One popular vegan alternative is bacteria P. pastoris, which can be formulated into products in a lab setting.
One popular vegan alternative is bacteria P. pastoris, which can be formulated into products in a lab setting.

One vegan alternative to collagen is bacteria P. pastoris. Other methods of producing vegan alternatives include scientists being able to reconstruct the amino acid structure of collagen via the process of breaking down plant proteins (like soy, pea, hemp) and piecing them back together to reflect the same amino structure of collagen. It is quite amazing how scientific advancements have led to the availability of vegan alternatives to collagen. 

Another way to introduce collagen into your body in a vegan manner is by adopting an amino-acid diet. Once an individual has gained sufficient proteins from vegetables, beans and grains, their bodies have the resources to create collagen, as affirmed by Susan Levis, MS, RD, Director of Nutrition Education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in an article. If you are looking to use this method, be sure to include amino acids that have high collagen content such as proline, glycine and lysine

Looking for vegan collagen products? Here are a few

Plant-based collagen that are ingested such as those in supplements are not real collagen. These are rather a collection of vegan ingredients designed to help boost our bodies’ own collagen production.

Pacifica’s Vegan Collagen Collection

Pacifica Vegan Collagen Recovery Eye Cream
Pacifica Vegan Collagen Recovery Eye Cream

Being a 100% vegan and cruelty free brand, Pacifica brings to the table a range of skin care containing vegan collagen; including these

  • Vegan Collagen Recovery Eye Cream
  • Vegan Collagen Complex Serum 
  • Vegan Collagen Overnight Recovery Cream
  • Vegan Cream Creamy Gel Cleanser
  • Vegan Collagen Every Day Lotion SPF 30
  • Vegan Collagen Hydrating Milk Tonic
  • Vegan Collagen Hydro-Treatment Undereye & Smile Lines

Other than being vegan and cruelty free, the company pays attention to sustainability and environmental protection. They take any used packaging and sort them so your plastics make it to the right place. In partnership with Preserve, they turn all #5 plastics into razors and toothbrushes which you can purchase on their site.

If you have any ‘beef’ with collagen, let us know and we’ll work on bringing in a vegan and sustainable collagen range for you, right here at PoweredByPlant!

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